From App Store Bug to Blink Feature

Sharing apps from the Apple App Store app carries one big caveat -- the share button under the Updates tab has been broken since iOS 7. Elsewhere in the App Store app, the share button grabs the app's title and a short link to the app and drops them into whatever app you select in the share sheet. Under the Update tab all you get is the app's title.

Ok, this is admittedly a bit of an edge case, but it has bitten many a developer who sees that his or her app update is live and then wants to announce it to the world only to share the title without a link. It's bitten plenty of other people too who've seen an update to a favorite app and want to share it.

One of the guiding design principles of Blink is that it should be dead simple to share an affiliate link. So edge case or not, the Update tab bug is one of those things, I wanted to provide a work-around. Since Blink 1.0, if you try to generate an affiliate link from the Updates tab of the App Store app, Blink's extension takes the title it gets from the store and uses it to search the iTunes Search API. Once you chose the app you want from the search results, you've got your link. An extra step to be sure, but an affiliate link where no link at all was possible before.

With iOS 9, Apple introduced a share button to the pop up menu that you get when you select text and just like that, the code that works around the Update tab bug became a whole lot more useful. I love this feature because I didn't have to write any code to implement it, but I think Blink users will find it handy too. Now, if you select text in Mail, Safari, RSS readers, text editors like Byword and really most apps that include selectable text, you can kick off a Blink search based on the selection. In a text editor, you might want to replace an app name with a Markdown formatted link or look up an unlinked app mentioned in your RSS feed that you want to share with a friend. What I like most about this feature is now, affiliate linking is available anywhere you find an iTunes link and almost anywhere you can select text, sanding off one more rough edge so affiliate linking is easier than ever.