In the vast ecosystem of
iOS, there exist certain “shortcuts” known as URL schemes which allow for direct interaction with system and third-party apps. While most
iOS users might be unfamiliar with them, understanding URL schemes can elevate the iOS experience, allowing for more direct interactions and automations.
Table of contents
- What are URL Schemes?
- 1. Making Direct Calls with
- 2. SMS Shortcuts with
- 3. The Enigmatic
- Benefits of Using URL Schemes
- Facetime with
- Accessing Mail Directly with
- Navigating with
- Music Shortcuts with
- App Store with
- Watching Content with
- Accessing Calendar with
- System Preferences with
- Jumping into YouTube with
- Wrapping Up
URL schemes provide a method to launch an app from another app, a website, or even interact dicely with the iOS system itself. They’re essentially URLs that, instead of pointing to a website, instruct the system to perform specific tasks or open specific apps.
One of the most straightforward URL schemes is
tel://. This scheme can directly initiate a phone call. By entering something like
tel://1234567890 in Safari, the Phone app would launch and initiate a call to the number “1234567890”.
This can be especially useful in certain automation scenarios, like QR codes for direct calls or web pages designed to initiate a customer support call with a single tap.
Similar to the
sms:// will open up the Messages app ready to send a text to a specific number. So,
sms://1234567890 would launch a new message to that number. This can be handy for businesses or events that want to provide a direct line to SMS-based communication or support.
sms:// are quite public and known,
diags:// is more mysterious. As of the last known updates, it’s not a publicly recognized scheme in iOS’s official documentation. It might be related to internal or proprietary tools used by Apple or certain app developers for diagnostics. Whenever encountering unfamiliar URL schemes, especially those potentially impacting system data or behavior, always proceed with caution.
Automation: For power users and developers, URL schemes can be combined with automation tools on iOS, like Shortcuts, to create sequences of actions that can be triggered with a tap.
Ease of Access: Businesses can streamline user actions. For instance, a restaurant’s contact page can have a “Call Now” button utilizing the
tel://scheme to initiate direct calls.
Custom Integrations: Third-party apps can also define their own URL schemes, allowing for unique inter-app interactions and deep linking.
facetime: scheme lets you initiate a FaceTime video call directly. For instance, typing
facetime://[email protected] would open FaceTime and start a video call with the given email address. Similarly,
facetime-audio: can be used to start a FaceTime audio call.
mailto: isn’t exclusive to iOS; it’s a widely recognized scheme across platforms. By entering something like
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Hello in a browser or hyperlink, the Mail app will open, ready to compose a message to the provided email address with a pre-filled subject line.
Apple Maps can be launched using this URL scheme. For example,
http://maps.apple.com/?q=Central+Park will open Apple Maps and search for Central Park.
music:// scheme can open the Music app. You can use it to search for songs or artists, such as
music://search?term=beatles, which will search for “The Beatles” in the Music app.
itms-apps://, you can direct someone straight into the App Store. You can even point them directly to an app’s page by appending its identifier, for instance,
videos:// scheme opens the Videos app. It’s handy for accessing purchased or local video content.
calshow://, users can be directed straight to the Calendar app. For instance,
calshow:602287104 will open the Calendar app and jump to a specific date based on the timestamp provided.
This scheme can take users directly to specific sections of the Settings app, though its use is unofficial and can change between iOS versions.
If the YouTube app is installed,
youtube:// followed by certain parameters can open the app and search or play videos. For instance,
youtube://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ would directly open a particular video in the YouTube app.
While URL schemes provide an advanced layer of interaction on iOS, they’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible when diving deep into the system’s capabilities. Always remember to use these tricks responsibly, ensuring that user privacy and security are not compromised.
Whether you’re an
iOS power user looking to streamline your daily tasks or a curious enthusiast eager to uncover hidden iOS gems, understanding and harnessing the power of URL schemes can open a new realm of possibilities.