Handling URL Schemes

Syntax

  1. // canOpenURL method verifies if there is any app which can handle indicated URL scheme.

  2. // Swift

    UIApplication.sharedApplication().canOpenURL(_ aUrl: NSURL)

  3. // Objective-C

    [[UIApplication sharedApplication] canOpenURL:(NSURL *)aUrl];

  4. // openURL method tries to open a resource located by URL. YES/true if it was opened otherwise NO/false.

  5. // Swift

    UIApplication.sharedApplication().openURL(_ aUrl: NSURL)

  6. // Objective-C

    [[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:(NSURL *)aUrl];

Parameters

ParameterMeaning
aUrla NSURL instance which stores a built-in or custom scheme string

Remarks

In iOS9 and above your app must list any URL schemes it will want to query. This is done by adding LSApplicationQueriesSchemes to Info.plist


iOS has built-in support for the tel, http/https ,sms, mailto, facetime schemes. It also supports http–based URLs for Youtube, Maps and iTunes apps.

Examples of built-in URL schemes:

tel: tel://123456890 or tel:123456890

http: http://www.google.com

facetime: facetime://azimov@demo.com

mailto: mailto://azimov@demo.com

sms: sms://123456890 or sms:123456890

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eCaif2QKfA

Maps:

  • Using address: http://maps.apple.com/?address=1,Infinite+Loop,Cupertino,California

  • Using coordinates: http://maps.apple.com/?ll=46.683155557,6.683155557

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/randy-newman/id200900

Note: Not all special characters are supported in tel scheme (for example * or #). This is done because of security concerns to prevent users from unauthorized redirect of calls, so in this case Phone app won't be opened.

Apple URL Schemes

These are URL schemes supported by native apps on iOS, OS X, and watchOS 2 and later.

Opening link in Safari:

Objective-C

NSString *stringURL = @"http://stackoverflow.com/";
NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:stringURL];
[[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:url];

Swift:

let stringURL = "http://stackoverflow.com/"
if let url = URL(string: stringURL) {
    UIApplication.shared.openURL(url)
}

Starting a phone conversation

Objective-C

NSString *stringURL = @"tel:1-408-555-5555";
NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:stringURL];
[[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:url];

Swift:

let stringURL = "tel:1-408-555-5555"
if let url = URL(string: stringURL) {
    UIApplication.shared.openURL(url)
}

HTML

<a href="tel:1-408-555-5555">1-408-555-5555</a>

Starting a FaceTime conversation

Objective-C

NSString *stringURL = @"facetime:14085551234";
NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:stringURL];
[[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:url];

Swift:

let stringURL = "facetime:14085551234"
if let url = URL(string: stringURL) {
    UIApplication.shared.openURL(url)
}

HTML

<a href="facetime:14085551234">Connect using FaceTime</a>
<a href="facetime:user@example.com">Connect using FaceTime</a>

Opening Messages App to compose an sms to recipient:

Objective-C

NSString *stringURL = @"sms:1-408-555-1212";
NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:stringURL];
[[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:url];

Swift:

let stringURL = "sms:1-408-555-1212"
if let url = URL(string: stringURL) {
    UIApplication.shared.openURL(url)
}

HTML

<a href="sms:">Launch Messages App</a>
<a href="sms:1-408-555-1212">New SMS Message</a>

Opening Mail app to compose an email to recipient:

Objective-C

NSString *stringURL = @"mailto:foo@example.com";
NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:stringURL];
[[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:url];

Swift:

let stringURL = "mailto:foo@example.com"
if let url = URL(string: stringURL) {
    UIApplication.shared.openURL(url)
}

HTML

<a href="mailto:frank@wwdcdemo.example.com">John Frank</a>

You can also include a subject field, a message, and multiple recipients in the To, Cc, and Bcc fields. (In iOS, the from attribute is ignored.) The following example shows a mailto URL that includes several different attributes:

mailto:foo@example.com?cc=bar@example.com&subject=Greetings%20from%20Cupertino!&body=Wish%20you%20were%20here!

Note: Compose email dialog can also be presented within app using MFMailComposeViewController.

Using built-in URL scheme to open Mail app

Swift:

if let url = URL(string: "mailto://azimov@demo.com") {
    if UIApplication.shared.canOpenURL(url) {
        UIApplication.shared.openURL(url)
    } else {
        print("Cannot open URL")
    }
}

Objective-C:

NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:@"mailto://azimov@demo.com"];
if ([[UIApplication sharedApplication] canOpenURL:url]) {
    [[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:url];
} else {
    NSLog(@"Cannot open URL");
}