The Apple iOS platform allows inter-app communication using a technology called Custom URL Schemes. A Custom URL scheme can be used to open a specific app from another app. Try typing the URL “twitter:” followed by your user name in your Safari browser on the iPhone. Instead of opening a web page, Safari will open the Twitter app on your iPhone (if you have the Twitter app installed).
Zwapp uses Custom URL schemes (amongst other things) to help a user detect apps on his device and fill his app profile as soon as he joins Zwapp. The more Custom URL Schemes we have, the better our app detection works. And here lies a weakness of such a process.
There are an unknown number of apps that use Custom URL Schemes for inter-app communication purposes. As a user we benefit from that ability. At the same time there isn’t a single online source available that lists every custom URL scheme that exists.
We know that a lot of iOS developers utilize Custom URL schemes to innovate on inter-app communication, to detect apps, or whatever purpose. We want to help the hacker community, and our users, by creating the largest public inline resource for Custom URL schemes.
As of today we are launching a new website called OneMillionAppSchemes. We are calling all developers and in general Mac users to visit that site and run a scanner that will scan your iTunes library for Custom URL Schemes. The scan result is uploaded to the site and then freely accesible for the developer community.
To ensure that it is clear that we do not touch nor use private data we are also open-sourcing the code for the scanner. You can check out and download the source code, and use it for your own development purposes.
We hope you will help us build this incredible useful online resource and visit www.onemillionappschemes.com . The developer community and the Zwapp team thank you for your contribution and we will repay you with better apps! 🙂
Please note that the great folks at GigaOM have written an excellent post about Zwapp here!