iOS 9.3: Here's what's breaking hyperlinks for iPhone and iPad users

A new iOS feature called Universal Links is leaving many iPhone and iPad users unable to click on hyperlinks.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

If you're having problems opening links in Safari, Messages and Mail apps since installing iOS 9.3, then take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. Numerous threads have been posted up on Apple's support forum by frustrated iPhone and iPad users complaining about the issue.

Some users claim that clicking on hyperlinks does nothing, while others say that it causes the Safari browser to crash.

The problem is down to a new feature called Universal Links that allows web developers to make certain links open in their app rather than direct to the browser. This feature was first rolled out in iOS 9, but it seems that some apps - such as the Bookings.com and the Wikipedia app - have been adding too many links to an app's Universal Links association file, which, in turn, has been breaking hyperlinks in iOS 9.3 (and, according to some reports, iOS 9.2.1).

Mobile specialist Ben Collier explains what's going on:

"App developers put an app association file on their website which lists which types of URLs the app can open. When you install an app, iOS downloads this associated file and updates your own database of what URLs your installed apps can open.

"It looks like there's a bug in iOS that completely breaks the Universal Links if it gets served an app association file that's too large."

Bookings.com have since fixed its app. Problem is, fixing the app doesn't fix the problem for those affected. Collier has also outlined a possible fix for those affected, but a proper fix will have to come from Apple.

Fortunately, an official fix is in the works.

An Apple spokesperson says that the company is "aware of this issue" and will "release a fix in a software update soon."

See also:

iOS 9.3 tip: How to password-protect Notes and unlock them with your fingerprint

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