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article imageApple to release iOS update to fix broken webpage links

By James Walker     Mar 29, 2016 in Technology
Apple rolled out iOS 9.3 to iPhone users last week, adding a number of features to the mobile operating system. The update isn’t without its problems though, including a bug that crashes Safari when tapping links on webpages.
The bug can occur with any web link in iOS, meaning it isn't restricted to Safari and can include apps such as Mail. Affected links won't respond to taps and will crash the app if long-pressed to display the context menu. It makes it impossible to browse the Internet or navigate through search results as hyperlinks fail to register correctly.
Apple has acknowledged the issue and is developing a fix. The company said to 9to5Mac that it is "aware" of the reports and will release a software update "soon." In the meantime, there is no known workaround that solves every case.
Apple has suggested users turn off JavaScript in Safari settings which may make some links operable. Rebooting the device can also temporarily remedy the issue. Some users have found success following a complex procedure detailed by Wojtek Pietrusiewicz today.
Developers and the community have already established the cause of the bug. It appears to be related to Universal Links, a system that allows app developers to link their website URL to their app.
This allows iOS to automatically open the app from a link on a webpage, letting users view content in the app instead of in Safari. In the case of a newspaper, the user could tap an article in Google's search results and have it load inside the site's native app.
It seems as though some developers have been using this feature incorrectly. In particular, Booking.com has been singled out for causing at least some of the crashes because it tries to register too many Universal Links.
As developer Ben Collier explains, Booking.com requests every page on its website be opened using the app, creating a large and unwieldy file that iOS appears unable to process correctly. The database ends up corrupted and links don't work correctly as they're unable to determine if they are a Universal Link or not.
There are likely to be other apps besides Booking.com that are causing the issue. Booking.com has been noted for its poor use of Universal Links though as it shouldn't be necessary to manually define every single page. Wildcard characters can be used instead to include everything under a given directory.
However, this isn't entirely down to the app developer. Apple should protect against these unexpected cases to ensure bad code doesn't end up disabling hyperlinks across iOS. For its part, Booking.com has since updated its app and severely trimmed down its Universal Links associations. Other developers will need to do the same.
Unfortunately for users, the issue cannot be fixed by simply removing a culprit app. Deleting an app does not clear its entries from the Universal Link database, leaving it corrupt and inaccessible. iPhone owners will need to wait for Apple to respond with an update that cleanses any overloaded databases and guards against future misuse of Universal Links.
More about Apple, Ios, ios 9, ios 93, iPhone
 
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