Cool Tool Alert: LinkToApp.com
I'm crazy about my iPhone. I was one of those Apple fanatics that actually waited in line for about 4 hours to get one on the day they were released. With WiFi in the mall, my outdoor chair, and my laptop, while waiting I even shot a movie with the lady next to me--yes, a total stranger. She too was a little "out there." At some point in the future I need to do a series of posts about using the iPhone and/or the iPod Touch as a 1:1 computing platform. But I'll save that for another time.
The iPhone (and iPod Touch) as a computing platform deserves some consideration. And while the device will not do everything a computer will do, it is very affordable when compared to a computer purchase. And with a growing number of increasingly sophisticated applications one can download from the iTunes Store, many of which are free, the device is becoming more and more powerful. Enhancing the capability of this media rich device will only continue. I suspect in some future iteration, the iPhone will be able to stream live video to the world.
Since thousands of applications are available for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, how do you share links to a specific application at the iTunes Store with friends and colleagues? For example, here's an application I just found and love: iBlogger, which allows me to connect to all of my blogs and post to any one of them right from my phone (or iPod Touch), shoot and upload pictures from the phone or the phone's photo library, upload my current location on Google Maps, links, etc. So, how did I do that? How did I give you a link directly to the iBlogger application at the iTunes Apps Store? You simply copy and paste the URL from the iTunes Store into your blog post, email, or twitter tweet!
But Wait! Aren't those URLs long and weird, making them exceedingly difficult to type and too long to post successfully in an email? And besides, some folks still don't know how to post a URL into a web-based document. Tah Dah! This post to the rescue!
Where to find the URL and how to copy it
Launch iTunes (By the way, this also works for any online link.) Find a link to anything at the store: an individual piece of music, an album you want to share, or an application in the Apps Store. Right click (<control> + click on a mac if you don't have a multi-button mouse), and select "Copy iTunes Store URL" from the popup menu. Three examples are pictured below. Click each to see a larger image.
<a href="REPLACE_THIS_TEXT_WITH_THE LINK_YOU_COPIED_AT_THE_ITUNES_STORE" >Click Here</a>
If you're not in HTML editing mode in your blogging system, you will get results, like you see above, where everything is written out and a link doesn't appear like this: Click Here, which is a link to my blog.
Be sure to paste the link you copied from the iTunes Store into the text so indicated above, but don't accidentally remove the quotation remarks. They matter--a lot! The copied link text must be enclosed in the quotation marks.
In my example above, the words "Click Here" will be the underlined link to the item at the iTunes Store. You don't have to use the words "Click Here" and can replace them with anything that makes sense to your readers looking for the place on which to click.
Ah, but for applications (only), there's now an easier way!
Introducing LinkToApp. This convenient new website is like TinyURL but for Applications at the iTunes Store, but even easier. Instead of having to go through all of the above steps in the iTunes Store, if you know the name of the application to which you want to link, simply type: "http://L2app.com/NAME_OF_APP_GOES_HERE" as in the above example where you would have pasted the long and crazy iTunes URL you copied earlier. If the application name has more than one word, for example: "Super Money Ball" you use the "+" sign instead of spaces.
So here's a comparison of the ways to link to a wonderful little application that will listen to the music you are hearing and tell you the artist, the track, the album, and even give you a link to purchase it at the iTunes Store!
<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284993459&mt=8" >Shazam</a> is the actual HTML code used to create this link: Shazam.
<a href="http://L2app.com/shazam" >Shazam</a> is the actual HTML code used to create this link: Shazam.
Since both links will take you to the same application on the iTunes Apps Store, which one would you rather type in a blog post?! And for a tweet, you would just type the link text itself, http://L2app.com/shazam.
The website even gives us a bookmarklet that you can drag into you bookmakrs bar. One click on it opens a dialogue box in which you type what you think is the name of the application. The bookmarklet then takes you to that place in the iTunes Store so you can be sure you have the name correct.
Convenient free tool! (And the Yo-Yo Ma album, Songs of Joy & Peace, used in the screen shots above has some wonderful holiday tracks in it!)