On my website I have a "Get the app" page. Currently, it doesn't do anything to help users direct themselves from the desktop browser to the app store/google play except linking directly with the desktop browser.

Apart from it being responsive and working on all devices, I wanted to have a way for the user to go from desktop to mobile directly.

Some websites "solved" that problem with QR codes. User scans the screen and bam! They're at the store on their device.

...It would be genius if users actually used (or knew how to use) QR codes. They don't.

Is there an alternative to using QR codes for that purpose?

  • When I log in to the Google play store on a desktop I have the option to download to a chosen device - from a list of devices that I have logged into with the same account. The download then starts on my device without me having to do anything on the actual device. So it seems Google at least have tried to handle the issue you're describing. – Dave Haigh Aug 11 '15 at 16:21
  • Yes, Andrew brought that up below. – JotaRMonteiro Aug 11 '15 at 16:35
  • @JotaRMonteiro Is your "Get the app" page a full screen / pop-up overlay when a user enters the website? Just want to make sure I understand the context before answering :) – Clint Aug 12 '15 at 8:02
  • It's a separate page. The user gets there from a DHTML spread all over the website and a few other links: footer, main menu, etc. – JotaRMonteiro Aug 12 '15 at 18:26
  • If a person is on the desktop, what is the motivation to want to install a mobile app at that moment in the first place? – DA01 Aug 12 '15 at 20:01

An option that I like is "Text to myself". On desktop, offer a form to let the user text the link to their own mobile device. (This form would be hidden on mobile, of course.) I've seen this option used effectively on store locator pages, and I think it could work for your scenario, too.

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  • Love this one. Do you know how to handle that sort of thing? Do I have to deal with service providers? – JotaRMonteiro Aug 12 '15 at 14:03
  • @JotaRMonteiro Thanks! There are lots of APIs for text messaging, like Twilio or Clockwork. I've not implemented them myself, but they seem pretty easy to work with. – mhick Aug 13 '15 at 12:18

QR codes are simple data storage devices - You could encode the URL you want to send your users to (for example the URL for your app within the AppStore) and, when they scan the code with their device it will prompt them to accept the navigation command to that URL and they will end up looking at the page you specified.

Google Play does offer a more integrated solution: If the user has an integrated account (same login for web services and mobile services), then they can use their 'desktop' connection to request that an app is pushed to their device. This is such an obvious choice that I wouldn't be surprised if the app store allows logged in users to do this too but I have no experience of that... Otherwise you'll need 2 different QR codes - 1 for each platform.

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  • I wouldn't say QR codes are data storage devices, they're just visual indexes. Edit: After reading up on them, I realise they actually do provide data storage, albeit tiny. "Pretty barcodes". – insidesin Aug 11 '15 at 14:18
  • They are storage devices: the image you see is an encoded version of the data they are storing. I have used them as URL redirects and vCards and the data for each is stored directly within the pattern. A 'visual index' implies the the device would need to connect to a data base to look up the relevant data for that particular code (which you can also do with QR codes) but that is not necessary for small pieces of data such as URLs or vCard info – Andrew Martin Aug 11 '15 at 14:24
  • Technically the URL is the index. That's where I got confused for a second. Don't worry, I definitely agree with you. – insidesin Aug 11 '15 at 14:29
  • I'm not looking to use QR codes, they are not used by light or even average users. As for the integrated account, I guess it could help with android users, but not necessarily with iOS, as they don't necessarily have their accounts connected on desktop as commonly as Google users. – JotaRMonteiro Aug 11 '15 at 14:33
  • @JotaRMonteiro - I think that's where you might want to focus some research effort - I have no experience there (I'm an Android user) but that doesn't meant that it's less likely or doesn't happen for iOS users - If the facility is available to 'push' apps to their device then they may well use it - in which case your problem kinda solves itself! – Andrew Martin Aug 11 '15 at 14:37

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