Finding the GMail URL scheme for iOS


Posted: 29 Jan 2013

Tagged: iOS

In iOS, URL schemes are the standard way to open one application from another as well as to pass data to the newly open app. While the method is standard, the schemes used by various applications are not, so it tends to be a bit of an adventure determining how to launch applications made by third parties. The good people at HandleOpenURL.com are doing their best to catalogue apps but there are many gaps including, notably for me, GMail. It’s clear that such a scheme must exist because the various Google apps can not only launch GMail but can insert information into a new message being composed.

Determining the url prefix was relatively simple, it follows the scheme used by most Google products, and is googlegmail://. The trick is making it do more than just open the GMail app. My hope was to find a way to use the message identifier or some similar to be able to pull up specific messages, which I have still not determined how to do, but getting it to do a custom compose would at least be something.

The solution? Create an app that registers googlegmail://, uninstall the GMail app, install my custom one, and have it print whatever it gets sent on the URL. This is a relatively simple process, summed up well in this tutorial at mobiledevelopertips.com, so I wont go into the details here. After using Google Chrome for iOS to initiate a message in GMail, the resulting scheme turns out to be:

googlegmail:///co?subject=<subject text>&body=<body text>

Interesting note here, for many versions of iOS (no longer in 6.1, not sure when it changed) Safari would reject any URL which had no text between the second and third forward slash. In other words, this URL was effectively hidden from anyone testing through Safari, but works just fine from anything else. Very sneaky Google, very sneaky indeed.

Now if only there were a way to access a message directly by the id from the static URL

Update:

With the new release of GMail for iOS there have been some new developments, including the addition of the feature I was after in the first place, direct links to individual emails in the app. Read here for more information.

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