Categories
Shortcuts

Generate iTunes Affiliate Links with Workflow

Shortcuts no longer supports shortcut file imports and workflow.is links no longer function. Any links to shortcuts in this post have been updated to use iCloud links.

Blink is a new iOS app that provides a great way to generate iTunes affiliate links. The app has a great feature set (such as Markdown formatting and in-app search results), though one feature I particularly like is that you can call Blink from the Action sheet within the iTunes or App Store and create an affiliate link directly.

While reading a review of Blink over at Macdrifter, Gabe Weatherhead had this little piece of advice:

Let me start by saying that even if you don’t have a blog, you should create an affiliate account and generate affiliate links. You’ll make some money back on your purchases you make with it.

This got me thinking about how useful it would be to have a workflow that not only creates an iTunes affiliate link within the iTunes or App Store, but include an option to immediately open that URL as well. With Workflow, I can.

Here’s a workflow I created that can be called from the Action sheet within the iTunes or App Store. An affiliate link is generated which will be copied to the clipboard in your choice of plain text, Markdown or HTML link (along with the app name), or you can simply open the link in the appropriate store.

Whenever I’m about to buy an app, I run the workflow before purchasing it. The Store still displays the item I was looking at, and the page is simply refreshed to use my affiliate code.

Make sure to edit the workflow and update the Text action with your own affiliate tracking code.

If you use iTunes affiliate links on a regular basis, I’d highly recommend checking out Blink – I have and it’s awesome.

Categories
Shortcuts

Subscribe to a Podcast Using its iTunes Store Link in Any Third-Party App with Workflow

Shortcuts no longer supports shortcut file imports and workflow.is links no longer function. Any links to shortcuts in this post have been updated to use iCloud links.

I’m an avid listener of podcasts and frequently use the Podcast app on iOS to look through the iTunes podcast directory. I dont, however, use the Podcasts app to listen to podcasts (I use Castro), which makes subscribing to a podcast I’ve found within the directory a bit of a chore.

The iTunes Store doesn’t surface a podcast’s feed, only providing an iTunes link (the same type of link used to link to music, apps or movies) when sharing from within the app. This means that the link will only work within iTunes or the Podcasts app, and it can’t be shared to another podcast app.

Since I can’t use the iTunes link to subscribe to a podcast in any other app, I have to do either of the following:

  1. Open Castro.
  2. Tap the + icon to add a new podcast.
  3. Search for the name of the podcast.
  4. Select the right podcast and subscribe.

Or:

  1. Visit the podcast’s website in Safari.
  2. Find the link to its RSS feed.
  3. Tap it, forgetting that Apple’s own Podcasts app handles RSS links.
  4. Switch back to Safari.
  5. Copy the link to the RSS feed.
  6. Open Castro.
  7. Tap the + icon to add a new podcast, at which point the URL in the clipboard is autofilled and I can then subscribe.

Ok, it’s not a long process, but it sure as hell is inconvenient.

Using Workflow for easier podcast subscriptions

A favourite of mine, Workflow is a fantastic automation tool that takes advantage of many features, such as extensions in iOS 8. Workflows can be run directly from the share sheet as an Action, providing a near-limitless number of possibilities.

After using Workflow for a few months, and reading what others have been able to do with it, I was determined to find a way to avoid either of the above processes when subscribing to a podcast, and I began to look for any way to somehow find the direct feed of a podcast from it’s iTunes link.

I stumbled upon this post on Super User, which explains how to decode an iTunes podcast link into a JSON file, surfacing all of its information – and the feed URL.

Using this information, I’ve created a workflow that can be called from the share sheet in iOS that will query the iTunes link, find the feed’s actual URL and pass it along to a third-party app of your choice, or just copy to the clipboard. You’re now able to browse the Podcast directory, or open any iTunes link to a podcast, and subscribe to any podcast using the app of your choice. No more app switching and searching for podcasts.

A quick rundown of what the workflow does to accomplish this:

  1. A regular expression is used to find the podcast’s ID number from the URL, storing it as the variable PodcastID.
  2. Gets the contents of the URL used to find more information about a feed, using PodcastID.
  3. Another regular expression is used to identify the feedUrl value, which gives us the feed’s direct URL and is saved as the variable PodcastURL.
  4. A menu is created with the option to copy PodcastURL to the clipboard, or open it in a number of third-party apps.
  5. An alert is displayed if the URL is copied to the clipboard.
  6. To open the feed in either Castro or Instacast, a regular expression is used to find and replace “http” or “https” with “castro” or “podcast”. For Overcast, Workflow includes a built-in action for Overcast which is used.