Generally speaking, APIs may sound strange to the public. Do you realize that without this technical component, the world as we know it today would not exist?
Using social media apps on a smartphone would be impossible without APIs, for instance. The simplest use of an app to post something on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn will involve APIs. YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify are all examples of online streaming services.
Mobile devices cannot use these services without APIs. We are surrounded by APIs every day and most of the time without even realizing it.
APIs are used in most tech projects and are embedded in our daily lives.
How do APIs work? What are their purposes? We explore this app development component that helps to reshape a digital world that continues to change every day.
Beyond the acronym
Application programming interfaces are called APIs. Software applications are defined as a set of components, tools, and rules (protocols). They are responsible for enabling two (or more) independently designed systems to communicate. In summary, APIs enable two software systems, and most commonly, applications, to exchange information.
In the digital world, APIs are like post services. Imagine that you want to write your friend a letter. Drop the letter into the post box after you write your letter and put down the address. After your letter is picked up by the mail carrier, it is delivered to your friend, who reads it and responds with their letter.
The API transports digital messages (data) between two destinations in the digital world. Imagine that you are a developer and would like to add weather forecasting capability to your app. Your app would send a weather request via Google’s API (the post) to Google (your friend). A Google response (their letter) would also be returned to your app through their API. After receiving the response, your app can then display the current day’s weather.
What are the real-world uses of APIs? Here are a few examples.
1. Social logins
Have you ever noticed how easy it is today to join multiple digital services without having to register? Imagine discovering a new streaming music service. But you’d rather not go through the signup process. As soon as you click on “Continue with Facebook” or “Continue with Google” you are presented with an option. Click and you are done! In a matter of seconds, you created an account without manually filling out any profile information.
How did the streaming app do that?
Facebook and Google’s login APIs allow app developers to streamline the sign-up process. As a result, the music app, in our example, asks Facebook or Google to send it information. A code returned by the API allows access to the music app the user.
Another good example of this is the in-app purchase API. Several apps provide paid add-ons and premium features additionally the basic features.
Players can level up in mobile game apps like Pokémon Go by spending money on the game. Payment APIs are implemented in the game app so users can do this.
To make it easier to purchase add-on, premium features, or other paid content, most developers integrate their apps with iTunes or Google Play’s in-app purchase APIs. The ease of making purchases in-app cuts the need to enter payment information whenever a transaction is made. In this way, developers enable Apple or Google to keep their apps’ payment systems by connecting to their in-app purchase APIs.
Additionally, since the developers do not have to create an in-app purchase mechanism from scratch, they are free to concentrate on other aspects of their apps.
Additionally Expedite and Booking.com, fare aggregators also use APIs. Let’s imagine you’re planning a vacation. You want the best possible way to save money. A travel fare aggregator site will allow you to compare prices instead of visiting the individual websites of various airlines and hotels.
You can search for the cheapest airline tickets and hotel rooms on the aggregator site, which partners with hundreds of airlines and accommodations. By connecting their websites or apps to their partners’ APIs, travel fare aggregators will be able to use data from partner websites in a suitable manner.
APIs are a crucial part of the world of app development, as the app developers at Appetizer App Development can attest to. The question is, why?
Because of APIs, it has become easier than ever before to build creative, functional, and innovative applications.rush and PUBG Mobile, as well as in apps including VSCO.
Let us say I want to make an app. To complement our unique selling points, my team decided to add a chat mechanism to our app during the app development process. Despite this, we would still like to introduce our app idea soon. Could you tell me how I can get this project completed within a reasonable time frame without compromising quality?
Thankfully, APIs have made it possible. Web developers are now able to use third-party APIs to leverage existing solutions. So, each feature does not have to be built from scratch.
As an example, I would connect my application to an API of a cloud communication platform (a third-party service) to get this done. Briefly, we’re enabling our chat mechanism through someone who can authenticate.
I can focus my energy on developing my unique selling propositions by using a third-party API to implement an existing solution. Additionally, if I build the chat mechanism from scratch, it will launch much faster.
Third-party API providers have taken the necessary steps to test the APIs so that they are market-ready before implementing solutions. Implementing solutions via third-party APIs has an additional benefit in that they usually have already been “battle-tested.” When third parties release stable versions of their APIs, they take the time to make their APIs as future-proof as possible.
There will still be some bugs in the solutions from time to time, of course. Nevertheless, they would be far fewer than if I had built them myself. Already existing solutions have often become more secure. It should be possible to address security holes that surfaced – especially in the beginning stages – if the solution has already been implemented by several apps.
Several APIs can be used for free, while others are effortless to use.
However, of course they have limitations!
APIs are not perfect, just like any other technology. When implementing a third-party API, or developing your own API, consider the following points:
One size does not fit all
APIs from third parties are generally designed for mass consumption, with limitations determined exclusively by their purpose. Developers who have custom requirements for an app may have to consult with a third-party provider to come up with a solution. Whether the third-party provider is willing to accommodate the developer’s requirement is, of course, contingent on their willingness to cooperate. In the unlikely event that this does not happen, the developer may have to find an alternative solution or forgo the feature entirely.
API updates are essential for app developers. The software developer kits (SDKs) are typically provided by third-party services to ease API integration. Developers can use SDKs to integrate services into their applications by using various tools, documentation, and code examples. Integration of APIs is made easier this way. Developers must keep up with any changes resulting from SDK updates since SDKs are often updated. In need of bug fixes, security patches, and bug patches, maintenance requirements may increase. As well as this, third-party services may implement changes to their APIs and/or SDKs that may affect them. It is therefore important for developers to be prepared for the launch of any new versions of their apps.
Trouble with incompatibilities
Platforms and devices being targeted may not be compatible with the API or service being considered. Consider connecting your app to niche service. Additionally, you learn that the service is only compatible with old iOS or Android versions. The niche service may not be necessary if you are only interested in targeting the latest iOS and Android versions.
Almost every business today scaled back or even ceased operations due to today’s volatile market. Developing companies are no different. The apps heavily reliant on a third-party service would need to find an alternative solution like the existing one if it closes down. However, if the app does not have a restore option, the risk posed here is that it may also crash. Companies need to consider third-party services that will offer them long-term support for their apps. The length of commitment is usually indicated in the agreement of many services today. The third-party provider is thus somehow assured that the service will not suddenly cease.
The risk of shutting down an API is inherent in any API integration, regardless of business size and success. Facebook’s Account Kit, for instance, supplied developers’ tools to authenticate users easily. Many developers were left looking for expensive alternatives when Facebook shut down this service in March 2020.
Recent years have seen a significant increase in API usage among web and mobile app developers – and this trend is not likely to stop soon. The reasons are obvious, given the big impact and advantages APIs can provide.
Choosing APIs and third-party services can be difficult when building technology, but you will have to recreate a great deal of functionality if you do not. Your product may be more widely adopted if you build APIs for it. Pick the right partners and services carefully, and you will be in the best position to succeed.