What Is An API (Application Programming Interface) and Why You Should Care
API (Application Programming Interface) isn’t just another tech term that has rained down from “the cloud.” It’s a vital conversation of sorts between your software and another service – one that allows for key data integration and management.
Not convinced that APIs are for you? Maybe there’s more to learn.
Defining API: An Exercise in Communication
There’s a great discourse around APIs in the business world, but to understand the chatter, first, you must overcome a deluge of other techie terms. Let’s take the jargon out of it. Simply put, an API represents communication between your system—an app for example—and a third-party server. Since an API represents a programming language, it’s easiest to explain it as a conversation or an exercise in communication for website development.
Imagine this: Your app places a call to a computer (or server) asking it for information. The computer answers the phone, so to speak, and responds with the requested information. The API is like the telephone line that makes the call possible.
Who Uses APIs Anyway?
Since APIs are available from many different companies that offer a range of services, the possibilities for API integration are somewhat endless. How you’ll use an API depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Whatever your reason for leveraging an API—and there are many—the endgame is to provide a seamless experience that doesn’t require the user to navigate away from your app or website.
To understand an API’s role in business, together with a developer you’ll consider your company’s needs alongside the available APIs. It’s likely you already have an idea of the situation that requires the API, as well as the service your app needs to call on. When it comes to who uses an API, it’s best to consider examples of why a company might use one.
Here’s an instance of a well-known API and the hypothetical reason why a business service might call on it:
Google Places API – An API that allows developers to connect with Google’s comprehensive locations database that returns detailed information about each place.
Example Usage Scenario – A company wants to create an app that will act as the number one source for cheap travel accommodations; however, first it must compile a list of hotels throughout the U.S and a short list of facts about each. This list must also be searchable and viewable in a map format.
Google’s “Place Search” and “Place Details” features of the Places API make it possible for this company to call on Google’s robust database of places, including hotels, as well as important location details and even reviews. Because the company can integrate this information with its app, it will eliminate the need to compile a hotel database from scratch – saving it thousands of hours of compiling and application development.
APIs and Your Business
Any business can benefit from an API; however, ultimately, the service that your business might “dial up” depends on your company’s objectives.
APIs are far from a one-size-fits-all solution. There are a number of general API methods that can drive unique results. A developer will work with you to determine what solution and API is right for your business.
Contact Oyova today to discuss your goals, and find out how we can help you integrate your website & app development with an API.
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