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The Hidden Network Running Your Devices: Application Programming Interfaces

January 31, 2022 No Comments

Featured article by Umair Asif

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As technology has developed, consumer expectations regarding the technology they purchase have also changed, with users coming to expect seamless, connective experiences from their investments. New developments from big tech companies such as Facebook, which is transforming its platform into an experimental, connective digital universe, seem to suggest that not only is connectivity the ideal of the present, but it’s what we can expect of the future.

Yet, though all of us value the ability to connect to the same services across the same family of devices, the ability to access several websites with a single account, and ever-present access to a wealth of information on various subjects, few of us ever stop to ponder how our technology brings us these experiences. If you’re looking to enter the app development space, knowing how different systems are able to connect with one another is an absolute must, as connectivity has proven to be one of the most important aspects of successful app development.

As a burgeoning app developer, you have an idea that you believe fills a needed hole in the market, and you’ve maybe even taken the necessary steps to write the programming, turning that idea into a product that consumers will want. However, you don’t have the ability to connect your app to a framework of relevant apps and services that consumers will want to use your application in conjunction with. At least, not right now; For that, you’ll need to explore different application programming interfaces (or APIs).

What Are APIs?

APIs are, in short, an agreement between two entities that allows them to work with one another and share data under pre-arranged circumstances without needing constant oversight by the programs’ creators. Though few users might be aware of how they work in their favor, APIs are the most important component in creating a seamless experience for the consumer; without them, consumers would have to use each application and service independent of each other (or worse, have to permit their applications to work together every time).

APIs can be as limited in scope as the program developer wishes, as there are both open-source and limited APIs available for developers to experiment with. Open-source APIs are able to work with any kind of third-party software, being left completely open by the developers, while limited APIs pair only with particular applications (usually, permission for this is given via transaction).

You’re probably already familiar with a number of common APIs: one common API allows you to pay with services like Paypal on e-commerce sites, making it possible for you to conduct transactions without entering your credit card details every time. Other APIs add functionality to your phone, providing you with a constant stream of information from sources such as news sites. If you’ve ever swiped left to be greeted with a pop-up widget telling you about the latest stock market trends, or one hiker’s wacky adventure in the national forests, you have an API to thank.

Why Are APIs Valuable to App Developers?

Where APIs are extremely valuable for app developers is that they allow app developers who are presenting wholly new bits of programming to the market to integrate with more established programs and services, keeping the market competitive by making new technologies just as functional and accessible as older ones. APIs allow developers to patch their application into an existing framework of services that are useful to consumers, allowing them to add features to their application like real-time weather data, finance calculators, sports stats and records, and more.

With our culture’s more recent focus on connectivity, any app developer who wants to be competitive in their space needs to be intimately familiar with the APIs that are available.

APIs have been working on your and your customers’ behalf all along. And believe this, though your customers might not notice anything when APIs are doing their job, they will certainly notice when APIs aren’t involved. Our technology and our fast-paced culture both are entirely dependent on APIs to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. If you’re an app developer, don’t forget to include this essential ingredient before releasing your product to the public.

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