Given the rise of cloud technology and interconnected services, you’ve probably heard of APIs, but you likely don’t know what they are. Everything you access online including websites, operating systems, apps, and digital tools uses APIs to communicate with each other and provide excellent services. Throughout this article, we’ll tell you what APIs are and how they’re beneficial.
What is an API?
Standing for Application Programming Interface, APIs are pre-existing digital services that can group together to build applications and digital products. For example, a restaurant app can use the Google Maps API to tell you where they are, the PayPal API for an easy payment option and their chosen reservations system’s API to let you take bookings.
The best way to view API is like a menu for developers – a series of digital services they can order and use. They won’t know how the service works behind the scenes, but they reap the rewards. After they’ve selected the required APIs, they’re often governed through API Management Tools, which provide thorough analytics that can be used to improve businesses.
Digital Service Communication
If the APIs were removed from the internet somehow, every website you use would likely become dysfunctional. For example, if you’re browsing your favorite restaurant or hotel and find TripAdvisor reviews, there’s a unique API buried in the code somewhere. If you’re trying to locate the restaurant or hotel, there’ll be a Google Maps API. The list of use cases for API is endless when it comes to websites. Recently, the OAuth Standard API became popular as a means of letting people log in to services through Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
Saving Time and Money
When developers create apps, they need to make sure every provision is accounted for in the code. However, building everything from scratch is time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, thanks to APIs, developers don’t need to create parts of their website from the bottom. For instance, they won’t need to build a booking engine because there are plenty of APIs to cover that.
As well as saving time, APIs save money because businesses don’t need to hire developers to write full codes. These days, the developer can be cut out altogether because of low-code management systems.
Controlling Resource Access
With APIs linking the majority of the internet together, websites need to seek permission to access personal data, which is why you’ll constantly be asked whether a website can send you notifications or view your location. This happens because the API provider requires permission before it can be used.
This third-party setup is safer for browsers than if websites had full control of data. For example, if left unchecked, a site can ask you for your location and never allow you to retract your permission. Whereas, if you give permission erroneously to an API, you can easily withdraw consent in Google’s settings.
APIs are used across digital services to provide smooth user experiences and save time. Part of this experience requires service communication and full control of data given to the end-user.