TechnologyWhat is an API, what is it for and...

What is an API, what is it for and how can you take advantage of it?

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Do you wonder what an API is? According to Gartner, API traffic now dominates the web. Technology analysts expect investments in these to increase 37% in 2022.

Indeed, APIs play a key role. Especially in the development of web and mobile applications. Obviously, companies now rely heavily on them to run their products and services. So its boom is not surprising, as they allow developers to integrate with any modern technology. Which, in turn, provides the features customers need.

To understand it better, let’s see what an API is and what are its most important features.

What is an API and what does it mean for companies?

API stands for Application Programming Interfaces. Through these, the development and innovation of software is facilitated. In this way, programs communicate data and secure functions, quickly. Thus, these interfaces speed up innovation, because more developers can build products based on existing data and functionality.

If you’re still wondering what an API is, think of it as a messenger. Whoever receives requests, translates them and returns responses. When you sit at a bar, the bartender takes your order. He then forwards it to the kitchen and returns with your food. In this scenario, the waiter acts as an intermediary.

Now, why should companies and businesses consider them? Any tool that eliminates the heavy lifting, streamlines the business and has a good return on investment should be implemented.

As businesses adopt cloud-based applications and functionality, their customers are demanding a better user experience. Indeed, companies require flexibility, ease of integration and data. This is offered by the aforementioned interfaces instantly upon implementation.

Characteristics of an Application Programming Interface

What should you look for in an API? These are the key features to look for, even if you are in the process of developing an API to power your business.

  • Ease of use: intuitive and easy to use. They do not require a lot of training or documents to get started.
  • Flexibility – They can be used in a variety of ways. They are not limited to a single use case or integration scenario. For example, an interface that can be used to build a mobile app, web app, or IoT device is more flexible than one that can only be used for a single purpose.
  • Reliability: They are produced on stable, reliable platforms that won’t break down when you need them most. You should be able to handle the load and increase API calls if you expect a lot of traffic.
  • Security: they must protect your data and transactions.

What is an API and what are its most common uses?

The scope for creating such interfaces is expanding and many companies are looking for developers to build applications for them. There are a variety of resources to help you broadly understand what an API is. Meanwhile, here is a list of ideas of what you can achieve with them.

Financial applications

Your bank uses an internal API to manage aspects of your finances. From checking and savings accounts to credit cards. Customer service will require a different set of software than the technical aspects of account management, but both functions need to be connected. In this sense, the interface keeps these departments together under a single execution in their internal circuits.

Electronic commerce

Make any purchase online and you will see the option, “pay with: Credit Cards, Debit Cards, PayPal”, at the end of the purchase. Once again, the store does not directly access your bank account. Instead, you send the purchase order to your bank’s API and your bank takes care of the rest of the transaction.

Third Party Logins

Many web applications allow users to log in with their Facebook, Google, Instagram, etc. accounts. But this does not mean that they have access to your social networks.

Instead, the application makes a local API call to check if the user is already logged in to the third-party website. The API executes the confirmation and then handles the authentication for the application.

Finally, the weather, maps, travel APIs and much more are added. APIs are everywhere and you only need to pick up your smartphone to see them in action. Now that you are clear about what an API is, you can start to imagine how to apply it in your company.

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