What is an API and why should you care?
One of the first things that clients will ask when building an app is if they can connect to third party services, not just social media channels like Facebook but, as an example, integrations such as Stripe for payments. The answer depends on what that site allows other developers to interact with and how they chose to display that information; These set of rules is called an API.
An API is an Application Programming Interface, which is best considered a brain that enables apps we create to communicate with external programs and services to expand what the app can do for its users. APIs are what enable you to have users purchase products using their preferred payment method, show them pickup locations on a map, and book rides to pick up their products, all without leaving your app. These APIs make for smooth user experiences, leading to higher conversion rates.
What does this mean for your app?
When our customers ask if they can integrate with a third party, we first need to understand the desired outcome. Once we understand that we can check to see if the API will support it.
For example, a client may want to show each product in a store complete with a picture, description, size selection, and an order now button, however the online retailer may have only set up their API to show a photo and name of the item. It’s important to understand the abilities and limitations of an API to properly plan your app functionality.
Other examples of commonly used API’s include weather apps, payment processors, google maps, and social media platforms.
Here’s five facts about APIs that you should know
- Many APIs run on pay-per-use models, meaning you do not pay for what you do not use
- Companies are being started with the sole purpose of selling meaningful APIs
- Companies you may not even think of when you think of software are beginning to build APIs, such as WalMart
- APIs allow you to delegate the handling of certain tasks, such as payment processing and identity verification, to enable you to focus on what your business is good at
- APIs can help you save money in the long run
To learn more about how your software systems and apps can utilize API’s contact us today!