What is an API?

The best way to understand what APIs do is through real-world scenarios.
So when are you using APIs? Have you ever checked live bus times on your phone? Or monitored traffic during rush hour? If you answered yes (you did), you’ve been using APIs for years and it’s been pulling data to make sure you get home on time!

The API is the middleman – it creates a handshake between the software you use and the data you need. This gives users the data they need for a specific purpose.Say you want to create a blog that reviews travel gear. After waxing lyrical about a certain backpack – you decide that you would like your readers to buy this item your site. Using Amazon’s API – which allows you to access product information – all of your avid readers will be able to purchase from your blog! Adding a whole new layer of interactivity to your blog.An easier example of an API working its magic is when you buy movie tickets online.

When you select the movie and enter your credit card details, an API will transmit data to another app that verifies your information and processes the payment. Once confirmed, the verification application allows the tickets to be released.In the last three years, the number of APIs has increased significantly, counting at more than 10,000! This is thanks in part to the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). APIs are at the heart of the IoT  without it, communication between different-purpose built devices would be troublesome.Many of the big players – including Google, Twitter, Facebook – have their own APIs that anyone can use. With the Google Maps API, you can access all the great functionality of Google Maps and integrate it into your own website or mobile application.Next time you’re house hunting, searching for local eateries or hunting tiny monsters on Pokemon Go – be sure to thank Google Maps for the assist!APIs have pervaded every industry as companies continue to open up the valuable data they’ve collected on customers. This shift in thinking is helping companies to innovate faster and encourages growth.Adding features and functions to an application has never been simpler, thanks to APIs. They’ve changed the shape of every industry and have become an integral part of application development.

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