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What is an API

Chances are that you’ve come across the term API before. It is usually seen when we accept an update on the software we use. These include mobile apps, operative system and search engines. Despite this, it may be the case that you don’t have any idea of what an API is good for, right?

Application Programming Interface

API stands for Application Programming Interface. Think of API as a factory. The factory has a list of the products they manufacture. When they receive an order, the factory starts working and provides the desired product. Clients don’t care about how the product was made, they only need to have it available. APIs behave similarly to factories. APIs have a list of the operations they can produce and their use. Programmers and developers are able to choose and use operations from “the list”. 

For instance, developers are not interested in knowing how an operative system keeps the score of a game app. They only know that they need it available for their clients when they use the app. Of course, the process is not that simple. In order to get the right operation going on, developers must provide some data so they’re not actually unaware of how the API works.

APIs help developers to save time and get better results, faster. As a result, there’s a significant reduction in the amount of created codes but it also adds more consistency across the platform to apps in general.

APIs are great to enhance communications between different services

APIs have many uses. For instance, when you’re looking for directions on how to get to a certain place and you see the Google map on their website, it means that the website is using an API from Google Maps to use it on its website. Google uses these types of APIs so developers can use them and be more effective. Without APIs, website developers would have to come up with their own maps and map data so they can include it on their website.

This means that Google can control access to Google Maps on external websites. This is to make sure that their APIs are being well implemented. They’re simply making sure that customers get a positive experience overall.

APIs are present in many ways on the internet, not just like Maps on a website to get directions. You can see them as embedded facebook comments or tweets on websites.

APIs help to get more control access to resources

Another important use of APIs have is that they help to control access to certain hardware devices. It also helps to gain control over certain software functions. The reason for this use is that sometimes an application doesn’t have enough permissions to use. APIs are greatly used also in terms of security.

For instance, when websites ask you to give them your location, it means that the website wants to use your API geolocation of your web browser. APIs are exposed through websites so your location can be found more easily by web developers.

Nevertheless,  browsers are also capable to display this info via API. If a website wanted to have your location, they can only do it through the API location. When a website tries to use it, you have the free will to decide whether you grant access or not. Hardware resources, like the GPS component, are only accessible through the API, hence the browser controls access and establishes limits to what the application can do.

This principle is implemented on mobile operating systems, like the ones mobile phones use, like android or iOS. That’s why every single time you want to use an app’s feature, it tells you that the app wants your permission to use a certain feature of your mobile. It all comes down to whether you grant access or not. Try it yourself, download any app, like Whatsapp and try to send a voice message, the system will tell you that the app is trying to get access to your microphone. Typical applications must access files through APIs always.

APIs make everything easier for developers

Developers who create apps for iOS, must look at Apple’s operating system to get a vast quantity of APIs to make everything easier for the user. When developers embed web browsers to show more than one page, they rely on APIs to make it possible.

There you have it, a brief explanation of what an API is and what it entails for you as well as for the developers. For regular app users, it’s really not necessary to know what an API is unless you’re either a developer or a real API enthusiast. Just keep it in mind the next time you see the word. When you see that a service or platform added new APIs, think of them as an easier way for developers to take advantage of some interesting features.

Remember, if you want to know more about this or any other informative topic, do not hesitate to let us know. We’ll be more than happy to clear all doubts. Just click here to have one of our team members help you with your inquiries.

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