What is an API (Application Program Interface)?

15 Nov.,2022


Pharmaceutical Intermediate

When Is an API Used in Business?

APIs can be used at any point in a software development scenario, such as when two different systems need to access each other or when an external piece of software needs to be joined to an existing system. APIs are a vital tool for all organizations that use any mix of modern software.

For example, a company website will use an API to link between an embedded Google Map on the About Us page and Google Maps itself. A company embeds Google Maps on its website to help readers find the nearest branch locations. This is accomplished by the company consuming Google's public APIs.

The API on the company site is essentially calling the API on Google Maps to provide them with the information and functionality. And of course, this is good for both sides of the interaction. The company website enhanced their functionality while Google Maps can monetize this type of data sharing through a fee or brand the map to enhance their marketing efforts.

Any transactional or service-based business uses APIs to derive marketing benefits from multiple interfaces. There are also a range of commonly used apps that you can connect to via APIs, like Uber, Yelp, Google Maps, and Dropbox ; the list of apps and programs accessible via API are endless. Another common example is APIs allowing customers to sign into a website via their Facebook or Google log in. Additionally, every time you ‘share’ an article online, you’ll click an icon that allows you to share a link via that medium, like Twitter, Gmail, or Facebook. All these services are enabled by APIs.

In a larger sense, APIs have enabled some businesses to grow and expand. Instead of a business developing their own software for payment, communication, data integration, or any number of other actions, an API means external third-party software works perfectly within their internal systems.

In a macro example, the White House has released thousands of APIs that give the public access to information about the government, from finances, to healthcare, to agriculture. The public can find polling stations, information about food safety, or other beneficial information— freeing up valuable time.

Why Use An API?

APIs allow an organization to extend their own software and data usage to applications and data that they do not own. This allows a range of benefits such as increased functionality, cost-savings, tech innovation, and streamlined operations:

  • Increased functionality for customers: Businesses can offer customers an enhanced customer experience because they have access to whole new data sets and functions. For instance, when you embed a Google Map into your website, you saved the user from having to click on yet another website or application, saving them time, increasing the likelihood that they will be a repeat customer.
  • Save Money: Rather than hiring expensive developers to create custom software, companies can have seamless integrations across apps and programs together using APIs. Companies can leverage existing software, rather than developing their own, saving money on R&D.
  • Save Time: There are no delays in software development, as the API is generally already written and just needs integration with each end.
  • Communicate Better:As new software is added to a business, APIs integrate everything together so the flow of information is seamless.
  • Link Seamlessly: Almost any smart appliance or application is now linked to the internet. From fridges to printers, modern technology is now a web of items. APIs allow these smart devices to connect for ease of printing or even ordering a coffee from your desk.
  • Extend Marketing Reach:. APIs from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms allow for the easy sharing of blogs, information, or offers at the click of a button.
  • Encourage Innovation: With the security and functionality that APIs provide, developers are only limited by their imagination.
  • Streamline Operations: For instance, if a business is developing a travel app, an API allows a customer to go from the plane, to a rideshare, to the hotel, without having to leave the interface or login elsewhere. With APIs, businesses can link booking, payment, and fulfillment components together.
  • Innovate Faster: Faster innovation with less barriers to change. Ready-made APIs mean less developer time and faster results. Developers can adapt to a new software or program quickly and easily.

Many APIs are free with companies or developers giving the software away at no cost. This is generally because using their program extends the reach of the software and their push into a market, creating more users for them.