Have you ever thought how a transportation app like- Uber or Lyft lets you track the real-time location of the drivers coming to pick up you on the Google Map, enable you to make payment in no time with PayPal, make chatting possible while riding, or allow you to share the ride with your friend on Facebook, all using the same app.
Certainly, Google Map, PayPal, and Facebook in the above example are the products of leading tech giants, so how the apps that we use daily, are able to offer these services? The top players actually provide the web services and using the API, the developers can incorporate the same services on the mobile app.
What the heck is an API (Application Programming Interface)?
API is the foundational technology working behind every mobile application development companies which allow developers to access and use the existing code of information in another app leveraging an API key. It makes the API, a vital business tool to build the application from the ground up in a short period of time and communicate with another app or services immediately, along with sharing the data whenever necessary.
In a nutshell, an API is a set of protocols or tools which makes app development easier by providing all the ready-made building blocks of the application that developers have to just put together. It makes the app development faster, eliminate repeat coding and remove the redundant stack setup for every app. These benefits are making the APIs- a backbone of the app development world.
However, many times, the API is used interchangeably with SDK, which is a big mistake. Both of them are interrelated, but there is a wide difference between an API and SDK.
Let’s see what is it:
Both the SDK and API are used to craft the feature-rich applications, but API is a set of instructions and standards that are used to access any service or tool and SDK is a development kit that contains all the tools needed to build an application where APIs, programming tools, and documentation are the part of it. It means API can be a subset of the SDK, but vice-versa is implausible.
Now, the what and how part of the API is clear. Let’s delve a little deeper to know how they impact and shape the app development with rewarding benefits:
Optimal investment of time
In this digital ecosystem, the smart work really paid off as opposed to hard work. Logging into the account with Facebook, in place of writing the credentials is the best instance of it, that’s easy and delight the users. So is the event with developers, APIs are a huge time saver which shortens the app development cycle with the reduced number of lines of code and decreased chances of making errors.
The reluctance to APIs only brings disaster, while API-driven app development improves the productivity and aids in delivering modern web experiences.
The business benefits: The diminished app development time and efforts result in the less amount of dollars to spend on app development and reduce the time-to-market for the app.
Remove the boilerplate code
The definition of the API illustrates that it’s a ready-made block of codes for various types of services, which means for building a specific type of service, functionality, or backend, the developers are not required to write code. Many times, the same type of functionality is repetitively required, which indicates writing the code for the same functionality again and again.
APIs help the developers get rid of such repetitive steps by connecting the right SDK with APIs and complete the project quickly. This way developers can instead of reinventing the wheel in building the feature from the scratch, they can pay more attention towards the development of other important features in the application.
The business benefit: Help the businesses focus on what they are good at and boost their core competencies.
Avail the third-party services and functionality
Building the Google map, Facebook or Twitter-like functionality in the app is quite complex and ensuring the great performance of such functionalities when they get built cannot be guaranteed. Many times, for every piece of functionality, having an API is not essential. This is where using third-party services and functionalities from other apps is a better solution. Also, their APIs help.
Leveraging API, the developers can have access to the ready-made resources prepared by the organizations and these functions can be incorporated via code sharing.
The business benefit: Engineering a one-of-a-kind application by making use of existing services cut down the spending on development, which businesses can use to increase the marketing budget and fuel up the revenue.
Leverage social APIs to get social benefits
Social media is a powerful platform for the businesses to improve the app’s visibility, brand awareness and gain user traction in the market. The app marketing on a social platform won’t bring the returns of that scale which the app sharing on social channels by the existing user can bring.
This is where integration of social APIs like- Facebook API, Twitter API, Pinterest API or Instagram API is a great help which lets user share, review and rates the app without closing the application. The incredible increase in social APIs usage is observed in the last decade due to augmented social browsing by the people across the globe.
The business benefit: The social engagement can easily improve businesses in a modern era with increased reviews, ratings and comments.
In the absence of API usage, re-writing of the same programs for the specific functionality stifle the innovation as the developers stay engaged in building trivial features. The barrier to innovation can be alleviated by leveraging APIs.
The ready-made solutions provide the developers optimum time to use their creativity and state-of-the-art skills in developing modernized solutions. In this manner, APIs not just power the apps while making its great contribution in encouraging technical evolution.
The business benefit: It helps businesses stand out in the competition with better products and having a presence on multiple platforms enable the businesses to monetize easily.
Buck up the mobile app testing
Without any doubt, manual testing is the best to ensure the quality of mobile applications. But, this thorough testing is very long that in turn adds to the app development time for the changes required.
On the other hand, using API, the test automation can be executed which lower down the app testing time, minimizes the chances of bugs remain undetected, assure the app’s quality and let the app matches the client’s expectations.
The business benefit: A flawless app can be launched on the market at a speed that delights the users.
The future: APIs is a promise
“A next-generation mobile strategy will identify how the APIs that enable the mobile capabilities will be sourced and managed,” – stated by the Gartner analyst.
Going beyond traditional strategies and expensive measures, the API provides a window for the developers to communicate, interact and transact with the best-of-the-breed components with the reduced investment of time, efforts and dollars. Irrespective of the company size, APIs offer the opportunity to scale, encourage innovation, reach a wider audience and increase revenue.
How a business wins or loses is increasingly dependent on how well they connect to external party apps, devices, and services. For sure, embracing API for mobile app development is the wild west. Go ahead to explore the APIs and see what works for your business.