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How To Make an App Using API [Complete Guide]
Tuesday May 21, 2019
App developers or any individual wanting to build an application today and become a part of the 2.1 million apps in Google Play store and 1.8 million in Apple App Store must have heard of the technical term API (application programming interface).
API develop mobile apps and third-party software programmes interact with one another. A known example of APIs in action is the ability to log into services or accounts with your Facebook login credentials.
For instance, you can log into Uber by using the credentials of your Facebook account.
According to Twilio’s James Parton, “APIs are going to be the driver for the digital economy and unless they (companies) are talking about APIs already, they will be left behind.”
This shows that API has become an accepted tool to develop mobile apps. But what exactly is API and its benefits?
As you must be aware, technology was not born yesterday. It has taken years to evolve and grow. Yet, until a few years back, it has only been about people communicating with a machine or a man working with machine.
APIs for iOS, Android or mobile applications of any other OS have made it easy for things to communicate, connect and work. The best example will be wearables attached to your body and connecting it with apps.
To put it simply, APIs allow one program or application to make use of the capabilities of another software or application.
Brands like, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, eBay, Netflix, Dropbox and Uber have built apps with API integration and intelligently used APIs to make their app perform certain actions like, geo-location, social preferences and usability.
To develop mobile apps, API makes it possible for the exchange of data with web services, such as Facebook, Google Maps or other such web services and take advantages of their offerings and popularity.
Today, there are other types of APIs used by businesses like, chat APIs, payment APIs, tracking and location APIs and analytics APIs.
Application of APIs
When developing an application, APIs have multiple usage making them a versatile tool. They can be used as per your requirement. The access points of a system are ruled by API.
By using APIs, developers have this massive independence in manipulating the application or system that they are developing.
Benefits of APIs
- Saves time – APIs save a lot of time when developing an application. This is because it puts an end to the need of coding the entire thing in order to make it work. They are available readily from reputed web services. For example, app developers can make use of DropBox API or Google Drive API in their gaming apps, making it possible for users to save the progress of their game session into a cloud-based storage that can be retrieved whenever you want to.
- Provides new function without the hassle of coding from the scratch – Building apps with APIs allow developers to provide something unique to the users. You can look at Yelp for inspiration. This popular mobile app lets users search for the best eating places in town based on the recommendations and reviews from Yelp users. After helping users find what they are looking for, the app uses the Google Map API in Android to help users locate the eating place on the map. In the iPhone version of the app, the Apple Maps API helps users locate the restaurant. You can also use APIs intelligently to offer a superior user experience.
- Convenience – Apps with API allow users to use their Facebook or Google user details to sign in without the need to create a new login account. This is an excellent example of convenience.
- Flexibility – Today, majority of apps allow users to share information on different social media platforms like, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram. APIs make it possible to share articles, post reviews and comments, without having to leave the app
So, APIs are basically everywhere, and users are probably using it without their knowledge.
But, when you are involved to develop mobile apps, there is only question that you need to ask – whether to buy or build API by yourself?
Read Also: 11 Easy Steps to Create a Mobile Application
Buy or build?
There is no confusion regarding the need to integrate an API. But you need to decide on how to do it.
The first option is to integrate an API that is already existing into an application. The second option is to build a new one by yourself. Obviously, the first option is a no brainer as it saves a lot of money, time and needs lesser experience.
On the other hand, building an API from the scratch will allow more room for customization according to your specific needs whilst maintaining a high standard of security.
Remember the Following When Building an API from The Scratch
If you decide to build an API, do not forget to insert a developer key. This will make sure that whoever wants to use the API has to insert a specific code for using it. This way, it stays away from hacking, misuse and abuse.
- Process documentation
You must document of the process of the API development so that it is easier to track the progress. Also, proper documentation will ensure that the user or you is kept updated about the past and present status of the API.
- Plan your update
There will definitely be a time when you have to roll out an update in the future for the API. You must ensure that it is a planned one. Make sure that the development of the API is such that it is safe and easy to roll out updates when it is needed. In case you are careless, the chances of messing up the functionalities of the apps based on the API are high.
Mobile app development best practices with API
- It is essential to build a solid foundation and also invest both up and down the stack to be able to create a responsive digital experience for the users. Take the necessary steps to make sure that your mobile application is not sitting on a slow API as that will provide a very poor user-experience.
- Reduce API calls and network chatter as that leads to draining the battering life of mobile devices.
- In order to meet the growing demands for new digital experiences, you need to move the points of integration from large systems to micro-services architecture.
- Remember that every change that you do in the backend will be affecting the performance of the API of the front-end application that expends it. So, every architectural decision must be precise.
The reason why mobile apps creation is to perform basic functions – communication, interactions and delivery.
But, think about the purpose that the apps will serve if they did not have anything worth transacting, communicating or delivering. Across the world, businesses are sitting on a lot of intellectual property that can be used in the form of APIs.
By using APIs, you can extend the usability of data beyond conventional boundaries. Without APIs, the future of mobile app development would have been bleak.