Pre-pandemic, we were already on a track towards integrating every facet of our lives with technology; post-pandemic, when it’s no longer safe to go outside or do business in person, that process seems to be accelerating dramatically. For many, the future looks to be in careers in technology, whether that is a career in UX or UI web design, online entertainment, or spinning yourself as an entrepreneurial app developer.
With the significant amounts of money raked in by app developers each year, becoming an app developer might seem like the most lucrative of the options described above. The only thing is, going into app development, you won’t just need a concept that’s likely to be beneficial to your users and go “viral;” you’ll need a fundamental understanding of how your tech might need to work with other services to provide your users with a streamlined experience, and you’ll need to know how that process will work. Determining what kinds of data you’ll want to share with other apps, which agreements with other developers will be likely to draw traffic to your app, and what kinds of functions your users will find utility in will be necessary touchstones in the app development process.
If you don’t know any of this, being only a beginner in the app development industry, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything a burgeoning app developer needs to know about application programming interfaces (or APIs).
What are APIs?
The current trend in app development, dictated by the customers, is providing a streamlined, convenient experience that is easy to use and requires as little work on the part of the consumer as possible. Enter APIs, a way for developers to integrate their tech with other, more firmly established parties and their resources. APIs are contractual agreements between two parties that dictate the services and data exchanged when these parties’ services are used in conjunction with one another. As a result, APIs allow different services to work together under those pre-established conditions without any oversight from the applications’ publishers.
APIs tend to take a variety of forms, being used in a wide swath of industries for a variety of purposes. Think of APIs as the glue that holds our digitally integrated world together: without them, you would have to use each service individually independent of one another. You wouldn’t be able to track deliveries or the location of your rideshare driver, as these apps would have to operate without getting location data from services like google maps. Your phone would also not likely be as useful, as services like your weather app would likely have to have manufacturer-constructed infrastructures for getting weather data. That reason alone is one of the many benefits of weather API. At that point, your phone’s manufacturer would probably rather not include the service at all.
The Widespread Benefits of API Use
Aside from the obvious benefits, using APIs can provide a wellspring of beneficial side effects for burgeoning app developers, including:
- Expand your brand’s overall reach: consumers prefer using services that work in conjunction with services they already use, and so connecting your app to platforms like Google or Paypal will make it more likely that once new users pick up your app, they continue to use it in the future.
- Encouraging innovation in digital markets: with APIs, especially ones that are publicly sourced, developers have a framework of resources at their fingertips, making it easier to take ideas from concept to creation. Developers are, therefore, free to go big or go home, keeping the market competitive and creative.
- Extending the reach of your existing revenue channels: for developers that already have apps on the market, creating their own API and allowing new developers to use their service can also direct new traffic to their app, funneling a new channel of revenue directly from that shiny new app into your waiting pocket.
App Developers Take Note
Integrating APIs into the existing framework of your app is an excellent way to stay competitive in this connectivity-driven marketplace. Get a plan together, then implement it: there’s a massive network of exploitable resources out there to help you get your app from idea to marketable reality quickly.