You may not know what exactly application programming interfaces (APIs) are, but you certainly use them daily, if not multiple times a day. Let’s imagine that you’re planning a vacation this summer and count how many times APIs are there behind the scenes.
First thing you do is logging into a travel search website using your Facebook account (hello, API #1). Then, you’ll probably want to search for the cheapest flights, say, to Lisbon (that’s API #2 for you). Once you select the flight, you’ll need to pay for the tickets via PayPal (that’s API #3). Also, don’t forget to check on your weather snippet to know the weather conditions in Lisbon, so you can pack your luggage accordingly (API #4, good to see you). By this time, you’ve already used at least four APIs, and by the end of this trip we’re likely to lose count of all APIs on your way.
The main benefit of an API is that it offers access to functionality or data from a third party, without the need to understand how the other software works. Based on our experience in software development, the JatApp team would like to explain the term of an API and give you some real-life examples from our practice, so you can better understand your project needs.
What’s API integration?
An API refers to an interface that supports connectivity and communication between multiple softwares, while API integration is connection between two or more apps via their APIs that allows softwares to share the data.
For example, Tripadvisor is an application that collects data from hotels and airlines by calling their APIs. Twitter bots, like Netflix bot, are also an API integration example. This is an account that automatically makes a tweet once the new content on Netflix is released.
How does API integration work?
Suppose that you arrive in Lisbon and want to try a traditional Portuguese tart, pastel de nata. So, you go to the local restaurant and look for a waiter to communicate your order to the chef, who is a provider that would carry out the order. A waiter, in this case, acts as an API, as they take an order, pass it to the chef, and deliver the dessert back to the table. Metaphorically speaking, the food is a response of the provider (also known as the chef) to your request. The API exchanges the data between the server and the code, acting as a mediator between the database and server and the software application.
How are APIs used in the real world?
Let’s discuss some examples from our practice to showcase common API use cases.
Integration with Apple Maps for 2BeAdventurous
A client from the UK turned to JatApp to build an iOS travel tracking application to enable users to document and share their trips with followers. The app allows to add a post with photos and geolocations.
2BeAdventurous app functionality
To let passionate travelers see their friends’ routes, the application interacts with Apple Maps’ API to access its data related to places and locations. Thanks to this integration, the first image of a post is an interactive map with locations that the traveler has explored. Our software developers used MapKit to incorporate maps directly into the mobile application. In such a way, each new place added is done in real time. This feature allows users to know where their friends exactly are, which creates a more engaging experience.
API integration with Apple Maps
Integration with IBM Tririga for a facility management company
Our agency helped a facility management company to build iOS and Android applications to report and address near misses. This app is integrated with the leading artificial intelligence (AI)-driven workplace management system from IBM.
Near misses refer to accidents that can potentially lead to injury or equipment damage. API integration enables data transfer and helps to avoid duplication of near miss reporting. The API delivers the space planning data from IBM Tririga to the Near Miss Reporting app. In this way, users can see where in the office someone left a lit cigarette or spilled water, and therefore effectively resolve an issue posing a threat to employees’ safety. To support this data transfer, our engineers used an XML-based integration software product from IBM.
API integration with IBM Tririga
Integration with PayPal for an online tutoring marketplace
The JatApp team created an online tutoring platform to help students receive professional homework help from qualified tutors. Students can post their questions on the and select a necessary deadline. Teachers view orders that have been placed and choose the one they would like to help with.
Online tutoring platform app functionality
Then, a student makes a deposit and this is when API integration enters the scene. When a student presses the “Pay with PayPal” button, the system sends a request to the PayPal API, indicating the amount of money and other relevant user information. Eventually, the API transmits payment confirmation back to the tutoring platform. Learners don’t need to leave the platform to pay for their tutoring services, which creates a seamless user experience.
API integration with PayPal
3 solid reasons why you need to use APIs
Today, customers expect fast data exchange between applications and APIs can deliver this kind of connected experience. Let’s have a look at major reasons why APIs in modern solutions are an absolute necessity rather than a nice-to-have.
Easier and faster data exchange
API makes it less challenging to exchange data with third party solutions that you need for successfully doing business. API integration allows to communicate with other systems faster and in real time. This speed helps to quickly address business challenges as soon as they arise, since the necessary data is available on demand.
For example, people now don’t want to waste their time typing their personal information to sign in. In this case, integration with Google or Facebook may come in handy, which allows users to automatically login into a website without having to make a whole new account. Such speed enables quick data transmission, which, in turn, helps users save time and brings convenience to their everyday routine.
Log in using Facebook
New market opportunities
API integration not only facilitates information exchange, but also helps to sell services in a new way. With such an approach, you’ll be able to create new partnerships and, as a result, build new sales channels. Therefore, you need to strive for cooperation with players that could take you to the new markets.
To give an example, Uber has made a smart move when opted for collaboration with Google Maps. Users can see the price for an Uber taxi and time of a ride via Google Maps. Thanks to Google Maps API, passengers can book a ride right from Google Maps, which makes their small journeys across the city easier. Through this integration, Uber also raises awareness about its brand among Google Maps users, thereby taking advantage of new market opportunities.
Uber’s API integration with Google Maps
Protection from industry disruptors
In each sector, there are innovators that disrupt the traditional ways of doing business. In a globalized and highly competitive world, it’s extremely important to keep pace with new methods to stay afloat and not let your rivals outshine you.
The logistics startup, Shypple, stands apart from competitors thanks to its API integration. Unlike traditional supply chain platforms, the company offers users transparency by integrating with different carriers. This allows the former to view all schedules and rates without the need to make phone calls and write long emails. Shypple capitalizes on the comfort it brings to its customers, beating the fierce competition in the logistics market.
Shypple’s integration with carriers
Use APIs to keep step with digital transformation
These days, almost all applications have API integrations. Don’t believe us? Just use your smartphone for a while to prove we’re right. When you pay with PayPal, book a taxi from Google Maps, login using Facebook, or buy flight tickets, you use APIs, either consciously or without a clue. API integrations with third parties have become increasingly common in our everyday digital lives, as well as changed the way companies are competing in today’s market.
If you want your application to have well-built API integrations, you need to turn to a vetted software development agency for professional help. JatApp has been creating both web and mobile apps for seven consecutive years and can boast a solid expertise in making API integrations. Moreover, JatApp has been recognized as a top local agency according to UpCity and one of 1,000 top B2B outsourcing companies in the world.
Need a hand? Please, contact us and we’ll reach out to you as early as possible.