Today, APIs have become fundamental to applications, and there are countless APIs available that provide access to all kinds of data. Whether we know it or not, we utilize APIs daily in our lives, and this guide will cover some of them.
Before we see some examples, let's discuss what an API is and how it works.
The Application Programming Interface (API) is like a middle man connecting two sides. It is like a waiter who takes your order and brings you food, connecting the guests with the kitchen. Imagine that you are building a trading platform. You will need to support various features like exchange of currency, fluctuation of market rates, authentication, payment processing, and much more. Building and maintaining such functionalities is difficult. To resolve these issues, you can use APIs that provide such features.
Today, countless APIs are available on the world wide web, providing access to all kinds of data. They have become essential to software applications today. You can use them to build web, desktop, mobile applications, CLI tools, extensions, etc.
Below is an interactive view of how an API fetches data using a Time API.
We can find the use of APIs everywhere in our daily lives. Following are some examples of APIs that will help you understand how APIs play their role in our day-to-day lives.
Have you ever wondered how you get the latest weather information on your devices? You guessed it, APIs. Your devices use APIs to get the latest weather information. This data is provided by specialized weather APIs that provide detailed data about temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, air pollution, and much more.
Online maps and navigation like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Bing Maps provide detailed and custom location data to millions of devices and applications. To achieve this, they use APIs to provide data to all the different platforms and devices.
Let's say we want to implement a location-related feature in our application. We can imagine it won't be easy to do it by scratch, and it will never be able to match the database of something like Google Maps. Instead, you can use Maps-related APIs and efficiently add any location-related feature to your application.
Whether it is e-commerce or any other platform that involves digital payments, we have seen payment options like PayPal, Stripe, etc. These payment services provide APIs that you can integrate into your e-commerce applications. Thanks to these APIs, you can set up a payment gateway in your applications, and the API will do all the payment processing.
We have seen these options on the login pages of many applications. For example, you can sign in to an application using your Google account. Here is how it works. The likes of Google, Apple, and Twitter provide APIs that connect you to their authentication servers. So when a user logs in, the API sends a request to the authentication server, and the server verifies the user. In only 10 minutes, you can add these APIs to your applications and provide a seamless sign-in experience.
Many applications use SMS-based verification to implement two-factor authentication. Handling all this is not an easy feat. This is where APIs like Twillio and Telesign come in. They allow you to implement SMS verification, and you don't have to worry about the details.
These examples presented a glimpse of the capabilities of APIs. We leave the rest to your imagination. However, if you are convinced of the power of APIs, you can start using them today.