What Are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)?

Source: The Third-Party API Economy. How to Give Your Users Superpowers

This article is a part of my Best Reads of the Month section on my website www.mikegorlon.com. Each month I pick one or two articles or blog posts that I find on the internet which I thought were really insightful, interesting or moving. Then I share them with you. You can view the previous month’s articles by going to: https://www.mikegorlon.com/best-reads-of-the-month

December 2020: APIs All The Way Down

I’ve been very interested in APIs due to their growing importance as we continue to proceed through this current transition to a more digitalized economy.

You’ve probably interacted with many APIs in your daily life without even knowing it since they make up such a crucial part of the tech stack that is part of the apps we use on a daily basis.

API stands for application programming interface and it is really just a bunch of code that is wrapped up into an easy- to-use interface.

The best example I like to use when trying to explain what an API is by talking about Uber because Uber is really just a bunch of APIs working together.

The three main functions that Uber uses to carry out its ride-hailing service are text/call, maps/GPS and payments, and it is these functions that are all carried out by APIs that are part of Uber’s tech stack.

Those APIs are:

Twilio — Twilio’s API is what makes it possible for you to make a phone call or send a message on the Uber app.

Google Maps — Google’s APIs for its map are what allows you to track where the driver is located, what his path is to picking you up and then dropping you off.

Stripe — Stripe’s API is what is used to process payments.

These 3 APIs make up the bulk of Uber and are all carried out by APIs which have become a very important part of our lives.

It would take hundreds of millions of dollars and years of work for Uber to develop their own code to build a payments processor or a map or a way to send messages on their app so by using Twilio, Google and Stripe it saves them lots of money and time.

This allows them to build an app for ride-hailing much faster than if Twilio, Google and Stripe didn’t have these APIs to essentially allow Uber to “outsource” these basic functions to make their app work seamlessly.

APIs have allowed lots of new applications and software to be created which have all made a big difference in our lives in making it more convenient.

If you are more interested in learning about APIs, I highly suggest reading this article from Packy Mccormick who has become one of my favorite writers to read lately.

He does a great job going a lot more in detail on explaining APIs.

Here is the link: APIs All the Way Down — Not Boring by Packy McCormick

Accountant, part-time investor, reader, blogger. I use this platform to improve my thinking and writing. www.mikegorlon.com

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