Benefits of Integrating APIs in Mobile App Development
Mobile application development is the process of building software for portable, wireless devices like smartphones and other handheld gadgets. This process entails building installable software packages (code, binaries, assets, etc.), setting up backend services like data access through an API, and testing the application on target devices.
New mobile devices with the latest technology are being launched every day. To support this revolution; mobile application development companies are playing a major role by building powerful apps fueled with the latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), IoT (Internet of Things), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and many more.
The integration of APIs is essential to the mobile app evolution and provides app developers with a much-needed respite from writing codes from scratch. The benefits of integrating APIs in app development can speed up innovation, shorten codebases, and provide a wide range of additional efficiency.
In this article, we will go through what APIs are, how using APIs can benefit modern app development, along with their challenges and solutions.
What is an API?
Application Programming Interface, or API, is a software connection that enables communication between two applications using certain protocols and definitions. You utilize an API every time you use a mobile app like Facebook, check the weather, or send an instant message. Essentially, an API is a messenger that receives, translates, and sends back answers to queries.
APIs help mobile app developers to build modern, innovative, and smart applications that can suffice the evolving needs of users these days. They make it possible for programmers to build applications swiftly that consist of top-performing features. While concealing most of the complexity required to communicate two pieces of software, a good API offers a clear definition of how two pieces of software should interact.
Software development and innovation are greatly simplified by application programming interfaces (APIs), which enable programs to exchange data and perform activities rapidly and reliably. APIs spur innovation by allowing more developers to create products based on current data and functionalities. A latest survey report indicates that 56% of developers believe that APIs can create better digital solutions.
An effective API allows app developers to build user-friendly and versatile applications capable of catering to a variety of use cases and delivering all the necessary functionality users need. For modern products and business suites, APIs serve as the cornerstone.
APIs have advanced into one of the most important technological advancements in recent history, from the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud to the Facebook developer ecosystem. Some of the most disruptive businesses in the world have embraced APIs, which have transformed from a specialized solution to one of the most important technological developments.
Let us have a look at how APIs actually work.
How do APIs Work?
APIs are collections of definitions and protocols (in the form of codes) that enable communication and interaction between different software components of multiple devices with the help of a limited number of instructions. APIs serve as messengers, sending messages from one program to another and returning a response instantly.
APIs exchange information using a set of rules that specify how machines, programs, and computers can talk to one another. The API functions as a middleman between any two machines that need to communicate with each other for a certain task.
For instance, when you login into Facebook on your phone, you are letting the Facebook program know that you want access to your account. Your Facebook account and login information are retrieved by the mobile application through an API request. The data would then be returned to the mobile app by Facebook after being accessed from one of its servers. These types of APIs, known as web APIs, are the most common and limited just to the web.
APIs are made up of two interrelated components. The first is a protocol that describes how data is transferred between apps by requesting processing and receiving the necessary data in return. The other is a software interface designed to meet those criteria and made available for use in some manner.
Below is a step-by-step explanation of how an API operates:
- An information request—often referred to as an API call—is initiated by a client program.
- When the API receives a valid request, it calls the external software or web server.
- The server sends the required data as a response to the API.
- Through the API, the data is sent to the client app.
Today, there are a variety of APIs available - some for operating systems and others for websites. Let us take a closer look at the types of APIs developers work with.
Types of APIs
1. Open APIs or Public APIs
Open APIs, often known as public APIs or external APIs, are accessible by any user. Open APIs, thus, frequently have limited bandwidth and generally have weak authentication and authorization controls. While some open APIs are free to use, others have subscription fees that are frequently structured based on the volume of API queries.
Third parties can easily leverage the data provided by the open API due to its lack of constraints and ease of deployment. The APIs offered by NASA are an illustration of open APIs. NASA grants you access to many open APIs when you just register for an API key. Everything from Earth observation photographs to data about the weather on Mars are made available through NASA's open APIs.
2. Partner APIs
Partner APIs are distributed externally but only to parties with a business connection to the provider of the API. Since only clients with formal licenses are allowed access, partner API security procedures are typically more stringent than those for public APIs.
Some companies choose partner APIs since they desire more control over who may access their sources and more input into how those sources are used. As an example, Pinterest implemented a submission-based strategy to give partners access to new data services via its API, where partners were needed to submit a request outlining their intended use of the API before being given access.
3. Composite APIs
Developers can combine calls or requests and receive a single, unified response from many servers by using composite APIs, which integrate multiple APIs. A composite API might be used if you require information from various apps or data sources. A composite API can be used to initiate an automatic series of requests and responses that do not require your intervention.
When you anticipate numerous calls to several API endpoints, these APIs are helpful for minimizing server load and network traffic. Less calls are placed, which decreases the amount of time it takes for servers to process them and the volume of network requests.
Because of this, composite APIs are incredibly useful for microservices. Applications based on microservices frequently need to integrate data from various sources. Using composite APIs that do this results in more efficient apps.
4. Internal APIs
Internal APIs, sometimes known as private APIs, are not designed for usage by third parties, in contrast to partner APIs and open APIs. Internal APIs are designed to speed up data transfers between teams and systems and are only made available for use within a corporation. These APIs are only accessible to internal developers within the company.
A corporation with two applications for selling products is a simple example of an internal API use case. One application enables clients to make direct purchases, while the other enables sales staff to handle transactions. The inventory must be available to both applications. The organization could allow separate access to the inventory database for both programs. But doing so would probably result in tougher and irregular upkeep.
The company thus instead uses an internal API to manage inventory. Applications used by sales employees and customer-facing applications can both browse and update inventory using this API. As long as each abides by the API's guidelines, updates to each application can be done independently.
All these APIs utilize protocols and architectures - the rules, constraints, and structures that govern their operation. Below are the two most popular API protocols and architectures and their differences.
What are RESTful APIs and SOAP APIs?
REST and SOAP are API protocols and architectures that define the rules for API calls - they specify accepted data types and commands.
RESTful, often known as REST (representational state transfer), is an architectural framework for application programming interfaces. HTTP requests are used by a RESTful API to obtain and utilize data.
The RESTful API structure is more frequently used when creating APIs for mobile apps since it uses less bandwidth, making it more Internet efficient. Additionally, REST offers quicker processing.
SOAP is an alternative to RESTful APIs. SOAP stands for simple object access protocol. In order to communicate, SOAP APIs only use XML, which is larger, slower, and uses more bandwidth.
But when it comes to large, distributed enterprise settings, SOAP offers several advantages over REST. As compared to REST, SOAP has a steeper learning curve and demands the usage of more expensive technologies. Thus, RESTful APIs are the most used for mobile application development.
Integrating APIs is essential to innovative mobile app development but it comes with its own set of challenges. 97% of companies face several difficulties while implementing successful API strategies. Below are some most common barriers to API Integration and their possible solutions.
Challenges of Integrating APIs and How to Overcome Them
Integrating multiple systems can become difficult if they differ in terms of technical capabilities and configuration. Certain systems may require more time to connect than others, depending on how well-suited their technologies are to one another.
The difficulties of simultaneously connecting numerous systems can be reduced by carefully planning API rollout. Concentrate on the critical systems that will benefit the most. This will aid in determining the ideal balance between retaining legacy systems and integrating API.
A simple collection of API endpoints can be easily managed by hand. But manually coordinating all of these moving parts does not work when you deploy APIs on a wide scale and have dozens of API endpoints served by dozens of API services.
API Gateways are a type of software that can help with this task. Between application servers and reverse proxies, these crucial points offer specialized functionality covering several important aspects that impact the API lifecycle.
Data breaches have been increasing since 2016, with 52 million data breaches observed by internet users globally in just the second quarter of 2022. Because API technology depends on web-based applications, businesses that are not properly safeguarded are vulnerable to breaches.
Lookout for Shadow APIs - they are outside the normal IT governance management and security processes. They are frequently undocumented, which exposes enterprises to significant security and governance concerns since teams lack visibility into how data and apps may be accessed by outside parties.
One approach to stop data breaches is by bringing in a security system or team of professional mobile app developers early on in the integration process. As your business starts to scale its API operations, security must remain a top priority. When necessary, security protocols should be evaluated and updated regularly. API keys can be utilized to identify and authenticate an application or user and add a layer of security to the application.
Documenting an API is an important part of ensuring that your API is completely adopted. It makes sense to simplify developers’ tasks by delivering first-rate documentation that is up to date with the current source. A developer portal can be made available to accomplish this. Developer portals are designed to offer an accessible layout for your API endpoints, community resources, terms of usage, and preferably a live chat.
APIs are the backbone of a mobile app strategy. To effectively put the enormous volumes of data that a company produces into a mobile-friendly architecture, mobile APIs are required. Although APIs are often used, the majority of businesses have not yet fully tapped into their potential as they fear the above-mentioned challenges. However, to make the most out of API integrations, you can take help from experts in delivering exceptional mobile app development services in Delhi and reap the below-mentioned benefits.
Benefits of Integrating APIs in Mobile Applications
#1 Better Features With Less Coding
The use of mobile app APIs enhances the app with extra features, like detecting location, sharing files, collecting payments, booking flight tickets, etc., eliminating the need to spend time coding each one from scratch. For example, you don't require code for collecting payments, integrating your app with different payment gateways can help you accomplish your objective. Visual app development platform like Backendless, can help create mobile/web apps with versatile integrations using a "no code" mechanism.
#2 Amplifies Creativity
Most application designers strive to decrease the amount of functionality and components because of time restrictions. Innovation typically takes a back seat as a result of these facts. The app's creative potential is increased by the use of APIs, which enable features that would be challenging to configure otherwise. Developers can make use of several APIs, with each one of them covering a different set of capabilities.
Adaptable application engineers, for example, can leverage the YouTube API to incorporate web-based video into their framework without having to develop their own components. The application's overall originality is substantially enhanced by these small nuances. You can get assistance from a variety of mobile application development companies in India to handle these issues as well.
3. Easy to Integrate Into Code
Due to a predetermined standard, APIs are much simpler for developers to incorporate into their code, which makes them quicker and more effective to use. Overall, it's a more user-friendly system to incorporate into your business and any technology you're working on, even though you'll have to spend a little more time reading documentation and searching for certain tasks. For instance, any computer engineer will be aware of how challenging working with CMS packages can be, but APIs offer a far simpler option.
4. Deliver Better Value to Customers
The fact that API development has emerged as the most inventive method for unlocking the value of business data is one of the key reasons it has become the buzzword of today's business environment. Let us take the example of a shipping firm that develops a private API containing a history of the rights of its clients, including their personal data and purchasing patterns.
With all of the required information offered by API developers, the company can provide better, more personalized customer care and see customer satisfaction levels increase to new heights. It can thus set more accurate sales goals for its team and promptly accomplish the corporate objectives.
5. Fosters Innovation
According to a Salesforce survey, the Covid-19 epidemic has caused 88% of customers to demand businesses to quicken their digital initiatives. And APIs are a fantastic way to experiment with technology if you're seeking fresh approaches. Developers can use APIs to access a variety of technologies when building out a new service.
There are various ways that APIs can promote innovation, but one of the most crucial methods is by giving programmers a way to quickly access information and features from other apps, which can result in vast enhancements and new functionalities.
6. Automation and Reusability
Projects created with APIs have a high degree of reuse and can be used repeatedly as building blocks. Additionally, APIs are very scalable, which helps to speed up the development process. Because API makes the mechanism of communication between services and applications simpler, it also makes automation possible. Routine manual processes are eliminated with automation. APIs are essential in shortening the time it takes to design a product since they eliminate the arduous procedure.
7. Reduced Development Time
The biggest benefit of adopting APIs is the substantial reduction in overall development time that results from synchronizing them across various development phases. There are a lot of APIs available that let mobile applications connect with outside professional businesses to address different issues.
API integrations streamline and speed up the development process for application designers as well as for end users. If everything else is equal, individuals can utilize their previously saved Google or Facebook sign-in credentials to verify themselves instead of having to continually embed their sign-in information.
The ability of APIs to reduce expenses is one of the major advantages for businesses. The majority of the time, developing an app from scratch is not cost-effective because it requires investing substantial development costs. By utilizing APIs, developers can obtain the majority of the software features they require to construct apps without having to start from scratch. Saving time, money, and effort allows the development team to concentrate on other priorities like learning new technologies and techniques.
Now that you know about the benefits, below are some use cases on how APIs fit into mobile application development.
Integrating APIs in Mobile App Development: Examples and Use Cases
Users frequently utilize apps that integrate APIs without even being aware that the app is sharing data with the API. A program that uses maps will frequently use Google Maps API to store a large database of information and communicate that information to the user.
By sharing the user's position with the Google Maps API, a B2B platform helping businesses to find their technology partner will list mobile app development companies in Bangalore to all its users located in Bangalore. The fact that the app utilizes the Google Maps API to find the closest restaurant would go unnoticed by the user because it takes place in the background.
However, when using some apps like Apple Pay or PayPal, the user must grant permission for the app to exchange sensitive data with those APIs in order to complete the transaction, making the API interface more visible. Even if the API link is clear, it is frequently secure, straightforward, and convenient for the user, improving the app experience.
Some API use cases include:
- Instead of developing its own communication, payment, or mapping services, Uber made use of the most effective ones already available and connected them all through APIs.
- The integration of chatbots into messaging applications like Slack.
- NASA provides satellite data and photos through an API.
- The New York Times provides an API that allows you to search their database.
Below is a list of the 10 most popular mobile application APIs that are used every day and can be integrated into your mobile application.
10 Most Useful APIs That Can Be Integrated Into Mobile Apps
1. Google Maps API
Google Maps appears to be the most popular free Google API for both Android and iOS, with millions of apps utilizing it. Users of Maps can find restaurants, hotels, malls, and other facilities.
2. Google Analytics API
This API can be used to personalize the data for the analytics of your mobile application. It enables you to set various campaigns for your apps according to target keywords and demographics.
3. Weather API
A weather API will enable your app to display current weather conditions for any location on the planet. It is very beneficial for booking apps, agriculture, energy and utility, and travel apps.
4. Currency Converter API
Currency Converter API is a free online service that converts one currency to another. It is quite simple to utilize the REST API interface to access global data in JSON format.
5. Facebook API
This API allows mobile apps to broadcast activities, achievements, and other information to Facebook's news feed and profile pages. It can be used to simplify sign-in procedures and add social context to mobile apps.
6. Twitter API
This API allows users to post to Twitter straight from another mobile app, log in, and create accounts on mobile apps and websites.
7. Gmail API
This cross-platform, RESTful API can be used by people to send or receive emails over your mobile applications. Through the Gmail API, users can also share google doc links, presentations, sheets, images, and videos.
8. CloudConvert API
CloudConvert is an API that allows you to convert 200+ various audio, video, document, ebook, image, and other formats without installing any software. It's a safe and secure file conversion service on the cloud.
9. YouTube Data API
With the help of the YouTube API, developers can easily integrate YouTube's robust online services into their mobile applications. It can be used to publish videos, manage playlists, manage subscriptions, update channel settings, and much more.
10. Twilio API
Twilio API offers numerous REST APIs for sending text messages, initiating phone calls, looking up phone numbers, managing accounts, and much more. Whether you interact with them directly over HTTP or through the assistance libraries Twilio provides for a variety of programming languages, you'll operate with each of them in a manner that is broadly identical.
So, now that you know about the benefits of integrating APIs in mobile app development and the types of APIs you can implement to make your business apps smarter, let us have a look at some essential points to leverage the power of these APIs for the development of flawless mobile applications.
Factors to Consider While Integrating APIs in Mobile Apps
Take security into consideration right from the outset of your API approach. Make sure to uphold tight criteria, such as only exposing interfaces when necessary, collecting and sharing only vital data, and granting access to the API's primary users and systems. Include API Protection solution at every phase to avoid losses or abuses.
- To unlock the required data, cloud, and core resources, identify and map the most crucial API journeys, and then make a note of the complementing APIs. In order for the business to be able to work in an agile manner, you also need to find APIs that will benefit it.
- The goals of a company, which are determined by its customers and ecosystem partners, should be harmonized with its API strategy. Begin developing your API strategy from the outside in. You shouldn't create APIs unless you are certain that you actually need them.
- Understanding the resource availability and performance that APIs will demand is important because IT and business infrastructure ultimately decide how APIs function.
- Utilizing third-party APIs is a wise move that offers businesses a great deal of convenience. However, businesses should continue developing new features to maintain their competitiveness.
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about how bots are going to replace APIs. Thus, below is a brief overview of the basic differences between an API and a bot and how they can be used for your mobile application.
Are APIs Better Than Bots? What are the Differences?
API (Application Program Interface) enables two applications to connect with each other by applying specific protocols and definitions, whereas a bot is a computer application that is used to automate tasks and simulate human actions.
For example, you might have used API integrations when a travel portal fetches flight information from different airlines and helps you choose the cheapest option from a single platform. Whereas the best example of bots these days being highly used is a chatbot which can automate conversations on the website with the visitors without any instructions.
APIs and bots both bring automation to the applications having their own advantages and disadvantages. APIs can be a better option if you are looking to add high-end security to your application. At the same time, bots can be implemented quicker than APIs and thus prove to be a cost-effective option.
Selecting the best automation technology is vital to achieve predetermined business goals. To get the best out of both mechanisms; the right way would be to follow a hybrid approach involving API integration and bots.
The Bottom Line
In addition to offering innovative solutions for businesses seeking to leverage their network, APIs exist to help firms unleash their full potential. APIs are critical to the functioning and effectiveness of mobile apps. They facilitate elements of the development process and aid in helping developers create engaging digital experiences for their customers. Whether it's the networking practices you employ today or the ground-breaking discoveries of the future, APIs have you covered!
After realizing that APIs are necessary for your business app or mobile game, you can investigate the huge resources of APIs that are accessible to suit your app's needs. An app development firm in India may assist you in a variety of ways, and this is just one of them. Also, if you are looking for region-specific mobile app development services, you can go through the list of 500+ reputed mobile app development companies in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Delhi intricately curated by GoodFirms’ experts and research analysts.
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