What is an Application Programming Interface and What is an API Key Used For?

It may not have been necessary to know what an API is a decade ago, especially if you are not a tech buff or an aspiring Mark Zuckerberg. That’s why it is mildly amusing how things have changed over the years.

Today, API seems to be a common buzzword on the lips of even non-tech folks. So don't be surprised if the term springs up on a date with your non-dev partner or at your next employee hangout at the office.

Knowing about APIs can do more than save you from a possibly embarrassing situation. APIs play a prominent role in your everyday internet usage and make your life more comfortable. So, what are APIs?

Application Programming Interface (API)

What is an API?

Application Programming Interface (API) is a bundle of programming instructions that have been designed to improve the interaction between software. 

The API acts as a messenger between software, transporting desired resources from one end to the other. Without the API, internet users will have to endure slower, less exciting, and less comfortable internet experiences.

There are several categories of APIs. They include;

Public APIs: These APIs are open for the use of the general public and have minimal to no restrictions.

Internal APIs: These APIs are owned and operated by organizations and are only accessible to members of the organization.

Partner APIs: These APIs are shared between two or more partner organizations or between an organization and its customers.

When you open a browser on your mobile device or computer and utilize an app or software or make a search request on a search engine, the API carries the information to the server. 

The API takes the information from the server and brings it back to you by displaying the page you had requested on your screen. Also, software developers use existing APIs to improve the quality of their products instead of building new ones from scratch.

Top 5 API Key Examples We Use Every Day

You must have already realized how integral APIs are to your everyday internet activity. 

Now, it’s time to get into some of the details. Most of the software you use on your smartphone use APIs. Here are five popular examples.

1. Weather APIs

Web developers use Weather APIs as a ready source of weather information for their products. 

With the widespread use of smartphones, attention has turned to the development of weather API for iOS & Android. Each operating system uses its API, so they are created differently for Android and iOS devices. 

Weather API delivers current weather information about any location in the world in the twinkle of an eye to mobile devices, and its connected apps are available at the Android and Apple app stores.

2. Google Maps API

A lot of software has integrated the Google Maps API to serve their users. The Google Maps API serves transportation apps such as Uber, which utilizes the navigation service to direct its drivers and beat traffic. 

A wide range of apps like gaming and crime-fighting apps like the Zombie Outbreak Simulator and the Street Violence app, respectively, integrate with Google Maps API for geographic information.

3. PayPal API

You can access your PayPal account to complete transactions on other websites such as eCommerce websites. The API travels to access the user’s account and provides access to make payments.

4. Facebook Login API

Some apps integrate with Facebook login APIs to verify users by confirming if they have existing accounts on Facebook. This software allows new users to sign up and log in through their Facebook accounts without accessing Facebook directly.

5. Yahoo Finance API

This API allows software users to access recent happenings in the finance world. With it, users can monitor the stock market, forex, and cryptocurrency markets and view their financial histories. 

Why Are APIs Helpful?

APIs won’t be as popular a term as it already is if it didn’t affect how we use the internet. APIs are helpful to businesses, software developers, and internet users. This includes everyone who has a smart device.

Internet users want to get the most of functionality and a seamless internet experience, especially in terms of interface and speed. APIs provide these luxuries. 

Being aware of these needs, software developers tend to link or integrate their products with APIs. Software to API integration also helps developers save the stress and time it will take to build their resources from scratch.

At the end of the chain, the huge demand for APIs prompts successful tech businesses to build APIs and get ahead of their competitors who may not have. Businesses also amass huge profits and recognition in the process.

Conclusion:

Even as a non-developer, it's odd and even risky to stay in the dark concerning APIs and the jobs they perform. 

APIs are rapidly growing in importance and popularity, featuring in our everyday use of the internet. This growth doesn’t look like it will wane any time soon, and for this reason, ignorance about APIs is certainly not bliss.

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TechGlobeX: What is an Application Programming Interface and What is an API Key Used For?
What is an Application Programming Interface and What is an API Key Used For?
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