If you’ve never heard of an Application Programming Interface, you’re missing out. It powers many of your favorite apps and services that you use every single day. From posting to Facebook, to calling customer service, to seeing who’s talking about what on Twitter, there’s an API for practically everything nowadays.
Put simply, an API is a way to interact with another product or service. Many people might equate it to knocking on your neighbor’s door to ask for information. Here’s what it might look like to ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar, if you were an API:
“Hey! How much sugar do you have?”
“I have 2 cups of sugar.”
“Can I have 1 cup?”
“Sure, here it is.”
Now, imagine all the data you interact with on a daily basis and the number of ways to record and utilize those interactions. Here’s a couple ways you can do it:
- Pull every Facebook post that involves your girlfriend, find all the pictures that you’re both tagged in, and put them in a slideshow to music; that’s one simple way to make use of an API.
- Pull every library of congress article.
- Vuurr recently combined APIs from various startups at Hollywood Hackday where we built TuneClash, the world’s music trivia game with integrated video chat.
That’s just a couple examples. The power of the API will really be unleashed as more and more data becomes available.
In 2012, Barack Obama announced that he’s signing an executive directive to ensure that every government agency has a public facing API, thus making the information available in an effort to increase transparency. The power of this information floating around is sure to change the way we look at government and information in the future.
Here’s a situation you might experience a couple of years from now:
You’re driving down the street and your phone gives directions to the car stereo via its API. While driving, your phone also talks to the “traffic lights’” API and calculates your car’s average speed and its distance to the next light. The API discovers you will reach a red light at the next intersection. So, in order to increase efficiency, the API tells you over the stereo, “You’ll be hitting a red light in 2.1 miles, if you slow down by 3 mph, you can time the next light to be green.”
The limits to what you can do for your business with APIs are only confined by what data is available and by your imagination. The programmers at Vuurr are API specialists and can help your company develop, document, and deploy your API.
Whether you’re turning traffic lights green, or just asking your neighbor how much sugar he has, we’ll help to make sure you’re passing the competition.