What is an API? Know more about APIs

You may have heard the term API many times. And if you are a developer, I am sure you have used one or the other API in your projects.

Many times, it becomes hard for a common person to understand what an API actually is. Of course, you will get many definitions in various technical sites, but let us understand what is an API in a simple language.

Definition of an API

API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is essentially an intermediary which facilitates two software programs or applications to communicate to each other.

API takes the request from the software that request data and delivers the response after fetching it from the software that facilitates the data. The API returns the data in various formats, the most popular format is JSON format. Softwares interact with the APIs through API endpoints.

A real life Analogy

Suppose you want to deposit money in your bank account. You will not go to the bank, deposit your money and update the banking system all by yourself. You are not allowed to do so. What you will do is deposit your money to a bank’s employee who is authorised to handle the banking systems.

The employee will take the money, update the balance in the banking system, and give you the confirmation in the form of a receipt.

In the above example, You are a program that sends a request, the employee is the API which takes your request, fetches and updates the system (the banking system) and returns the response (confirmation/receipt) back to you. That is how an API works.

Real life use cases of APIs

When you use a food ordering app or a cab booking app, you can see a map with details of your trip. Here the app uses a Map API like Google Maps API to display map data in the app.

When you book a plane ticket from an aggregator website, the website implements the airline’s API to show you flight details like flight availability, departure and arrival times, etc.

When you view the weather from a weather app, the app implements an API from meteorological organisations to show you weather information.

APIs for business

Many companies get profits for letting others use their APIs in exchange for a fee. Thus, APIs have become a great source of revenue for many big companies.

Learn More about Google Maps API, a very popular API implemented in many applications today.

Also Read:Getting Started With Android Development

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