An application program interface (API) is a set of protocols, tools, and routines that allows data and content to be shared between applications. For example, while using WhatsApp, you can share your location due to Google Maps integration.


1. Becoming Familiar with API Access

2. Real-Life Applications Related to API Access

3. Access Applications Using API Keys

4. Looking to Build Applications Faster?

The most common APIs are known as REST APIs, which are utilized by Facebook, Google, and Twitter. If you are designing your own app, you’ll need to understand how APIs communicate — which will vary depending on the type. In addition to REST APIs, you may also want to familiarize yourself with SOAP, JavaScript, and XML-RCP.

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Depending on your goals, you may need to access the functions of Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, or a wide range of other web services. Here’s what you need to know about API access so that you can take your

Becoming Familiar with API Access

As stated by Harvard Business Review, in today’s world, a firm without APIs is essentially like the internet without the World Wide Web. It is APIs that are allowing companies to grow at such significant rates by sharing services with other external firms. Salesforce, for example, generates 50% of its revenue through APIs.

APIs are “windows to new ecosystems” — but access is required in order for applications to work together. Google Maps was never considered to be a core asset until another third-party application allowed access to real estate locations on a map. This caused the popularity of Google Maps to exponentially increase. This resulted in Google expanding API-based access to several other products.

APIs benefit both end-users and third-party developers, as they do all the “heavy lifting” in the background. For example, by allowing third-party (or internal) developers to access APIs, they can focus on developing new solutions instead of repeating work that has already been done.

Once again, the Google Maps API allowed developers at OpenTable to save time and resources. By using this API, OpenTable developers did not need to draw up their own map or provide real-time map data. Their version would also likely not be as detailed as reliable as Google’s solution.

Real-Life Applications Related to API Access

Whether a user is using social networks, shopping online, or booking a flight, an API delivers a user response to a system before sending that response back to the user. For example, when you add a product to your cart online, it is an API that communicates with the website, telling the site that a product was added. In turn, your cart is updated with that product.

Another example is booking a flight. In order to select and book a flight, you need to interact with an airline’s database. This will help you determine which dates are available, what the cost of flights are on those dates, flight times, and other key pieces of information.

Whether you are booking from an online travel service or aim to access information from your mobile phone, the application in-use will need to communicate with the airline’s APIs. This is what gives you access to the data you require. This involves such measures as API gateways, which ensure that API calls are processed in an appropriate manner.

In business, API access allows companies to cut costs and improve overall efficiency. Another prime example is the partnership between banks, retailers, and fintechs. By developing APIs that help customers integrate data into investment and bookkeeping software, applications can access the user’s account information.

In summary, an application will be able to access system data when:

  • API settings for a system are enabled
  • An application requests access from the system owner
  • The system owner grants access to the application

Access Applications Using API Keys

An API key is a unique identifier that is used to authenticate a request. This key is made up of a string of numbers and letters which identify the client or application that is making the request. This key is used to either grant or deny access based on permission settings.

This method does have advantages. For example, by restricting access to only select keys, a company can control the number of requests made to its API, ensuring that only a select group can access its server. However, it is not as secure as authentication tokens.

Looking to Build Applications Faster?

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Meta description: API access is required in order for two or more applications can work together. This process allows developers to save time while increasing the efficiency and productivity of their application.