In recent years, the importance of APIs has come to light as they are a simple and efficient way to interact with external data and services. Mobile APIs provide developers more flexibility when it comes to creating apps and improving compatibility and to better understand mobile architecture logic. They are also crucial in programming applications that have to deliver high-quality user experience in limited bandwidth situations. However, if you’re new to mobile development, you may be wondering how mobile APIs fit into the broader picture of application development on a variety of platforms.
This blog will explain what they are and how they’re critical to your mobile app success. Before we jump into this, it’s important that you know what an API is.
What is an API for Mobile Apps?
An application program interface, or API, is a set of tools and protocols used for building mobile applications. It’s a feature that allows developers to extend other programs’ capabilities by adding in new features and save time and resources by cutting out the need to create new building blocks of code. APIs have a long history, and they’ve been instrumental in the development of many technologies we use today. For example, if you’re building a mobile app for ordering and paying for takeout food at a restaurant, you might want to use your restaurant’s API to pull their menu and location information, details about past orders, and payment history data so that customers can easily place an order (perhaps using geolocation).
Further, enterprises across the globe have been turning to APIs to find a way to access the massive amounts of data they have stored on servers and databases. Some APIs make it possible for one application to do things that would otherwise take multiple applications, which means less programming and more value for the customer.
Mobile Apps and APIs
APIs may be the most misunderstood part of Mobile App Development. Mobile application developers often integrate third-party APIs into their apps to create cross-platform functionality that saves development time and resources. Because APIs make use of prebuilt code they essentially eliminate the need to create your own API if you are just getting started.
The excitement on the front end of an app can often overshadow what is happening in the back end. The real value of an app is determined by what it offers to its users and what that users can do with it. And companies are increasingly turning to application programming interfaces (APIs) as the primary mechanism for delivering data and applications.
How to Manage Mobile APIs?
You see APIs are gaining in popularity, with more and more companies using them to reach new audiences. But, it’s not always as easy as it seems. How do you actually manage these APIs? You can use these practical tips when managing mobile APIs in your business.
Your application can tell you a lot about your users if you know where to look. From analytics (easily embeddable widgets) to pre-built reporting tools, most applications have their own set of APIs that developers have access to.
In this particular instance, it’s even more important to understand your users because you don’t want them running you out of business. Your API is just that — it’s an interface. It’s a connection point where your application meets that of your users. Managing a great API is critical to your success. Learning from users’ interaction patterns can help you iterate on your app, make changes, and offer new features that will keep them coming back for more.
Doubling down on analytics is one of the key ways to improve your mobile conversion rate. Having the right data to make smart decisions is what’s going to take your business to the next level.
Security is a primary concern when building mobile applications and it is important to think about protecting your data at every layer of the stack. Password hashing is a critical step, but you also should make sure that your database cannot be compromised, encrypt any sensitive information you store, and limit access at the server level.
APIs have become a critical component of digital business strategy, especially for mobile commerce. It is one of your most powerful tools to acquire new customers. A clear API strategy means you’ll better monetize your digital commerce presence. However, if not properly managed, APIs will become the most problematic component for your business. A scalable API, on the other hand, will keep your business growing.
Mobile APIs: Examples and Use Cases
Some might wonder what an API has to do with enterprise apps. The answer is pretty simple: everything. From business solutions to customer service, every app needs security and APIs have become the backbone of many enterprise apps. APIs, or application programming interfaces allow developers to build mobile apps with more flexibility, security and usability. All in all, they help with integration and increase your business value.
Moreover, as APIs are designed to be as generic as possible they make finding, using and sharing data quite simple. Consumers and producers can take advantage of them without them having to be worried about the rest of the technology stack involved.
Consumer Mobile Apps in particular need to pull together a lot of different data sources to function properly along with providing excellent user experience. That’s what API-driven development promises: to connect apps using a common protocol and interface.
For example, when Uber released its mobile app, it provided a way to connect riders and drivers through a ride request — which can be served entirely within the app. The data isn’t just in one location; multiple apps are “connected” to provide the use of the service.
Most modern manufacturers have long moved on from proprietary enterprise resource planning (ERP) and CRM systems to mobile business apps. They are now using APIs to bring together functionality from a lot of different apps and services. An API allows manufacturers to focus on internal operations while allowing their distributors to continue focusing on customer acquisition and fulfillment. On the other hand, it benefits customers by providing a streamlined method of purchasing from multiple retailers using any device.