An Application Programming Interface (API) is a computing interface that defines how different software interact with each other. It defines the rules of interacting: how to make calls, what data format is expected, and in what data format the response will be returned. It is a popular way for applications to communicate with each other.
These are some examples of an API:
- When you have a widget on your phone that shows stock tickers, that information is retrieved through an API.
- When your Sonos device plays music from Spotify, the song is retrieved via an API.
- When you logon to Goodreads, and you use Google or Facebook to log in, your personal information is retrieved through an API.
- When you search for a flight using a flight aggregator such as SkyScanner, the flight information is retrieved through multiple APIs.
APIs offer many benefits. An API allows other people and companies to extend on the existing functionalities of specific software, without exposing the whole application or your data.
It is safe to say that the modern internet is heavily dependent on APIs. Websites, applications, and devices need to communicate with each other properly. This resulted in a fair degree of standardization