Mobile app development has recently undergone a profound change. It is impossible to imagine our everyday life without mobile apps that are no longer just a software package with limited functionality. Nowadays, the mobile app is a complex and fast-performing solution responding to users’ social preferences, geo-location, and usage history. Such advancement is possible due to the use of mobile app APIs. In this article, we are going to discuss what API for mobile apps is and the importance of its use in application development.
What Is a Mobile App API? Do Mobile Apps Use APIs?
API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface, and its concept stands for various software libraries, operating and web-based systems that are used for building applications.
According to the article by Peter Munsch MBA (Fordham University), the publicly available Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been progressing exponentially since they were first chronicled in 2005. The ProgrammableWeb has tracked API growth since 2005, starting with a count of 105. They noted the API development from simple curiosity to a major trend, where APIs provide core service functionality for many businesses.
Simply put, APIs are the set of requirements that define the way mobile apps receive and share the data with other apps or services. In other words, APIs are the routes of information shift from one app to another app or service. As a two-way process, APIs help to accept and return the information according to the app needs. For example, mobile app APIs are intended to receive data about the user’s location from Google Maps or to send the in-app data the user wants to share in his social media account.
As stated by RedHat, APIs let you open up access to your resources while maintaining security and control. How and to whom you open this access is up to you. Mobile app API security is all about good API management, which includes the use of an API gateway. Connecting to APIs, and creating applications that consume the data or functionality exposed by APIs, can be done with a distributed integration platform that connects everything – including legacy systems, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
There are three approaches to API release policies:
|The API is only for internal usage. This gives companies the most control over their API.||The API is shared with specific business partners. This can provide additional revenue streams without compromising quality.||The API is available to everyone. This allows third parties to develop apps that interact with your API and can be a source for innovation.|
Benefits of Using Mobile App APIs in App Development
As mentioned on LinkedIn, forty-nine percent of CIOs reported undergoing a business model change, according to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda report that surveyed 3,102 CIOs worldwide. According to Google Cloud Blog, digital transformation has been among enterprises’ top business imperatives for years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased this urgency even more. Thus, referring to the research, nearly three in four organizations continued their digital transformation investments. Two-thirds of those companies are increasing investments or completely evolving their strategies to become digital-first companies.
The market conditions are changing and that change is driven by consumer activities in the digital world. Therefore, with the development of the digital world and digital business model in particular, the benefits of using mobile app APIs are indisputable:
1. Faster Time to Market
The first and one of the main benefits is the fact that using APIs reduces the need to code the entire app to make all the necessary features work. The process goes faster and more convenient – for instance, if your enterprise app or a mobile game presupposes saving a current session so that it can be retrieved any time later, mobile app developers may easily connect the app to the Google Drive API or DropBox API. Also, using PayPal API can allow your enterprise app or mobile game to easily handle payment transactions through a secure and known source.
2. More Functions with Less Coding
The use of mobile app APIs complements the app with additional functions and there is no need to waste time on coding all of them from scratch. Just with a couple of APIs, your app can let you send the shared files to the storage, invite your friends to events and easily navigate to their location using the Google Maps we all know. In accordance with Backendless, with “no-code” tools, anyone can build a mobile or web app faster than ever before.
3. Social Engagement
Social media sites are not just entertainment websites anymore; they have become an inevitable part of our lives. It is crucially important to connect APIs of popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc as it will allow your users to share the content, post comments, leave reviews directly in your app. By leveraging this engagement you can enhance users’ retention and mobile app conversion. By engaging your users more in your app’s experience, you’ll increase user satisfaction and encourage better feedback and reviews.
4. Fast Sign-in
Another feature mobile app API enables – sign-in with a Google account or Facebook. It definitely deserves a special mention as the majority of the apps always ask users to register to maintain security and remain customized. For the users that are far from being tech-savvy, typing in the email address, creating another password, and confirming the registration can be a daunting experience. Thus, using Google or Facebook APIs supports a sign-in feature while enhancing the mobile app user experience.
Think about all the apps and websites a typical user will utilize in today’s fast-paced, highly immersed marketplace. Using mobile API for sign-in services also reduces the number of usernames and passwords your customer has to retain. With fewer sign-ins required, it is easy to enforce security and make certain that data is safe from hackers.
Mobile APIs: Examples and Use Cases
Many times users will be using an app that employs APIs without even realizing the app is sharing information with the API. An app that uses maps will commonly use Google Maps API for the vast database of information it contains and relate that information to the user.
For example, the user might want to go to a certain restaurant and by sharing their location with the Google Maps API, the restaurant can identify the closest one to the user and give them directions, reviews, menus and other information. The user won’t know the app used Google Maps API to determine the closest restaurant because it is happening behind the scenes.
Other times, the interface with the API is more noticeable, such as using Apple Pay API or PayPal, as these APIs will require the user to allow permission for the app to share sensitive information to complete the transaction. Even with the API link being evident, it is often safe, simple and convenient for the user, making the app experience more enjoyable.
Top Free APIs for Mobile App Development
Here are the 10 most useful mobile app APIs that can be used for custom mobile app development. These apps are completely free to use so you can start benefiting from them without increasing your mobile app budget.
- Google Maps API. Google Maps seems to be the most popular free Google API for both Android and iOS used in millions of apps. With the help of Maps the users can locate restaurants, hotels, malls etc.
- Gmail API. A RESTful Gmail API offers you secure access to their Gmail mailboxes and allows sending emails directly from the app.
- Google Drive API. The API makes it easy to integrate the Drive services into a mobile app, add, access, and share Google Drive files.
- Google Calendar API. This API is an excellent solution to create and modify calendar events.
- Facebook API. As mentioned before, Facebook API can be used for the easy sign-in procedure and adding social context to mobile apps.
- Google Analytics API. With this API, you can set up a customized tracking of a mobile app conversion and, thus, use the data for boosting your app marketing efforts.
- YouTube Data API. This API allows you to add the YouTube functionality to your app – uploading a video, managing playlists and updating settings.
- Foursquare API. Foursquare API will let users access a large database of locations and check-in in the venues they are visiting.
- Twitter API. Integration of Twitter RESTful APIs gives access to code Twitter features.
- Weather API. This API is really worth the attention. It will make your app display current weather for any location in the world. It is particularly useful for booking and travel apps.
Does Your Enterprise Need a Mobile API Strategy?
If your enterprise business has a mobile app, it’s time to get into the game because the chances are you could benefit from an API. Since APIs eliminate the need to program certain functions into your app by delivering them individually, your app can be completed much more quickly and for less development cost according to Forbes. However, when considering mobile app APIs, one should map out these costs to have a realistic view of your budget. Have you ever been wondering how much the development of an API would cost? As mentioned by DZone, API worth = Number of users/10,000 x (Number of dev hours x dev hourly cost), with the entire result divided by the number of competitors +1.
In other words, an API with 100,000 customers would have a value of about $83,000 (if we take into account that two developers that were working on it earn $50 an hour, spent 500 hours on the task and met five competitors):
$83,333 API value = ((100,000/10,000) x (1000 x 50))/5 +1
With the increase in cloud computing over the last decade, user information can be stored remotely and more easily accessed cross-platform. Mobile APIs can also offer basic functionality initially but allow your app to expand into more functions as needed. Many of the APIs mentioned above can easily help your enterprise app become more robust and essential to your target users. Thus, the benefits of mobile app API matter more than they pay for the initial development outlay.
Managing Mobile App APIs in Your Business
Different APIs can certainly serve your business needs in many ways. Once you have identified what the functions of your app will include, your goal should be to learn how to build relevant APIs to meet those needs. For most successful businesses, the two primary concerns are collecting and distributing content (social media, products or services) and protecting your subscribers’ information.
Content Distribution and Marketing
One essential API for any business in today’s mobile atmosphere is information and marketing. If your app doesn’t deliver the content your customer is looking for, you will lose business quickly. Social media allows well-developed apps to go viral with good reviews. Of course, bad reviews can ruin your business so it is vital to make sure your app is using functions as advertised and test the mobile app API beforehand.
The right API can also help drive users to the most useful information they might want. Depending on the data the API shares with your app, product suggestions and reviews can help your enterprise app. Your mobile game might benefit from allowing players to find others that they could enjoy sharing comments, pictures, or posts about their game experience.
Protecting Users’ Information
Information sharing has been a major concern for users for several years now and making your users feel their data is safe should be a primary concern if you want to be successful. Cyberattacks are on the rise and it is important to protect your users and yourself from them by using the best mobile app security practices.
A potential pitfall if you decide to use an API is knowing the risk of information leaks and unlawful sharing. One article by BBC News tells how a flaw discovered in the API of Airtel’s mobile app could allow hackers to access subscribers’ information with only their mobile number.
As you can see, finding the best APIs for your projects and the ones that will protect your customers and your business is essential to building a successful business in today’s marketplace.
Leverage APIs For Mobile Application Development With Swag Soft
Once you’ve realized APIs are essential to your enterprise app or mobile game, you can explore the vast resources of APIs that are available to meet your app’s requirements. This is just one of the many ways in which an apps development company in Singapore can help you.
As a leader in mobile app development in Singapore, Swagsoft can guide and work with you to provide your business with the best APIs that will meet the needs of your users. The creative teams at Swagsoft are experienced in creating an array of mobile app services, including the development of iOS and Android apps, Games, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and more.
Our goal is to ensure end-users have an enjoyable, safe, and seamless experience between our APIs and your enterprise app or mobile game.
Mobile app APIs are the future of mobile application development tapping into:
- app development ease and speed
- the functionality of an app
- improved usability
- improved user experience
- enhanced protection of user data and privacy
If you have an app idea, feel free to drop us an email at [email protected] and hear our suggestions about what APIs can enhance your application.