Every day, dozens of developer tools get released online. Some new developers opt for doing all their work manually, while others choose to explore new tools. If you fall into the second category, then you need to start using APIs. The acronym stands for
Application Programming Interface. In essence, it’s a programing language that lets one service – let’s say Google Maps for instance – communicate with another – for example, AccuWeather.
Why waste a few days working, when you can use an API to solve your problem almost immediately? And it’s no wonder that interest in providing APIs is still pretty high. As a matter of fact, according to ProgrammableWeb research, as of January of 2018, there are more than 19,000 public APIs available.
In order to help you save even more time, we’ve put together a short list of essentials APIs. So instead of spending months exploring different APIs, you can simply focus on these five first.
1. IBM Watson
Most people know the story of IBM Watson winning Jeopardy a few years back. However, what most people are not aware of is that the AI service is also available through API. The API gives developers access to hours and hours of different research through RESTful calls. Nearly three years ago, IBM acquired Alchemy API in an effort to extend the suite of intelligent calculations. Watson API’s toolset now allows you to determine different keywords in blocks text, recognize objects in photos, and even extract relations from basically any text.
So if you feel like the app you’re working could benefit from some AI functionalities, you shouldn’t try to build Natural Language Processing – or any other technology – all on your own. That would simply take too long. You should focus on what your app could do with that technology instead.
Here we have an “all-in- one” recognition tool, which seems to be doing quite well so far. Amazon Rekognition API features facial, object, and even sentiment recognition, driven by Amazon’s deep learning AI technology. The API allows developers to use face-recognition technology that can verify someone’s identity by comparing their face to reference photos. It can also be used to search images for specific landmarks and entities and analyze someone’s emotions through security camera footage. These features allow you to focus on aspects of your app that make it distinctive instead of wasting precious months designing your own image recognition software.
And now, time for something new and exciting. Two years ago, Google released this API to help developers react to information such as users’ actions and location and exciting new ways. Coupled with APIS like Snapshot, Google Awareness can do things like for example, alert users when they are near restaurants they are interested in.
The possibilities are practically endless, and this technology could potentially change the way we use smartphone apps. Furthermore, it could also enable the new generation of developers to create user-experiences different than anything seen before. If used properly, Google Awareness could deliver a customized user-experience, before the user even asks for it. You have to admit – this an exciting opportunity – so you should certainly try to take advantage of it.
4. Slack API
Collaboration within the organization is crucial to its success. With so many people opting to work from the comfort of their home, the need for virtual collaboration tools increased significantly in recent years. That’s the main reason behind Slack’s popularity. Slack is possibly the most popular file-sharing and company chat tool out there. But no matter what exact tool is a center of collaboration in your organization, you have to be able to write code against it. Even though Slack has some integrations like Travis and GitHub, it also provides API for your own apps.
This API enables you to attend virtual meetings in real time, access files, and channel history, and program bots to post certain messages for you. It’s also possible to include build and deploy workflow into the tool and make sure that every member of your team is on the same page.
5. Stripe API
Lastly, if you have experience with collecting payments, or you know someone that does, you probably know that nothing beats Stripe. In recent years, the team behind Stripe has clearly shown that interactive, user-friendly documentation will lead to incredible adaptation levels. While there are other options out there – Braintree instantly comes to mind – Stripe is still the most widely used. What’s more, it will take you less than a day to learn Stripe’s API. Fundamentally, this API has a rather simple use case: taking payments from consumers. However, Stripe API actually opens up more possibilities. Stripe’s webhooks, for example, can allow you to automate customer onboarding and communications.
Is This a Definitive List?
We should note that this is not a complete list of APIs. There are dozens of other APIs that can help you supercharge your abilities. Some of them will help you take care of repetitive problems, free up your time, and focus on jobs only you can perform. Even if you’re an API designer, there are certain tools and platforms that can help you streamline your workflow. For instance, if you need something that will cover the entire pre-production of your API project, you have tools like Stoplight. This tool will take the hassle out of your strategy.
While you probably won’t use all of these tools right away, you should still take some time to familiarize yourself with them. That way, you’ll be completely ready to use them if one of your next projects requires one of them. The ability to utilize these APIs in your own apps can be a massive factor in creating apps that people
actually want to use.