7 Examples of APIs in Use Today

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API examples are littered throughout your everyday life, whether you know it or not. This is because APIs are the primary software infrastructure ensuring that distinct software can work in unison.

Before today, you may have not realized how important it is for software to work together or how often it’s really happening behind the scenes. If you are an experienced Back-End developer, you are certainly familiar with the foundational value of APIs. But if you are not we hope that you can learn a little better through these seven API examples, including:

  1. Twitter Bots
  2. Log-In Using XYZ
  3. Weather Snippers
  4. Pay with PayPal
  5. Google Maps
  6. Travel Booking
  7. E-Commerce

These API examples will deepen your understanding of the concept and its practical use in the software industry. Keep reading to learn more!

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What Is An API?

An application programming interface (API) is the medium by which different software interact. They foster connections between technologies to enhance user experience.

For someone who is not tech-savvy, think of an API as a waiter for the software world. Strangely enough, a waiter and an API have some parallels when it comes to their function.

To illustrate, a waiter takes orders from customers and brings those orders to the kitchen. After preparation, the waiter then brings the customers their food.

In this way, the waiter serves as a middleman of sorts, facilitating communication between the table they’re waiting on and the kitchen which prepares food.

Similarly, an API works as a facilitator connecting software platforms that would otherwise not be able to interact.

In practice, an API simply looks like a hefty block of code. But it empowers developers to build user-friendly software.

Smiling browser window icon with shining stars and a gold star to the side, depicting a positive user interface experience.
An API is a hefty block of code that empowers developers to build user-friendly software. 

What Are APIs Used For?

APIs are used to abstract the complexity of back-end logic in a variety of software systems.

APIs access the data of a particular software and work to make sure it is compatible with interacting software. End users do not have direct interactions with APIs but rather reap the benefits once their request is fulfilled.

This is why an API is not an application itself, but a type of interface. If you’re familiar with front-end web development, then you probably have some familiarity with user interfaces.

User interfaces are the graphical element of a software product that users come into contact with. They are how you’re accessing this very screen.

Of course, on the back-end of the development, there is an abundance of code powering the internal structures that make navigating any software possible.

Still, the front-end is what end users must helm in order to access any software. Likewise, APIs are what software platforms must face to gain accessibility from one software to another.

7 Examples of APIs

To be fair, it’s a bit difficult to truly understand application programming interfaces without knowing their real-life applications. Below are nine API examples, demonstrating various types of APIs.

1. Twitter Bots

If you spend a significant amount of time on Twitter, then you’ve probably come across a bot at one point or another. Twitter has numerous bots that utilize the Twitter API to perform automated tasks.

Over a decade ago, Twitter bots accounted for 24% of tweets. No doubt today, their involvement is even greater. There are so many bots it’s hard to find which ones stick out more than the others.

But for the purpose of giving API examples, it’s worth discussing one or two notable Twitter bots.

One fan favorite is @MagicRealismBot, a Twitter bot that generates magical stories every four hours. It uses a random combination of genre-defining elements and plugs them into a 280-character tweet.

Screenshot of a tweet from Magic Realism Bot with the text
@MagicRealism is a Twitter bot fan favorite that generates surreal stories intermittently. 

A more utilitarian Twitter bot is called @ThreadReaderApp. Twitter users can tag the bot under any thread. Then, the bot wraps up all the text from the thread and presents it as normal, readable text on a page.

Both these bots take advantage of the Twitter API to work successfully with Twitter’s interior software system.

2. Log-In Using XYZ

Okay, so there’s a fair chance you don’t have an account on any platform called “XYZ”. No worries.

Really, the idea is that to sign up for or log into virtually any online service you now have the option to avoid managing a secular account with its own data.

To be clear, surely there are a variety of circumstances where you’ve clicked “log-in using Facebook” or “log-in using Google”.

The effort of creating a whole new account for a certain platform just didn’t seem worth it. Luckily, there was a workaround readily available.

But you have to remember that whichever platform you were on doesn’t just happen to be best friends with Google, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social account.

Even logging in with your information from other platforms requires an API to connect the two platforms together. This is an API example in its natural habitat.

3. Weather Snippets

Ever do a Google search for the weather? A good search input likely resulted in a pop-up weather snippet right front and center on your Google search page.

This is a common Google feature that many smartphone users put to use every day, if not several times a day. It’s also a convenience many have taken for granted.

This is because weather snippets are a prime API example, showing how Google coordinates with other software on the web.

4. Pay with PayPal

Another popular API example is PayPal. PayPal is a fintech service that allows users to connect personal financial information to their PayPal account. This paves the way for easier, more secure money transfers.

You’ll see PayPal intentionally embedded into any number of websites that require financial transactions, from eBay to Airbnb.

The websites interacting with PayPal will not have direct access to your bank or card info. Your security in this regard is because of API integrations.

5. Google Maps

The Google Maps API gives users the privilege of nearly limitless geographic aptitude at their fingertips. Search nearby restaurants, niche shops, and whatever else is in relative distance to your location.

Whether you are a Senior Developer with extensive experience in development or just an active user of technologies, you may have been using this API example more often than you realize. Each time you glimpsed business hours, reviews, contact information, or anything of that nature from that handy box on your screen, that is the Google Maps API in action.

To that same effect, clicking on the map icon in that box will open the Google Maps app for you or take you straight to the Google Maps website.

6. Travel Booking

Travel booking is a very useful API example because making connections and building relationships is exactly the point of most travel websites.

That is, travel websites like Trivago and Expedia have the power to feature and sell all-inclusive travel packages that account for both lodging and travel.

But it’s not just a coincidence that travel booking platforms can pull flight information from American Airlines and book you nights at the Marriot.

No, this is the honest, hard work of application programming interfaces.

7. E-commerce

E-commerce involves the act of conducting commercial activities like buying and selling products online. PayPal, for one, is a service almost emblematic of e-commerce. And Amazon and Facebook both have trademark marketplaces representative of e-commerce.

In general, APIs are a big part of e-commerce, providing e-commerce platforms with security, speed, and scalability. Functions of e-commerce platforms like site search and currency conversion require APIs to operate properly.

Microservice architecture is also integral to e-commerce. Many e-commerce platforms use microservices to encapsulate functionality into separate, independently deployable services.

Such a means of application development offers decentralization and business capability that a monolithic architecture simply cannot.

But the most important bit to note here is that microservices — being independently deployable and all — come together in a single application via APIs.

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Hopefully, these nine API examples engender a better understanding of how crucial APIs are in software development. It should be obvious now that APIs are in most, if not all technology humans use on a day-to-day basis.

If you have an upcoming software project, there’s little to no question that APIs and data integrations will play a role in development.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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