A La Code: APIs


Happy hump day, friends! Starting today, each week, I'll be breaking down a complex technical term or topic for us to explore together. So, join me and let's make technology more accessible and the industry a viable future for all people.

Today’s tech topic is APIs or Application Programming Interface. What is an API? Well, let’s first break down each of the words. An application, or app, is the software we all have downloaded on our phones, such as Instagram, Google Maps, and Tinder ;) Programming is the language used by engineers to create aforementioned apps. Finally, interface is what allows two apps to communicate with one another. It’s like ordering a dress online. Imagine going to your favorite online store and ordering a dress. Once you place the order, the order is then sent to the store. The store prepares your dress and then delivers it to your home. In short, an API is a way for one product or service to communicate with another product or service in order to pass data (information), functionalities, or, in this case, your dress.  

But how does it work? Well, if you’re reading this, you’ve likely already interacted with an API. If you have an iPhone and have asked Siri, “What song is playing?”, you’re actually using Shazam. Apple is calling upon our algorithm (our recipe for musical magic) and returning you data (artists and track titles) via our API integration. Yep.  Mind blown.

Still wondering why we use APIs? Well, APIs enable larger companies, like Facebook, to acquire lots of cool, new features for free, while at the same time enabling developers to build on the base that Facebook has created and garner users on a large, scaled platform. #Winning For my company, it enables us to bring the magic of our functionality to music lovers wherever they are, whether or not they’ve downloaded our app. APIs peak your interest? Try your hand at one of these courses below:


Photo credit: Andrew Ho