Last Updated on January 21, 2022

API (Application Programming Interface) is valuable for every software project. In our routine life, we use different mobile apps to meet our daily needs. Have you ever wondered what helps us connect with those apps? The answer is API. It enables product X to talk to product Y.

In simple words, in computer programming, an API is like a door installed with robust security. To pass through, you need to follow the rules.

Today, APIs are everywhere. They control how we navigate our GPS, get information from our social media sites, how we book our tickets online, and much more.

Suppose you have released your app MVP and next want to enrich it with extra functionality, like social login, geolocation, etc. So, should you create all those features from scratch? Well, not exactly. You can achieve your target just by using various readymade APIs offered by varied services.

Doesn’t it sound interesting? Well, to find out more about API, keep reading this post. This article will get almost every detail relevant to third-party API, 3rd-party API integration, and more.

Let’s start!

What’s A Third-Party API?

Let’s take an example to understand better. When you go to a restaurant, you need a waiter to place your order. Next, he takes your order and comes back with your order on your table.

Similarly, in this case, API acts as a waiter. It takes the requests from your app and sends them to a third-party system. Next, it delivers the result back to your mobile app.

Application Programming Interface (API) is a defined method that allows communication between many software components with a set of tools, subroutine definitions, and protocols that permit your app to borrow data and functionality from other services or apps.

A Third-Party API Includes Two Chief Components:

1. Clients

You may call it a system that sends the request to the server.

2. Server

It may be a database or computer that responds to the request.

How Does Mobile API Work?

The API is a tool that is optimized for sharing. Its natural state is to connect. If you permit developers to access and use API, they will bring their functionality and data into the equation, which, in return, strengthens your app.

What’s Third-Party API Integration?

When a business uses an API of a third party to strengthen integration with another business app or web service is known as third-party API integration.

For example, your business may use Google’s API to power up a Google Ads integration with your website. It is a 3rd-party API integration. On the contrary, a first-party API integration will use your in-house API to strengthen your business’s in-app functionality.

Why Use Mobile API Integration?

Why Use Mobile API Integration

Despite developing a required functionality from scratch, most use mobile API integration because of the below reasons:

1. More Value

By offering app users the advanced features, 3rd-party API integration may become your app USP (unique selling proposition) and assist your app ideas to stand uniquely in the crowd.

2. Business Standards

APIs help making better data-driven decisions for your app functionality through analytics components, like device types, usage patterns, and geographical locations. Such insights are specifically helpful for businesses that have launched app MVP and looking for better ideas on app usability.

3. Fewer Costs

As your app can use the functions of other apps, your development team will need less time to develop unique app ideas that lower the cost of app development and time to market.

4. Convenient App

APIs make your app accessible easily via channels with which your app users interact. Using Google Maps API for determining geolocation, Facebook APIs for social login or Paypal API for online shopping can make your app more convenient for the users and increase their engagement.

How To Integrate API To Your Mobile App?

Every API has its integration methods as different APIs are responsible for various functions, actions, and information.

Let’s Highlight The API Integration Patterns

Step 1. Hire An API Integration Expert

If you are not from a technical background, for integrating an API with your app, you will need the assistance of a mobile app developer. He will use an SDK (Software Development Kit) that includes a cluster of software development tools in a single installable package. This way, the developer integrates the chosen API correctly.

Step 2. Build The Project Within The API Provider System

An app developer registers in the API provider system as every call to the API endpoint demands authentication.

Step 3. Gets API Key & Authorization Token

After registration, the developer receives an API key that helps the API provider system identify the authentication token and calling project to verify that the calling user holds access to fulfill this request.

Step 4. Integrate API Framework For The App

Next, the developer installs the chosen SDK with APIs to an application build environment using the dependency managers, like Maven for Android apps and CocoaPods for iOS.

Step 5. Use API Request Instances & Methods

The app developer implements new functionality using the dependencies appended during the last step to allow the app to use new features integrated through API.

Hire mobile app developers

Pros & Cons Of Third-Party APIs

1. Can’t Tailor

An API that a third party develops will hold requirements and regulations. So, it’s not a perfect solution when you want to alter an API for a specific client or business needs. Although, primarily, a 3rd-party API will fulfill your requirements and be a more effective and safer solution.

2. No Need To Build Feature From Scratch

Let’s take an example to understand it better. Suppose you want a map feature in your app, so instead of designing, developing, and implementing a new map platform with your in-house API, you can just use Google Maps. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel unnecessarily. Third-party APIs are reliable and offer you the required data you need to run your business.

3. No Need To Maintain

As you don’t own a 3rd-party API, it’s not your responsibility to take care of its maintenance.

4. Help Approach An Issue

A 3rd-party API allows you to reach an issue that even your in-house developers can’t.

Must Read: How To Choose A Tech Stack App Development

Top API Use Cases

The integrated API holds the caliber to perform the below actions:

1. Using Features Of Other Services

For example, apps that use PayPal’s Braintree API as their payment gateway.

2. Getting Other’s Service Information

For example, by integrating the API of New York’s subway system, you can offer your app users real-time travel data, such as the schedule of trains, departure, and arrival.

3. Getting Access To Other Services Data Or Mobile Device Features

For instance, Instagram and Snapchat use the phone’s camera API to click pictures.

In brief, by using API, you can append new features to your app, get access to other mobile device features and other services data without even developing those features from scratch.

Examples Of 3rd-Party API

  • Facebook API, the social network API integration, is usually used to authorize new apps users through their existing Facebook profile; thus, users are not required to fill long registry forms.
  • Booking API helps in appending hotel booking information to your app like prices, amenities, accommodation queries, and more.
  • Movie Database API will perform perfectly if you want to develop an on-demand video streaming platform like Netflix. Such an API offers access to IMDB rating, movie titles, release date, etc.
  • Skyscanner API would be helpful if you want to build a travel app and offer your users ticket prices, flight search options, etc., from ticketing agencies.
  • Spoonacular API is essential for diet and fitness apps as it includes over 86,000 food products and 365,000 recipes. Moreover, your app users can calculate the number of calories your meal contains, find recipes suiting your diet, etc.

Also Read: How to build a mobile app

Conclusion

So, by integrating third-party APIs with your app, you can enhance its functionality without even wasting your time developing the needed feature from scratch. This way, you can save the cost and time of your app development, make your app stand uniquely ahead of the curve, and increase user engagement.

Author

I am an eCommerce consultant, a member of the Forbes technology council with a decade of experience in the ecommerce development segment. My expertise can make your business overcome any obstacles while you are dealing with the Magento ecommerce platform!