How do they do that?
You may wonder how Apple’s Siri or Google Now works its magic behind the scenes. It’s more than the voice recognition—although that’s actually not too shabby. Somehow, it’s able to take action for you across your day: adding events to calendars, calling people, sending messages, knowing where trafﬁc is and how to avoid it, and answering cryptic queries for information. And they keep getting better, and adding more services rapidly. How do they make that easy?Or, you may notice your customers using Mint to visualize their ﬁnancial data, and betterment.com to track progress towards goals—how do they work together? How does someone sign into one site using a completely other site like Facebook? How do I post an Instagram photo of the Spicy Basil Chicken dish from my Foursquare login to my Facebook timeline? How does an ad for Burberry I see on my weather app know it’s raining where I am?Maybe your neighbor suddenly got a site built in a weekend for his non-proﬁt, and it collects user accounts, has newsletters, and makes money from purchases of books from Amazon. How did that happen? Does he have 20 developers in his basement?The answer—in an acronym—is APIs
. Driven by a need to access and integrate data stored in the cloud, by startups building cloud-services and by the need to build mobile apps, people are rapidly adding APIs to their applications and making them available publically. APIs allow developers to build on your data and services, and in turn allow others to build on theirs. Other platforms aggregate this functionality into even more useful services, just as you can aggregate theirs. Businesses with APIs are suddenly connected with and adding value on top of other businesses, and serving their customers in new and interesting ways. Or, like Amazon, seeing an entire new revenue stream emerge.So, what’s an API?
Which is a TLA for “Applica
tion Programming Interface”