7 Examples of APIs We Use All the Time

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Imagine this scenario: it is 6:32 AM on a Monday morning, and you are awakened by your alarm clock. You roll over, turn off the deafening clamor, and sign in to your email briefly to assess your day. You notice an email from a client requesting a rescheduling of that morning’s first meeting. You don’t want to get sucked into work quite yet, but it’s the day’s first item, and your team needs to be informed. You sign into the company Slack and update the pertinent channel, alerting the team to the changes. Then you use an app to set the morning’s coffee to brewing.

Congratulations — you have just used at least five APIs before getting out of bed!

When it comes to web APIs, there is sometimes the tendency to think of them as either super technical — like an API that lets you model plant growth — or else as high-tech toys. The truth is that we all use APIs virtually all of the time in our digital lives. APIs are the infrastructure that makes many of the day-to-day actions we take for granted possible.

To prove that point, we’ve assembled another shortlist of APIs we use every day to give you some ideas of how you’re already using APIs.

7 APIs We Use Every Day

Twitter API

While not everybody’s on the bird app, Twitter’s also infiltrated most other aspects of our day-to-day lives, as well, especially in a world where hot take tweets are considered newsworthy.

If you are on Twitter, do you follow any bots? Like @met_eupaintings, for example, which regularly tweets selections from The Metropolitan Museum Of Modern Art’s collection of European paintings?

If you have, you’ve seen the Twitter API in action.

Social media scheduling apps and management software also make use of the Twitter API, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. If you’ve ever monitored a hashtag or used a social listening tool of some kind, you’ve also used the Twitter API.

Auth0 API

Third-party authorization has got to be one of the most common, most popular, and most useful types of APIs out there. They’re so omnipresent that we might not even think of them as high-tech tools. Like light switches, third-party authorization APIs are simply part of the infrastructure that makes modern life operational.

Third-party authorization is possible thanks to the implementation of 0Auth 2.0, a standard protocol for allowing permissions. Thanks to 0Auth 2.0 and the incessant need for third-party authorization, there are plenty of authorization APIs out there to choose from. This means you might not interact with a particular third-party authorization API in one given day. The odds are good you interact with some kind of authorization API, though. For example, Auth0 is a particularly popular third-party authorization API, so it may be powering the backend of some of your logins.

Google API

Or should we say… Google API(s)? Google maintains a wide array of different APIs, for everything from accelerating mobile pages to data from Google Books. Google also maintains numerous YouTube APIs, for everything from creating playlists to reporting offensive content.

Considering there are over 100 Google APIs, including the Gmail API or the Google Sheets API, odds are good you probably encounter at least one Google API on any given day.

It’s also a sign that if you’re a developer, you should consider having the Google APIs in your toolkit. Consider them the Swiss Army Knife of digital connectivity!

Paypal API

eCommerce was already pervasive even before COVID-19 disrupted virtually everything. In a world dependent on social distancing and remote everything, the ability to accept digital payments is crucial.

Recent studies report that over 150 million Americans have used a digital wallet at some point in their lives. Of the digital wallets, PayPal is by far the most popular with 72.9% of retailers currently accepting PayPal payments.

Any time you see a pop-up window with a Pay With PayPal option, you’re seeing the PayPal API in action.

National Weather Service API

The time and temperature are nearly everywhere, from looking up a location on Google to weather apps that come loaded on smart devices. If you’ve ever looked up the weather on pretty much any device, you’ve used a weather API.

Of course, like third-party authorization and eCommerce payment APIs, there’s a proliferation of weather APIs out there. It’s hard to say which weather API you’ve been querying, but the National Weather Services’ API is a likely candidate. First of all, this weather API is straight from the NWS. Secondly, and possibly even more importantly, it’s entirely free.

Netflix API

If you’ve ever used a video streaming app on one of your devices (and who hasn’t in 2021?), you have likely used some sort of streaming API. If you have a Netflix subscription, the Netflix API is what configures your content for the intended device. Netflix’s API may not be available publicly any longer, but it’s still doing plenty of heavy lifting on the backend of things.

Spotify API

Likewise, the Spotify API lets you engage with the Spotify library in a number of ways via an API. You can retrieve track info, other musical metadata, look up user info, and even add tracks to playlists.

While we won’t try and guess exactly what subscription services you’re signed up for, there’s a very high probability you probably use at least one streaming service or app on any given basis. That means that APIs are driving your favorite TV series, albums, and anything else that’s been helping you stay sane and bringing you joy during the pandemic.

We Use APIs All The Time

As you can see, APIs are not some esoteric, mystical tools. If anything, they’re more like the pipes that bring you drinking water or the router that delivers your WiFi. Considering how interconnected our world has become, APIs will only become more prevalent as the years tick by.

For the newcomers, these are also some excellent APIs to experiment and play around with if you’re still getting used to working with APIs. They’re also some of the most useful ones out there, which could benefit your stack greatly if you don’t use them already.