APIs in the sky: Capitalizing on the cloud and hybrid mobile app development
Mobile devices are taking off and boosting communication for consumers and businesses alike. There is a nearly unlimited number of mobile applications at end users’ fingertips, and mobility and content availability have become major application success factors.
How can businesses make the most of these critical features? The answer lies in hybrid mobile app development and application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs are crucial to the success of any mobile business and have benefits for organizations of all types.
The power of the cloud
You rub shoulders with the cloud in everyday life. Have you ever heard of Apple iCloud, Google Drive or Spotify? Billions of people use these applications every day, yet the cloud, and hybrid mobile app development, have uses far beyond the consumer grade.
In an enterprise-level cloud infrastructure, all your services are placed in the cloud. Your application itself is just a “thin client” that accesses those services. Platforms, databases and software can all be hosted on the cloud and offered on demand. Developers don’t need to worry about creating new infrastructure from scratch. Instead, they can start up whatever services they need in their cloud environments and connect their application clients to those services. This leads to significant time and cost savings.
On the other hand, cloud-based architecture needs to be constantly available to your users. You can’t afford to have your environment go down, especially if you do business through mobile applications. Every minute of downtime equals lost business, so redundancy must be built into your environment to ensure its availability every moment of every day.
A look at the API economy
One of the cloud’s biggest strengths is the API. This is a collection of libraries or function/service calls that a developer creates and publishes for public use. By using APIs that have already been published by other developers, businesses can skip on having to create their own applications that would do the same thing.
For example, APIs can be used to retrieve updates on the weather, information about the status of a flight or directions to a destination. The National Weather Service, FlightAware and Google Maps leverage their data and expose it for use by the third-party APIs that are built to capitalize on it.
While many APIs are offered freely, others charge a fee. Some allow a certain number of free service calls before incurring a cost. In this way, a business’s assets can be monetized to create new revenue streams. There is no need to create new assets for public use: The business can use the same APIs both internally and externally, which cuts development time.
This is called the API economy, which is being fueled by the cross-industry trend toward digital transformation. The potential of APIs is virtually limitless. They power a customer’s digital experience, whether they are tracking account history, ordering products, making payments, collecting loyalty rewards or beyond. Services you use every day utilize APIs, whether you are browsing social media, watching videos or looking up directions.
And, the API footprint can only grow. Gartner has estimated that there are more than 6 billion connected devices in use today. According to ZDNet, the research firm has predicted that number will grow to 25 billion by 2020. Almost all of those devices will use APIs in some way.
The cloud is growing bigger than ever and is set to become even larger as an exponential number of devices come online in the near future. Businesses need to get their cloud, mobile and API strategies in order to thrive. The potential for cheaper, easier, cloud-based infrastructure, as well as the ability to open new revenue streams with APIs, make this topic one that is impossible to ignore.