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5 Useful APIs You Should Know About

jackhiston profile image Jack Histon ・4 min read

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When it comes to software development at scale, there are always APIs that support your application. Recipe applications, image recognition software, lexical analysis systems, mobile applications, and more, all need APIs that allow them to interact with the world around them. The data that APIs provide, as well as ubiquitous access through mediums such as the internet, make them invaluable towards kick-starting your applications.

Within this article, I will explore five software APIs that I find to be fun, interesting, but above all useful in a variety of software applications. I have tried to choose APIs that differ in use cases to provide an understanding of the diversity APIs provide. I will show APIs that provide samples of domain data, perform computation on a set of inputs, and even APIs that perform image recognition to provide situational metadata.

Intellexer API

Natural language processing is one of the key features that a lot of software applications utilise today. Since the advent of the internet, there has been an explosion in the amount of information available to software. Analysis of this information is hard, and to understand the key components and the semantics of the information is a software project in itself.

The Intellexer API allows us to analyse, summarise, and spell check. When working with textual information, it can be a valuable asset. Building your own natural language processor is hard. Having a pre-built API will save you months of man-hours.

Google Contacts API

Social networks have taken over the world. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have become the staple diet of a lot of social media addicts. One key aspect they try and tailor into their platforms, is the integration with 3rd party data to increase their outreach.

One key aspect of this is the recommendation to add your own contacts to the platform. contact APIs such as Google Contacts API, and Contact APIs in general, such as the one by Lusha, come with a defined way to interact with sensitive data.

You can use this data to augment data that can allow you to streamline user experiences, keep information up to date, and to create a more personal feel to your applications. Lusha can allow you to enrich your contact data, giving you more contextual information that can be useful in domains such as sales. Lusha removes the need for you to scrape your own data together for businesses that are accessible through the internet.

Face++

There are APIs out there that are not only for information retrieval, but also for processing data that can provide further metadata. Image recognition software is a hot topic within the software industry. Technology such as smile recognition, and the famous SnapChat mobile application, utilise the ability to analyse captured images in real-time.

The Face++ API provides this technology out of the box. Face++ allows you to analyse images of faces to let you perform actions such as face similarity, 3D facial animation, and even recognise age and ethnicity.

Food API

The cooking industry is gigantic. Due to everyone having the necessity to prepare food, it comes at no surprise that cooking applications have taken off like a storm. However, for an application about cooking to be useful, there needs to be a variety of food and recipes to draw from.

The Spoonacular Food API allows you to search for food, recipes, and ingredients. All you need to create an application all about cooking in the kitchen.

NASA API

As we have discussed, there are APIs that provide input processing, metadata, image manipulation, and even a catalogue to use. There are also APIs that have been developed that are primarily for the spread of information; The NASA API is one such API.

The NASA API allows you to download imagery and data about a variety of topics. From aerospace, earth science, and data results from experiments conducted by NASA. With this data you can develop applications that can further your development with such things as data mining, or use it within data fusion to provide further accuracy within your own scientific applications.

Conclusion

The goal of this article was to open your mind to the many possible APIs that are out there which can facilitate your application. When it comes to developing software, you should err on the side of implementing the least amount of code possible.

Try and use 3rd party APIs that have already been thoroughly tested, and which have thousands of dedicated man-hours. This will ensure that you achieve feature completion quicker, without needing an initial phase to get your application providing value. Can you think of an API that will help you with development of your software application?

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