API development is one of the best things about the internet – connecting sites together and generally making web design more convenient and more impressive.
Here are 5 websites that wouldn’t be where they are today without innovative API development.
Netflix’s approach to APIs has been a major part of its success in the online streaming market.
Years back, the streaming service allowed its data to be shared on an open API for developers across the world to experiment with. As a result, many of the algorithms that users now take for granted were born – including aspects of the ‘what you should watch next’ feature.
Netflix’s API usage was also good news for third party websites. Popular sites such as Instant Watcher made use of this open source information to build custom recommendations, detailed lists and availability tools for the service.
Last year Netflix prevented third party developers from accessing its content, but it will still allow selected partners like Instant Watcher to continue to use its data to offer specific solutions to customers.
Twitter’s API invited developers across the world to foster innovation around its service. Platforms such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite were a direct result of that – using Twitter’s infrastructure to create something bigger, better and more specialised than its original form.
What’s more, in 2010 Twitter released a new site design which was built completely off the back of its own API. Yep, using exactly the same information as TweetDeck and Hootsuite, Twitter improved its interface with an API of its very own.
The New York Times
The New York Times has opened up decades of news stories with its very own API, and has set an example for other news websites in how media giants can extend their brand in conjunction with other websites.
Thanks to the NY Times’ API, third parties can create sections on their own sites that aggregate its own content and show trends – thus generating links and traffic back to the venerable newspaper while emphasising it as a valuable news source.
For instance, the developer Raymond Camden used the Times’ API to ascertain how many times the word ‘war’ appeared in a headline: Pretty neat.
Google’s Maps tool is one of the search provider’s most-used features. It also offers it out as an API which has led to it being adopted by thousands of different sites and online games. As a great example, the airline Flybe uses this API to give its users an interactive way to see where they want to fly to.
While being great for brand awareness and usability, as many of the other APIs have been, Google’s Maps API also represents a lucrative money-making opportunity as it charges any sites that use it more than 25,000 times a day.