Hey, what does an API do?

types of APIs
types of APIs

I often talk to people who understand the value of the Apps they use on mobile devices and tablets but don’t quite get where the idea of an API fits in and the value it provides. Let’s relate this to an example we all can identify with to understand what is an API and different types of APIs:

The concierge example

apis as a concierge
When you stay at a hotel, you often find you need some help with access to services so you speak to the Concierge who can easily connect you with the services you seek. Whether they are available in the hotel, like dinner reservations or beyond the hotel like golf, theater tickets or some other events. Essentially the concierge simplifies your access to services.

APIs to the digital world

apis to the digital world
Now consider an App for your iPhone, the BMW ConnectedDrive app for example. You can see by the variety of menu choices: parking service, connected home, concierge service, music and entertainment, interaction with the car …

Types of APIs

BMW developers of the App use APIs to simplify access to services they need; some internal, some external. These are managed by an API platform like AMPLIFY API Management.
The API provides easy access to the music profile of the driver, its home connected devices, a hotel booking platform … it also provides a variety of information from BMW’s internal enterprise systems such as closest car dealership, maintenance service or interactions with the car, as explained in this video.

APIs in the context of yesterday and today

This is interesting to see how APIs have evolved over the past decades. APIs were originally vendor specific and just meant to be used by a few specialists. Now, APIs have become a standard way to connect to applications and accelerate time to value.
api evolution

There are many types of APIs. Want to be in the know? Learn all about the different types of APIs in this article.


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