Customer experiences and digital technology have evolved rapidly in recent years. Software companies have developed new solutions and ways to provide seamless and better digital experiences to users.
Understanding that demands, developers now place a higher priority on the interaction between the client and server. This communication, however, will not happen without the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
APIs are as a software mediator that allows applications to communicate and exchange data. They define how data is shared, the conventions that are utilized, and the data formats that are shared. Developers use APIs for mobile application development to create a mobile app faster and smarter.
The Benefits of Using APIs for Mobile Application Development
Although an API is isolated from the rest of the software application, it enables the application functions by letting data from one application be used in other applications. For instance, if your business is reliant on the weather, you might want to use the weather API to display hourly, weekly and monthly weather on your application.
You may also create your own weather forecasting tool for your application. For example, Grab previously used Google Maps APIs for its app to show roads and locations. But in some countries, Grab is now using OpenStreetMap as its own mapping technology.
To help users sign in to third-party apps and services, you can either build a sign-in feature from scratch or use the API that enables users to log in to applications by using their Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts.
By using APIs for mobile application development, developers can receive numerous benefits, as below:
- Reduce development time
- Build functionalities and features without writing so many code
- Make the mobile app more simple, creative and easy to use
- Make the app more productive and efficient
- Connect a variety of payment methods to simplify the transaction process
How to Build Mobile Applications Faster and Smarter with APIs
APIs for mobile application development are advantageous, especially if you are working in the eCommerce industry. Averagely, an eCommerce store needs at least 25 to 50 APIs to integrate multiple services such as inventory management, payment, fulfillment, shipping, marketing, reporting and analysis, etc. With the help of APIs, you can make your app aesthetically attractive and scalable. Below are several ways to develop a mobile application faster and smarter using APIs.
1. Ensure precision in every architectural decision
Ensuring precision in architectural decisions when using APIs for mobile app development is important for several reasons:
Performance: Precise decisions help ensure that the app runs efficiently, loads quickly, and does not cause issues such as crashes or slowdowns.
User Experience: Poorly designed APIs can result in a poor user experience, which can negatively impact app adoption and retention.
Scalability: Precision in architectural decisions helps ensure that the app can easily be scaled up as needed, without requiring major rework.
Maintenance: Precise decisions help minimize technical debt, making it easier to maintain and update the app over time.
Security: Precise decisions help ensure that sensitive user data is properly protected and that the app is secure against potential security threats.
Overall, ensuring precision in architectural decisions is critical for delivering a high-quality, reliable, and secure mobile app.
2. Break the large system into small independent services
Using large systems for integration in mobile app API development can negatively impact the performance of the app and user experience. This is because mobile devices have limited processing power, memory and battery compared to desktop or server systems.
Therefore, to optimize performance and ensure a seamless user experience, it is recommended to break down a large system into small independent services, called a microservices architecture. By this way, different features or services can be created, deployed and updated independently without compromising application integrity. Each service has a specific task and communicates with other services through APIs, allowing for a loosely-coupled, scalable architecture.
Implementing microservices in API-based mobile app development requires careful planning and consideration of inter-service communication, security, and data management. It is also important to choose the right tools and technologies to support the development and deployment of microservices.
3. Choose the right database for mobile apps
Choosing the right storage and database is critical when using APIs for mobile application development, as it directly impacts the performance and scalability of the app. Here’s why and how:
Why: Mobile apps often need to store large amounts of data, such as user profiles, settings, and app content. Using the right storage and database will allow the application to handle large amounts of data.
How: There are several factors to consider when choosing the right storage and database for a mobile app:
- Data size: The amount of data that needs to be stored and managed can impact the choice of database. For example, NoSQL databases are often a good choice for handling large amounts of unstructured data, while relational databases are better suited for structured data.
- Performance: The performance requirements of the app can impact the choice of database. For example, in-memory databases are often used for high-performance applications, while traditional relational databases are more suitable for applications with lower performance requirements.
- Scalability: The scalability requirements of the app can impact the choice of database. For example, cloud-based databases are often used for scalable applications, while on-premise databases are more suitable for smaller or less scalable applications.
- Cost: The cost of storing and managing the data can impact the choice of database. For example, open-source databases are often a cost-effective choice, while proprietary databases can be more expensive.
Therefore, it is important to choose a storage and database solution that meets the specific needs of the app and supports its long-term growth and success.
4. Reduce network chatter and API calls that can affect the performance of app
This is another important tip to focus on when using APIs for mobile apps. API calls and network chatter can significantly impact the performance of a mobile app, especially on slow or unreliable network connections. API calls can also result in increased data usage and battery drain, negatively impacting the user experience.
Solution: You can consider the following strategies:
- Caching: Caching data on the device can reduce the need for frequent API calls, improving performance and reducing data usage.
- Batch requests: Batching multiple API requests into a single request can reduce the number of API calls and improve performance.
- Compression: Compressing data before it is sent over the network can reduce network chatter and improve performance.
- Data optimization: Optimizing the data that is sent over the network, such as reducing the size of images and other data, can reduce network chatter and improve performance.
- Offline mode: Implementing an offline mode for the app can reduce the need for API calls and improve the user experience in areas with weak or unreliable network connections.
These ways can help developers improve the performance, responsiveness, and user experience of the app.
5. Security is needed for building mobile apps with APIs
Mobile apps that use APIs can be vulnerable to security threats, such as data breaches, hacking, and malware. These threats can result in the loss of sensitive user data, such as login credentials, personal information, and payment details. They can also harm the reputation of the app and its developer, and lead to legal and financial consequences.
To secure mobile apps with APIs, consider the following strategies:
- Authentication: Implementing secure authentication mechanisms, such as OAuth or JWT, can prevent unauthorized access to the app and its data.
- Encryption: Encrypting sensitive data both in transit and at rest can protect against data breaches and unauthorized access.
- Authorization: Implementing proper authorization controls, such as role-based access, can limit access to sensitive data and functionality to authorized users only.
- Input validation: Validating user inputs, such as forms and API requests, can prevent security vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
- Regular updates: Keeping the app and its dependencies up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates can prevent known security vulnerabilities from being exploited.
Securing mobile apps with APIs is a critical consideration in mobile app development. By implementing secure authentication, encryption, authorization, input validation, and regular updates, developers can ensure the privacy and security of sensitive user data and prevent security threats from affecting the app and its users.
What to conclude about APIs for mobile application development?
APIs play a critical role in the development of mobile applications, acting as the secret weapon to build apps faster and smarter. They allow developers to access and utilize a wealth of pre-built functionality and data, saving time and resources. With the increasing demand for sophisticated and user-friendly mobile apps, APIs provide an efficient and cost-effective solution for developers to keep up with the ever-evolving technology landscape. By leveraging APIs, developers can create innovative and functional mobile applications that meet the needs of their users and stay ahead of the competition.