Mobile solutions have become an integral part of core operations in many organisations and as such mobile strategy has become a critical consideration for business strategy. By creating a central mobile strategy and approach, companies can provide the business with a framework to tackle any mobile project. This can help to avoid silos of development, within different areas of business. Critical to the development of any mobile strategy solution is an API first approach.
An API foundation is a collection of functions and processes that facilitates the creation of apps that can be used in conjunction with multiple frontend products. By having a formal separation between your front end and back end, the same API can be used easily across various displays, screen sizes and functionalities. Good APIs are the foundation of good apps. Without them, everything eventually crumbles or grinds to a halt. As APIs aren’t tied to a specific UI, operating system or device, they provide developers with the chance to surface data in new and interesting ways, with relative ease. RESTful JSON is recommended as best practice, as it works well with mobile apps.
With changes to operating systems and hardware, which are beyond the control of businesses, having a defined API foundation means that companies are able to adapt quickly and work in a much more agile way. In addition app data coming from APIs enable the app to be updated frequently and in real time without the need for re-deploying a build to the app store.
One of the reasons that apps such as CityMapper are so good, is that they tie into multiple APIs to surface data that makes it easy for users to find transport information. Apps such as Google Now are one of the best current examples of what happens when APIs are utilised properly. The app uses personal data, combined with data from thousands of different sources, to provide the user with information to guide them through their day-to day activities. This includes information on weather, travel information and calendar reminders. This enables the user to access a variety of information seamlessly, without having to jump from app to app. Having identified the importance of building defined APIs, Google, Microsoft and Dropbox have all made their APIs available to developers, to make it easy to integrate their services into any app.
In the future, APIs and cloud computing will help AI systems in the cloud to process more information, from more sources, much faster than a device can. Not everything needs to be stored in one place, meaning that apps don’t have to take up a huge amount of space on a device. As long as they have data connectivity and apps are designed to talk to the right APIs, they can surface the information they need to.
As apps become more sophisticated, it has become crucial to develop more heavily integrated applications. Integration with multiple systems has increased the complexity of developing these apps, which reinforces the importance of organisations implementing a solid API strategy. Building API foundations enables businesses to future-proof for further development and to increase efficiencies in the long run.