The first place I had ever seen an API actually at work was as part of an operating system. It was a strange OS at that, a permutation of CP/M that used a graphical front end called GEM, which would later be ported to the Atari ST. The definition was explained to me like this: An "interface," as everyone knows, is a specification for how electrical components interconnect. Well, now it's possible for an application program - the part that does what users need - to interconnect with the operating system, which does what the computer needs.
Over the last year, a firm called Usergrid has been building an open source tool for leading mobile app developers through the process of creating back-end services for managing users. The Usergrid philosophy is contrary to quite a lot of the cloud-centered design methodology promoted by SaaS - the idea that the server can do everything, and a thin device can serve as the portal. Instead, Usergrid has promoted the idea of richer mobile apps that use Web services and APIs in a more passive, RESTful manner.
Roll-your-own API service Usergrid has been acquired by API management company Apigee. Usergrid could potentially help Apigee reach out to mobile developers increasingly finding themselves needing APIs to interact with their apps. It’s part of a trend of developers not only being API consumers, but also API providers–at least privately to their own apps.
Apigee, a provider of API management products and services, which we’ve referred to in the past as a “Google Analytics for APIs” has acquired the mobile cloud platform Usergrid. For those unfamiliar, Usergrid helps to make mobile app development easier by providing the APIs needed to manage data, users and events. The company provides these kind of core APIs for the backend so mobile developers can speed their time to market.
At AT&T's Developers' Summit at CES today, AT&T announced new programs that promoted its innovation program (AT&T Foundry) and continuing support for opening up its network.
This week AT&T re-introduced themselves as a large proponent in the developer world for the mobile world, saying the apps that the developers create are the fundamental bits of the mobile experience. This developer program started all the way back in 1996, 16 years ago that is, much MUCH before the first “smart” phone. They began with their brand new API platform this week, this providing APIs, Tools, and Support to developers across the board, the development console powered by Apigee and the whole system based on HTML 5.
Application programming interfaces that allow outsiders to create applications that link to core company services are likely to become a requirement, not an option, in the future economy.That's one conclusion from a study of 24 companies that have experience in implementing APIs. The leading example of a successful API implementation is Google's issuance of a public API for Google Maps. The API allowed outside developers to build applications that tap Google Maps to show the locations of businesses and services.
In perhaps one of the more counter-intuitive surveys to be published this year, commissioned by developer tools maker Apigee, a majority of businesses interviewed whose IT departments are currently managing API-intensive development projects say that integration with social networking sites is the least of their concerns.Though the interview was limited to only 24 companies (leaving some doubt as to whether the sample size is adequate enough), the Web API study published by Hurwitz & Associates shows only 12% (3 firms) registering "expanding to social networking sites" as an important motivating factor for adopting APIs in applications.
For businesses, APIs are clearly evolving from a nice-to-have to a must-have. Externalization of back-end functionality so that apps can interact with systems, not just people, has become critical. As we move into 2012, several API trends are emerging.
It was just over a decade ago that businesses were still wondering why it was necessary to have a Web site. Now it's a foregone conclusion that they are one of the most important touchpoints for any organization to possess. Fast forward to the last few years, and businesses are now -- in the same way they did with Web sites -- beginning to come to terms with the concept of the open API, and how it is turning out to be just as vital to the long-term success of their business.