6 things that you didn't know had APIs behind them

6 things that you didn't know had APIs behind them

Technology has permeated into every aspect of everyday life. APIs are more prevalent in our daily lives than most of us realize and they make life easier for programmers and developers, and for you too. To prove it, we pinpoint 6 things that have an API running under the hood an you never imagined concealed one or several APIs. 

02 Oct. 2018

Technology has permeated into every aspect of everyday life, both at work and in our personal lives. Perhaps you look at your tablet first thing in the morning to check the news, have a coffee brewed by your latest generation coffee machine, head to work in a car that would impress even Michael Knight from Knight Rider, and so on throughout the day. In fact, there is practically nothing that we do on a daily basis that is not underpinned by some kind of technology. However, do you know how many of these activities also conceal an underlying API?

Programming interfaces make life so much easier for programmers and developers, and for you too. Below is a list of things that you may be surprised to find out have an API running under the hood:

  • Home: Imagine a house that you can control completely via your smartphone, even when you're not at home. And now stop imagining, because this is no longer the realm of fiction. The Samsung Smart Home gives users control over any domestic appliance or home device connected to Samsung, whether it be the fridge, oven or TV, all thanks to an API operating in the cloud. Full information on this API for the home can be found here.
  • Siri: The Apple personal assistant that reacts to natural language, and can answer questions and provide recommendations, uses a private API only available to Apple developers. The Siri API has two functions: the first to reveal what actions are available, and the second to offer a means of running said actions. Despite huge demand among developers, this API for third parties would be very difficult to run in other environments. More information on how it works.
  • Play Station 4: The console already uses a number of APIs, and a new one, called Vulkan, is now set to be included. This multi-platform API is used to develop applications with 3D graphics. This means Play Station will be able to compete directly with DirecX12, the API used by Microsoft for its Xbox. Vulkan allows developers to harness the full potential of the console's hardware, with one such benefit being a higher frame rate per second, thus providing a considerably superior visual experience. This article discusses how it works in greater detail. As well as consoles, video games also harness APIs to support social network-style features.
  • Roomba vacuum cleaner: That's right, even vacuum cleaners can use APIs. Roomba, the vacuum cleaner that works autonomously, is supported by RooWifi (1.1) as it goes about its various cleaning functions. The API is compatible with Windows, MAC, GNU / Linux and other operating systems. The latest version of the API can be cloned from a Github repository or downloaded directly in a compressed ZIP file. Full details are available here.
  • Sony digital cameras: Sony digital cameras use a beta API called “Camera Remote”, which provides wireless access to the devices. The API allows users to manage several Sony cameras from a different device and control aspects such as the zoom, remote display and automatic timer, as well as take photographs and record videos. More information on the Camera Remote API is available at the Sony developer site.
  • Cars: Self-driving cars that interact with users are now a reality. Vehicles are increasingly connected, ranging from voice interaction through to storing favorite routes. Such features are supported by hidden APIs. A couple of examples include Dash Chassis API, a connected vehicle platform that provides access to fuel usage, cost and efficiency information, and GM Developer API, a programming interface that can be used to unlock doors, activate the car alarm and access data on the subscriber or the vehicle.

These are just a few everyday examples of activities underpinned by hidden programming interfaces, but many more ordinary objects also operate thanks to APIs. Smart Cities likewise benefit from them.

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