If you regularly use web or mobile apps, you may have encountered the acronym “API.” So what exactly is an API?
API stands for “application programming interface,” and is a set of tools and protocols for building software applications. While some companies restrict their APIs to a limited set of developers in order to protect intellectual property or tightly control who can develop for a specific platform, APIs can also be freely published, allowing anyone to make use of them to build an application or integration.
One of the most commonly encountered uses for APIs today is that they allow your apps and services to communicate with one another. For example, have you ever shared a photo from within one social media app to another? That was done through the use of an API which allowed the two services to communicate. Have you ever pulled a document from a file sharing service into another program? Again, an API made this possible.
Applications in Collaboration
Similar to the above examples, APIs power integrations for collaboration software, allowing you to access information from or send information to your other apps and services without having to navigate to them directly.
For example, within iMeet, you can directly access a meeting guest’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr by simply clicking on their cube. This information populates directly within the iMeet interface, as opposed to forcing you to open a new tab and navigate to each social media site individually, all things to each services’ open APIs.
Another example, also from iMeet, allows meeting guests to send any notes taken during the meeting directly to Evernote. It also gives you direct access to your notes in Evernote from the iMeet interface, including the ability to share them with the meeting room.
Finally, smart calendar apps like Agenday make heavy use of APIs. They collect and aggregate information from your various calendars (including Google Calendar and Outlook) and provide valuable, contextually relevant information about your day such as current weather conditions and social media profiles of upcoming meeting guests. For sales, Agenday also offers direct connections to Salesforce for logging calls and adding contacts. However, arguably the most important usage of APIs in your smart calendar is connecting you directly into your web conferencing application of choice; a single tap on your meeting notification will launch you into your favorite web conferencing app.
APIs, particularly open APIs, continue to power the interconnected nature of today’s digital existence. For collaboration, they provide mission-critical integrations that streamline your workday and empower productivity.