Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Frameworks And APIs

Most web and mobile apps today have complex features that are not included in the default capabilities.  Using just the basic iOS, Android, or web software, you can make a fun calculator or button clicking app.  But what if you want to add in a map, or a Facebook login, or even an artificial intelligence algorithm?  This is possible with something called an API, or Application Processing Interface.  An API lets you take components from other companies and put them inside your own product.

Here is a list of some popular APIs:
  • Google Maps: Well supported for Android and Web, some support for iOS.
  • Facebook: app login features, update status, etc.
  • Paypal: Used for in-app purchases. 
  • Stripe: New alternative to Paypal.
  • Watson: Artificial Intelligence, such as personality and tone predicting, text to speech, analytics, and more.
  • Google Analytics: free version gives basic, easy to use analytics. Includes an enterpise version for better insights.
 Many popular APIs are run by for profit corporations.  When you look at APIs to use, make sure to check out their pricing.  For profit APIs either charge a flat rate per month, or charge a small fee every time the API is accessed after a limit.

For most APIs, you will have to sign up for an account to get an API key, which lets you access the API (called an API call).  Some companies also ask you to download a Software Development Kit, or SDK, to install the API data.

Also, since APIs need access to a company's server, almost every API requires an internet connection. 
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In addition to APIs, developers can also use tools called Libraries or Packages to add functionality to their apps that is not part of an app software's default  components.  Unlike APIs, libraries do not usually need an internet connection and are often open source (free).

Here are some popular frameworks and libraries:
  • Lottie: includes animations to give your app a polished look. 
  • Horizontal Calendar: a different type of calendar view for Android.
  • PDTSCalendarView: improves the calendar view for iOS.
  • TextFieldEffects: adds polished animations for text field interaction (iOS).
  • iRate: library for asking users to rate your app.
  • AmCharts: libraries for anything graphing related.  Great for any type of analytics page or platform. 
  • Proxitee: iOS tools for implementing geofencing and iBeacons inside an app.

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