Here’s a simple post about what An API (Application Programming Interface) is; It is defined as a set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.
In short, an API is what allows a user to connect to a service, application, database and more provided by another party, such as Facebook. A Facebook API lets users communicate with Facebook’s server and database and extend the functionality that Facebook provides onto other websites owned by the users. “An API is a precise specification written by providers of a service that programmers must follow when using that service.”[Ref. 1]
For example, a software company releases its API to the public so that other software developers can design products that are powered by its service. [Ref. 2]
For example, Amazon.com released its API so that Web site developers could more easily access Amazon’s product information. Using the Amazon API, a third party Web site can post direct links to Amazon products with updated prices and an option to “buy now.”[Ref. 2]
Some time ago we were in discussion with a person who ran an e-commerce business on Amazon in the United States. He wanted a way to track his shipments, customer returns, customer queries, costs, revenue and taxes using Amazon’s order tracking mechanism. In which case we needed to give him a solution that would integrate with his Amazon account and automate the process. Moreover he wanted to update the details into his legacy Quickbooks accounting software. The point is that in order to achieve all this, we needed to use the Amazon API. This clearly shows how powerful software is and how it can impact business.
Here’s a video that illustrates very clearly what an API is. If you stay logged on you can view several different videos in succession, each one demonstrating various facets of APIs.
[Ref. 1] http://sproutsocial.com/insights/what-is-an-api/
[Ref. 2] http://money.howstuffworks.com/business-communications/how-to-leverage-an-api-for-conferencing1.htm
(Video courtesy: YouTube.com)