They say that you haven’t quite mastered a subject until you can teach it to someone else & I’m here to tell you: that is true. At least in this case. I can’t teach you how to use APIs, or quite frankly, deeply educate you on what APIs are — but I can point you in the right direction about which APIs to use in your app projects & help inspire you to use them in your next app creation!

An API stands for Application Programming Interface which is a fancy way for saying “There’s this information stored over here & you want it — I can give it to you if you follow my rules!” ...Hey! Maybe I have mastered this subject... Basically, it’s the middle ground tool between two applications that want to talk to each other and allows them to do so. 

In the case of building an app, you might want to use an API for many different reasons — either to send the data that you have stored in your app to another application or to get data from another application into your app! In this article, I’ll be covering the latter. There are tens, of hundreds, of open-source APIs just waiting to be used for app creators, like yourself — these are my favorites.


ESPN Sports API

Where my sports enthusiasts at?! ⚾

Actually, this API is misleading, you absolutely do NOT have to be into sports to create something that a large audience would really enjoy. ESPN has all sorts of facts, figures, datas, and more that are a sport’s lovers' dream come true. Whether you’re planning on creating an app for your favorite sports team, or working to make a “create your own dashboard” app where users can select the teams or sports they want to follow & learn information about — this API is the place to tap into. 


Open Food Facts 

With so many food allergies, new diets, restrictions, and otherwise misinformation about the food we’re eating — the Open Food API allows you to pull nutrition information and ingredients about all sorts of food. 

The types of apps that come to mind here are finding known allergens in foods to avoid…. Or simply, finding foods you can actually enjoy with allergies. 

I would also love to see an app built using this information to help people that are new to a diet. Perhaps a goal tracking app for diet changes? 

The world is your oyster (get it?) with all this information at your fingertips! 

 

UTelly 

I’m always shocked when platforms like Netflix know what shows I’m going to enjoy. Am I that predictable?! Or are their algorithms just really fantastic? The answer is probably a mixture of both but this API can bring a little bit of Netflix magic to your app. 

Whether you’re creating a recommendation app, a TV ratings app, or something else entirely, let someone else do the work trying to figure out what your users might want to watch next. 

One way I can see this being used is allowing users to take a quiz about what shows they loved, liked, or didn’t care for and then by the end display results for what they should check out next. A custom action can be created to call the UTelly API and then once the results come back, simply create a way to display them in your app! 

Your users will thank you for some solid TV time! All I’m wondering is — who is going to create this for book recommendations?

Superhero API

Let me tell you what, I do not know anything about Superheroes. At all. But this API caught my eye because I know there is some BIG money in this space. People love themselves some superhero movies & comic con. 

This API is the superhero of superhero information. With every type of information under the sun about your favorite villains & heroes, your imagination is really the limit of creating an app with this data. 

We’re talking appearance, work, biographical information & more. Could someone please make me an Avengers tell-all app so I can actually follow the movies in some sort of meaningful way?

Exchange Rate API

There are multiple ways you could use an Exchange Rate API. Are you creating an app for travelers? Understanding exchange rates would be VERY important while traveling. Are you creating an ecommerce app with an international audience? It’s been proven that displaying payment information in the correct currency increases conversion rates — with this API you can easily display that information! 

This API comes equipped with over 50 use currencies in over 70 different countries and has up-to-date rates from multiple sources to ensure reliability. 

IP Geolocation

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not understand geolocation, but I know it’s very important for apps. Every time you use an app that requests permission to use your location — geolocation is involved. So what is this API for, in particular? Let’s say you would like to display information to a user about what is in their current location. You may get exact address information, but this API will translate that address information into longitude and latitude coordinates that you can use to calculate distances. 

Basically, it can find you the closest ice cream shop. 

Calendarific

We could all use a little dose of awareness & one of the ways we can do that in our ever-shrinking world is to, at the very least, know which holidays are going on outside your own religion or home country. This API can do just that! 

Whether you’d like to search for a specific holiday, fill your calendar with important ones, or you’re the manager of an international team — create an app & use the Calendarific API to ensure you don’t miss celebrating holidays from around the world. 

Open Brewery Database

The Craft Brewery trend does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon! Use this API to show breweries from all over — great for residents and tourists alike. This API would be perfect to combine with the IP Geolocation API to show your users which breweries are nearby. 

Combine these results with a star rating system, a favoriting system and more to create the ultimate craft brewery app for all beer lovers. Cheers!

UPS

Alright, this API is pretty explanatory, but if you need a little help understanding where or how you might use this: here you go. 

If you are a small business owner that ships goods (clothes, handmade items, etc.) then this is the perfect way to ensure your customers have up-to-date information about when their package has shipped & when it will be delivered. I can’t be the only one that gets excited waking up to a “Your order has shipped email!” even better: “Your order is out for delivery!” Make your customer’s day by improving the shopping experience with the UPS API.  

GIPHY API

Yup, I went there. Straight to the Millennials & Gen Xers among us. 

There are a few different ideas that come to mind when thinking about the use cases for this type of API. There’s the obvious one of allowing your users to search for a GIF, have it returned, and then use it in a message or comment. But what about those not so obvious cases? 

What if….

You created an emotions app, where if someone told you they were feeling sad — it could call a funny GIF to cheer them up? 

You created an app where the only way to communicate is via GIFs? 

An app was created where ratings were given in GIF form? 

Now that’s what I’m talking about. There are so many unique ways to use this API & those only took me a few minutes to come up with.

WHEW! We just went through so many different FREE APIs & all with ideas about how you could use this wealth of information to make an app! There are so many APIs out there that are great for using in an app, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. 

Which APIs do you think would help make a great app?