Developers have arguably never had it better. A big reason for that:
there are virtually countless APIs that enable developers to build
really cool applications on top of foundations that someone else
invested in laying down.

When it comes to APIs, however, a lot of attention is focused on
popular services that have created platforms that developers can tap in
to. Facebook and Twitter are two of the most prominent, and many developers have cashed in developing on their platforms.

While there’s nothing wrong building Facebook games or Twitter-based applications, some of the most useful and promising APIs out there have nothing to do with building apps for someone else’s platform.

Instead, they allow developers to create useful and entertaining offerings without having to spend time building the most complicated low-level features. Here are five of these APIs developers should know about.


Video is an important part of the web, and it’s only getting more important. For developers, dealing with video can be challenging because there are a variety of file formats and codecs. Fortunately, third party services like Zencoder make dealing with video a breeze. Using Zencoder’s API, it’s easy to build applications that accept and use user-supplied video.


Contrary to popular belief, the phone is far from dead. And there are plenty of opportunities to integrate the phone with web applications. With Twilio’s API, it is possible to build applications that interact with users over the phone. Currently available in the United States and Canada, Twilio also has an API for building applications that interact with users through SMS messages.


Text might seem boring, but there’s an awful lot of it on the internet. And a lot of that text contains valuable information and insight. Saplo offers a text analysis API that can be used for everything from tagging to sentiment analysis.

Adaptive Payments

PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API gives developers the ability to build a wide range of payment functionality into their applications. Nifty features include chained and split payments, as well as the ability for customers to preapprove future payments.


Standalone consumer-facing location-based services are all the rage right now, but in the future, there’s a good chance that lots of services will incorporate location in some fashion to create better and more relevant user experiences.

SimpleGeo offers APIs that help developers build location-aware applications without having to reinvent the wheel when it comes to determining where users are located and what’s around them.

Photo credit: @boetter via Flickr.