What is an API?

Most people understand that a web page is hosted on something called a server and is viewed through a web browser. But there is another layer of software and communication here that isn’t easily seen: the API. Ever wonder how some websites include an actual Google™ Map in the middle of their webpage? Or how someone can seemingly tweet or post to Facebook from within another website? These tasks are made possible through use of an API service, or “Application Programming Interface”. Google, Facebook™ and many other companies including IDICIA provide API to enable other webpages and services to use their special, underlying capabilities without having to go through their actual webpage.

In the Google example, the webpage containing a Google Map is communicating with Google, invisibly and instantly, to request a picture of a Google map so it is able to display the map as the webpage loads on your browser. It’s impressive stuff and APIs are a core piece of functionality on which rests much of the world wide web and mobile computing capabilities. You are probably using APIs in various ways that you aren’t even aware of. The API isn’t the server, it is a part of code on the server that accepts requests for data and returns data based on parameters sent.

For example, if you are using a weather “app” on your phone, the application isn’t storing all available weather data on your phone. Instead, it makes connects to a weather information API, passing it your current location (known as a geo-location). The weather information API in turns finds the weather conditions for your location and returns them to your phone’s weather application. This “request/response” communication is how APIs are built. APIs are used because phones don’t have enough storage to save all the data they might need in the future. APIs allow these applications to make specific requests for very specific data so there is no need to download and process or store all of that information in advance.

Where to find an API:

If you think your business or website can benefit from using an API there are many ways to fine them. Websites like http://programmableweb.com and http://mashape.com list many different kinds of API services to assist with a wide variety of business related functionality.

APIs can either be public or private. For instance, openweathermap.com is a free API to obtain weather data. Also, Twitter™ and Google’s mapping API are public, well-documented and free. Other APIs, like those available from IDICIA, are private and can be accessed only using an API key, a kind of special password. IDICIA web services use Transport Layer Security (TLS) for all communications between client applications and the IDICIA servers. Each request to an IDICIA web service must include the key mentioned above that we assign to a user. This ensures our API only gives answers to those who have been authorized to receive the information and also keeps track of who made the request so we know whom to bill.

What do our APIs do?

IDICIA has many APIs. Some offer type of telephone verification; others offer ways to append a phone number to consumer data or consumer data to a phone number. Our Line Identification Append (LIA) API, mentioned above, is one of our most popular APIs and offers the ability to get information about the current telephone line associated to a phone number. For example, the LIA API can tell you the carrier to which a number is assigned (ATT, Verizon, Sprint, etc.), if the number was ported from one phone company to another, and, most importantly, if the number is connected to a wireless or landline device. The table below should give you an idea of info required and data returned.

As you can see, that’s quite a bit of information to come from just a phone number.

If you would like to hear about any of our other APIs, please reach out to us at 1.844.4IDICIA or info@IDICIA.com.