5 Upcoming API Trends

August 27, 2022

Application programming interfaces (APIs) have been around for several decades now, and today more and more complex functionality is being stuffed into these tools. Today we’ll introduce 5 upcoming trends that we think will drive the future of the API and software industry.

1. AI and Machine Learning APIs

With billions of dollars in funding and endless hype, the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) sector is one of the hottest trends in tech.

AI is being integrated into all the products we love and use everyday, and this trend will likely continue as new research makes its way into industry every year.

Naturally, one of the simplest and most effective ways to provide AI and ML technologies is through APIs. Startup companies like Clarafai are offering their latest deep-learning computer vision models through APIs as a product, and tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are also providing more and more natural language processing and computer vision APIs through their respective cloud computing platforms.

In the upcoming years we’ll likely see this trend continue as more and more companies offer the latest and greatest in AI and ML via APIs.

2. Low/No-code

Low-code and No-code products and services are making their way into the mainstream market. They are not only enabling less tech-focused individuals (e.g. product managers, business analysts, executives) to achieve technical results, but also legitimately saving engineering time and resources in existing engineering teams at larger organizations.

A well-known example of this adoption is Doordash, the food delivery behemoth with over 6,000 employees. Doordash employs thousands of software engineers to build out its delivery scheduling algorithms, mobile apps, and internal infrastructure, but it is also well-known for using low-code software like Retool for its operational tools.

Under the right circumstances, using low/no-code tools like drag-and-drop editors can be extremely efficient, and with the double promise of delivering value to less tech-savvy professionals and saving engineering time, this trend is likely here to stay.

But how does the rise in popularity of low/no-code relate to APIs? For starters, many developers hate writing integration code. Whether it’s interfacing with a simple external API or performing a deep integration with a business partner’s private SDK, some amount of integration work needs to be done to make sure everything goes smoothly. Many engineers dislike this work and some will go so far as to abandon external integrations completely to avoid it.

With low/no-code, however, integrating with an API can be as easy as drag and drop on a visual editor. Many APIs (especially ones from API Ninjas) are designed with a simple interface - perhaps a few endpoints with no more than 10 parameters each - in mind, so it’s entirely conceivable to package those API requests into a visual editor.

3. API Microservices

Another trend picking up steam is API microservices. Microservices are modular components of larger applications (this design is often called microservices architecture), and more and more developers are using APIs to enable these microservices.

APIs work well with microservices because they enable safe and reliable communication between different microservices within an application. For example, if a payment processing microservice needs to request a user ID from a user authentication service, it can simply make an API call to the authentication service.

APIs help abstract implementation details of each microservice from other microservices, thereby reinforcing the modular design aspect of the microservice architecture and better enabling development teams to work on different microservices in parallel.

4. API Products

Historically, companies often offered APIs to developers as an auxiliary service to access and engage with their core products. Companies like eBay, Facebook, and Twitter all have a large user base using their APIs, and these APIs are easily accessible and often free.

In the last decade, however, API-first technology companies have emerged victorious with this new business model. Companies like Twilio, Segment and Scale have all built their core products as APIs, demonstrating that the developer market is alive and thriving.

Many API-first businesses will likely target the business-to-business (B2B) sector since companies typically have more money to spend on software than individual developers. Many of these businesses will use a monthly/annual subscription or pay-as-you-go payment model.

With API products, the need to find product-market-fit becomes more important than ever. There are only so many developers in the world, and a whole industry of IT and dev ops startups are competing for the same users.

5. API Security

Since the Covid-19 pandemic businesses large and small have increased their online presence, and as they uploaded their valuable data online hackers exploited vulnerabilities in their systems to steal the data.

As a result, more and more businesses are beefing up their cybersecurity, and since APIs are often responsible for sending key digital assets and data to unknown (and potentially nefarious) third-party users, API security has been a focus for many cybersecurity professionals.

Security in general is a game of cat and mouse. Hackers find vulnerabilities, companies patch them, hackers find other exploits, and so forth. As long as APIs continue to remain popular, the need for API security will not dwindle.