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Photo by Kyle Mills Hall

When it comes to digital and mobile technology, an awful lot of acronyms get tossed around. Everybody just nods and smiles, but many of us don’t really know what all that jargon really means…and nobody wants to raise their hand and say, “Hey, what IS an API, anyway? What about an SDK?”

It’s understandable. If you don’t work with them every day, you don’t have much reason to know a lot about SDKs or APIs. We’re going to break them down for you in plain English, so at your next cocktail party or digital marketing meeting, you can throw around those acronyms like a boss (or at least a knowledgeable digital player).

What’s an API?

“API” stands for “application programming interface.” It’s an interface that specifies the way two applications or systems can interact with each other. It lays the ground rules for the conversation.

We all deal with APIs every day. For example, let’s say you’re hungry for pizza. When you open Yelp and search for “pizza,” the app sends a request to the back-end database, using the appropriate API. That request looks something like this: “getNearbyPOIForLatLong():”

The Yelp API requires certain parameters in your request so that the back-end system knows which data to return—latitude and longitude for your location, the search term (in this case, “pizza”), and a search radius (how far to search around your location). Now the Yelp database knows what information to retrieve, the app can display that info on a map or as a list, and you can get your pineapple anchovy pizza with extra olives ASAP.

What’s an SDK?

Pizza-Notification-Phone“SDK” is short for “software development kit.” It refers to a set of pre-written code, documentation and programming tools that developers can use as the foundation for creating new software applications. A mobile SDK is a kit designed specifically for creating apps for mobile devices.

Let’s say your neighborhood Pizza Plaza wants to build an app that incorporates push notifications—those little messages that pop up on your smartphone’s lock screen—to tell customers when their order is ready or when they’re running a special deal on calzones.

To enable this communication, the Pizza Plaza developer(s) might use Phunware’s push notifications SDK. The SDK would contain everything the developer needs to deliver the right message to the right recipient at the right time. Using Phunware’s SDK would make adding push notifications pretty much plug-and-play, saving Pizza Plaza’s dev team a lot of time and hassle.

The value of the SDK is that Pizza Plaza does not have to build all of the services associated with the functionality (in this case, push notifications). Instead, Pizza Plaza can focus on making delicious pizzas and running its business—not on app development.

Interested in learning more about these kinds of push notifications? Learn all about mobile marketing automation in our eBook: Mobile Marketing Automation: Why It Matters and How to Get Started.


What does all of this mean to you?

If you are considering building a mobile app (or having one built) for your business, SDKs and APIs are your friend. They can make the whole process much more efficient because a developer can use SDKs and APIs to add functionality without having to reinvent the wheel each time.

Here at Phunware, we can make you a custom mobile app from concept through completion. We also have pre-packaged SDKs that give your developers access to Phunware features. For example, our advertising SDK can be added to an existing app, giving it the ability to run ads from the Phunware Advertising network in part of the app’s real estate.

To sum it all up: an SDK helps you build the app. An API lets the app communicate with various web services to deliver really cool functionality. And Phunware is here to help. Get in touch to learn more!


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