Intelligent Calculations are a Hidden Gem for API Products

Adam DuVander
Dec. 17 2013, 08:00AM EST

Some APIs provide data. Others offer functionality. Many of the APIs developers pay for solve a big developer problem, often with infrastructure. A company’s own intelligent calculations are a great opportunity for consumers and providers alike that may not be an obvious avenue at first. Below are a few of many examples of these types of APIs to inspire your next project or maybe your company’s next product.

Full Contact

FullContact NameContact organization company Full Contact started as a single API. Now, in addition to its flagship address book product, it has a suite of APIs for delivering the insights behind a name, email address, or street address. For example, give it an email address and it will tell you everything it knows about the person behind the address: name, gender and links to social media site.

Alchemy API

AlchemyAPINatural language processing expert AlchemyAPI takes blobs of text and turns it into knowledge. It can find the keywords from within a blog post, or the sentiment of a support email. The API is such a big focus for this company, it's in the name.

Klout

KloutSocial scoring startup Klout makes its money by offering perks from advertisers who want to reach influencers. However, the company built on top of social APIs also provides an API of its own. Developers can access the Klout Scores behind many social network IDs using the Klout API. Behind that single number are many intelligent calculations.

Wolfram-Alpha

Wolfram Alpha Some of the most interesting thing Apple’s Siri does are really just calls to the Wolfram-Alpha API. For example, when Siri launched as an app, I asked it “how old is Mark Zuckerberg?” (less than 26 at the time).

All of the intelligent content examples I've shown (except Klout) are pay to play, but they all have free trials of their APIs. Wolfram-Alpha, however, has the lowest calls on the free tier, just 2,000 per month. It’s really just for testing and developers are expected to pay up for production apps.

Your Name Here

There’s a lot of room for more APIs as product companies, especially those providing intelligent calculations. Existing companies can also share their best insights as APIs. For example, taxi replacement app Uber found out its data can better predict the time a trip will take than existing services. The company built its own as an API for its own app. While it has not released that API publicly, Director of Engineering Curtis Chambers said it’s at the top of his list.

Twitter was borne out of a podcasting startup. You never know what will be the winner, so an offshoot of your core business could become a new revenue stream if you share your intelligent calculations via an API.

Adam DuVander is Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and Contributing Editor of ProgrammableWeb. Previously he edited this site and wrote for Wired. You can follow him on Twitter.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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