As part of the upcoming Mashable Awards, we’re taking a closer look at each of the nomination categories. This is “Best Use of an API.” Be sure to nominate your favorites and join us for the Gala in Las Vegas! Sponsorships are available. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Application programming interfaces, better known as APIs, let third-party developers utilize the power of web platforms like Facebook and Twitter to create amazing applications and features on top of them. By tapping into the Twitter streams, Facebook Likes, or YouTube playlists of millions of people, startups and independent developers are creating some incredibly innovative apps.
We wanted to take a little time to highlight some interesting apps that really demonstrate what you can do with a great API and some elbow grease. While there are thousands of apps worth recognizing for their innovative use of an API, we can only highlight a few here today.
Here are five of the most innovative uses of a social API. If you want to learn more about APIs, we suggest reading our piece on the evolution of the social API.
1. WeePlaces (Foursquare’s API)
Enter Weeplaces, a service built by the Movity team that visualizes all of your Foursquare checkins across the world. The moving timeline lets you see when and where you’ve checked in over time. It’s also a fantastic tool for figuring out where you spend most of your time
Movity isn’t done with Foursquare’s API, either. They recently launched Ratio Finder, which visualizes the ratio between male and female checkins at locations in San Francisco and New York.
2. FriendShuffle (Facebook & Twitter’s API)
FriendShuffle is a very simple app to use, but that’s what makes it so powerful. By connecting it to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, you can kill a few hours by “shuffling” through the links your friends are sharing.
It’s nowhere near as powerful as StumbleUpon or Flipboard, but it is an effective use of Facebook’s Open Graph API to really tap into what’s hot on the social web, and specifically, across your social graph.
3. YouTube Instant (YouTube’s API)
Only two days after Google Instant was revealed to the world, a computer science student from Stanford University, Feross Aboukhadijeh, decided to create an “instant” version of YouTube.
With just a day or two of coding and a great API, anyone can create a viral app like Aboukhadijeh.
4. Paper.li (Twitter’s API)
Information overload is a serious problem in the social web, and there are a lot of companies trying to tackle the problem. One of them is Paper.li, a service that organizes the links shared on Twitter into mini-newspapers.
The app is simple — just connect it to your Twitter account or choose a keyword or Twitter list as the basis of your new newspaper. Paper.li will then generate a summary of the most popular and relevant links based on your keyword or friend list, and it wil be updated every day, week or month, depending on your preference.
With just a few APIs, Paper.li has figured out a smart way to curate the most popular links on the web.
5. #NewTwitter (Twitter’s API)
Yes, the most popular user of the Twitter API is none other than Twitter itself, through its new version of Twitter.com.
Wait how does this make any sense? Isn’t Twitter the source of its own API?
The New Twitter is unique among all of the social media juggernauts because its interface is built entirely off of its own API. That’s right; Twitter.com uses the exact same APIs that TweetDeck, Seesmic and thousands of Twitter apps utilize to make their apps function. It also doesn’t hurt that the New Twitter is an improvement from the old interface in almost every single way.
The New Twitter is one of the best examples of being your own best customer, and that’s why it tops off our list of innovative uses of an API. But now we want to hear your thoughts; what apps do you think are being innovative with their usage of APIs? Let us know in the comments.
The Mashable Awards Gala at Cirque du Soleil Zumanity (Vegas)
In partnership with Cirque du Soleil, The Mashable Awards Gala event will bring together the winners and nominees, the Mashable community, partners, media, the marketing community, consumer electronics and technology brands and attendees from the 2011 International CES Convention to Las Vegas on Thursday, January 6, 2011. Together, we will celebrate the winners and the community of the Mashable Awards at the Cirque du Soleil Zumanity stage in the beautiful New York New York Hotel. The event will include acts and performances from our partner Cirque du Soleil Zumanity. In addition, there will be special guest presenters and appearances.
Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011 (during International CES Convention week)
Time: 7:00 – 10:00 pm PT
Location: Cirque du Soleil Zumanity, New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas
Agenda: Networking, Open Bars, Acts, Surprises and the Mashable Awards Gala presentations
Socialize: Facebook, Foursquare, Meetup, Plancast, Twitter (Hashtag: #MashableAwards)
Thanks to our sponsors:
Mashable Awards Gala Partner:
From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now a global entertainment organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. The company has over 5,000 employees, including more than 1,200 artists from close to 50 different countries.
Cirque du Soleil has brought wonder and delight to nearly 100 million spectators in 300 cities on five continents. In 2010 Cirque du Soleil, will present 21 shows simultaneously throughout the world, including seven in Las Vegas.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com
Mashable Awards Online Partner:
The Fresh Diet is like having a Cordon Bleu chef prepare your meals in your own kitchen. There’s no cooking, cleaning, shopping – just fresh prepared delicious meals, hand delivered to your door daily! Whether you want to lose weight or just want to eat healthy, The Fresh Diet can help you meet your goals. The best news, we’re giving away a FREE week of The Fresh Diet every day on our Facebook page. Just click here to become a fan and you could be the next winner. Join now!
Mashable Awards Gala VIP Lounge sponsor:
Influxis specializes in the deployment of creative streaming solutions. Services include large scale deployment, mobile streaming, turn-key applications, and enterprise support with custom network options. With the unique combination of a worldwide network, knowledgeable developer support and nearly a decade of streaming media experience, Influxis is an essential partner to businesses, advertisers, developers, educators, and others who seek expertise in innovative streaming.
Sponsorships are available. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Image courtesy of Flickr, nhuisman
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