Jun 20, 2011
Why do services provide APIs, or Application Programmer Interfaces? So that services can be expanded beyond the service’s original intent. Look at Twitter in particular; developers and users have evolved the platform far beyond whatever Twitter ever did. 3rd party apps helped make the service into what it is today. What APIs also provide is a way for services to expand on to new platforms that the services themselves may not be able to provide immediately. One such example is Freelancer.com,a website for posting freelance jobs across a wide variety of fields. They do not currently provide mobile apps for their services (there is another Freelancer app on the Android Market, but it doesn’t appear to be an official app, and is being reamed by user reviews), but they do offer an API so developers can leverage the site and service in interesting ways.
One developer, Dharmin Majmudar, took a look at the API, and decided to make a series of apps for Android to access the Freelancer.com service. The apps allow for the viewing of profiles, user profile editing, as well viewing of user feedback. Projects can be viewed, searched, and even posted straight from the app. As well, messages can be viewed and sent. The app also claims to offer a feature that even the website itself doesn’t offer: the ability to bookmark users and projects for easy viewing later.
Freelancer.com comes in two flavors for Android: a full-featured version that is currently on sale for $1.00, and a free version that offers a 2-day full-fledged trial. While APIs are a volatile thing to work with; just see how Twitter is trying to shoo developers away from building traditional Twitter clients as they expand their range of official apps on platforms. However, some users will always be on the lookout for other apps on platforms to access services, which is the strength of apps built on APIs. 3rd party Twitter clients are still quite alive and kicking across a variety of mobile platforms despite Twitter’s official apps, for example. There will always be room for 3rd party apps. Freelancer.com by Dharmin Majmudar is available on the Android Market right now in both free trial and full version form.