Software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs) are both tools used by developers to integrate external services into their applications. But they function differently. Understanding when to use an SDK versus an API can help you choose the best option for your project.
SDKs and APIs both allow you to tap into backend services by making calls to their exposed interfaces
While they aim to achieve similar outcomes, how they operate under the hood differs. Weighing the pros and cons of each approach will guide you in deciding which makes more sense for your use case. Evaluating factors like complexity, control, and convenience will inform your decision.
SDKs provide a higher abstraction by handling lower-level implementation details. APIs expose specific endpoints that your app calls directly. With SDKs, the messy work has already been wrapped up for you in easy-to-use libraries.
Convenience vs Control
SDKs offer convenience by abstracting away complexities into simple function calls. But with APIs, you control all aspects of integration such as endpoint URL construction, headers, parameters, and retry logic.
Language Specific vs Language Agnostic
SDKs are built in specific languages to integrate cleanly with your codebase. APIs are generally language-independent and communicate using common protocols like HTTP/REST.
Local vs Remote Execution
SDKs encapsulate much of the execution logic locally within helper libraries. APIs perform the bulk of their computation on remote servers.
Benefits of SDKs
SDKs reduce integration effort through clean abstractions with easy-to-use interfaces. Reusable libraries handle lower-level logic so you avoid boilerplate code.
Tighter Platform Integration
Developed by platform providers, SDKs are seamlessly integrate with native ecosystems. Optimization for specific languages and frameworks improves performance.
Stability & Reliability
SDKs offer stability with robust underlying implementations that are tested extensively. They handle edge cases and failures gracefully.
Quick Start for Developers
Get up and running faster by tapping into rich SDK capabilities vs building from scratch. SDKs help user to jumpstart the development easier.
Benefits of APIs
Flexibility & Control
Fine-grained control over all request parameters, payloads, headers, URLs, retry logic, etc. You customize integration precisely.
Language & Platform Agnostic
Leverage APIs from any language or platform that supports standard protocols like HTTP, REST, and WebSocket.
Smaller lightweight footprint vs embedding an entire SDK. Avoids bloating your app with unneeded code.
Backwards & Forwards Compatibility
Evolve APIs over time across versions while maintaining backwards compatibility for older clients.
Choosing between SDKs and APIs involves tradeoffs around abstraction vs control and simplicity vs flexibility. Understanding these differences allows developers to pick the best approach for their needs.
Amity recognizes the unique benefits and use cases of both SDKs and APIs. That’s why Amity provides its social capabilities through native SDKs for simplicity and tight platform integration, as well as flexible APIs for customizability and cross-platform support.
With Amity, you get the best of both worlds. The Amity Social Cloud SDKs for iOS, Android, and React Native make adding social features like profiles, feeds, chat, livestreams, and more a breeze. Amity handles the complexities behind the scenes while you focus on creating amazing user experiences.
If you prefer more control over your integration or need to support multiple platforms, Amity’s robust APIs have you covered. Flexibly add social magic to your web, mobile, game, or any other platform with REST, iOS, and Android APIs.
Amity provides these fully-featured SDKs and APIs so developers have all the tools they need to integrate social experiences easily and flexibly. With Amity’s suite of social building blocks, you can create engaging connections through profiles, feeds, chat, live-streaming, and more.
Experience the difference of social infrastructure designed for simplicity and scale. Whether you prefer the ease of Amity’s SDKs or the flexibility of Amity’s APIs, we have you covered. With Amity, integrating powerful social capabilities is fast, simple, and fun!