What is an API?

Let’s start with the actual definition, but I will give you an analogy that will help you understand it more clearly.

Here’s the definition.

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and tools that allows different software applications to communicate with each other.

Here’s a easy way to understand why it’s helpful.

Imagine a restaurant with a kitchen and a menu.

You, the customer, can’t go into the kitchen to cook, but you can order food from the menu.

The waiter takes your order, goes to the kitchen, and brings back your food.

In this case, the waiter is like an API.

You ask for something (place an order), and the API (waiter) brings back what you asked for, without you needing to know how to cook or what happens inside the kitchen.

With OpenAI’s API, you can request for the models to do many different things on your behalf including any task that requires understanding or generating natural language.

This is what ChatGPT does.

You can use the API to have it automatically generate code for you using your favorite model, for example GPT-4.

The OpenAI API can also be used to generate and edit images or convert speech into text.

The other advantage of using an API is that you can connect it with any other software you are using.

For example you can connect it to gmail and have it answer your emails.

You can connect it to your phone’s voice recorder and have the AI automatically transcribe your audio files and summarize them into bullet points.

Then you can have it take the action items and add them to your calendar app.