As programmers, when we finish with our job, we like to, well, program. From Hackathons to side projects, we love building things outside of work. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to come up with ideas for what to make next. When that happens, it is often helpful to learn about new APIs to get inspired. That is why I put together the ultimate list of fun APIs you may not have heard of. Hopefully, checking out these APIs will give you your next idea for a fun side project. Or who knows, it might end up becoming the next Instagram!
If you aren’t familiar with APIs, API stands for application programming interface and is a way for two or more pieces of software to communicate. For example, Google has an API that allows you to get information about maps and Twitter has an API that lets you send tweets programmatically. Usually, an API usually has documentation that lets you know how to request information from it.
There are thousands of APIs for all sorts of different purposes. In this list, you will find APIs that do everything from guessing a person’s age based on their name to letting you trade stocks. So, without further ado, here are some awesome APIs you can use for your next coding project!
NASA provides a bunch of super exciting APIs for the public. They have an API called Astronomy Picture of the Day that returns a new picture from space each day, an API to get the weather on Mars, and an API just for Mars Rover photos.
Speaking of space, did you know Elon Musk’s SpaceX has an API? You can use the SpaceX API to get launch, rocket, core, capsule, Starlink, launchpad, and landing pad data.
With the REST Countries API, you can get information about the world’s countries. For example, you can send a query to get a country's language, currency, and capital—the REST Countries API is free and supported by donations.
If you want to incorporate weather into your app, you can check out the Open Weather API. You can use their API to get the weather for over 200,000 cities. You can also use the API to get access to historical weather data.
Do you need finance data for your next project? You can get all kinds of financial data from the Polygon.io API like stock quotes, historical data, and more. They also have an API to get information about cryptocurrencies.
Do you want to incorporate the news into your next app? Look no further than the Associated Press API. Their free API lets you access the news in real-time.
The COVID 19 API gives you access to all kinds of coronavirus-related data. Maybe you can build a project that will help save lives during the pandemic!
The Agify API is a fun API that tries to predict your age from your name. You don’t need an API key to get started, so you can just send a request with your name in it to find out how old their algorithm thinks you are.
With the Pokemon API, you can send a rest request with a Pokemon name, and it will send you a JSON response with their information. For example, here is how to send a request for Charizard:
Like the Agify API, you don’t need to register for an API key. You can type that request into your browser as is and get a response.
Kanye Rest is a free REST API for random Kanye West quotes (also known as Kanye as a service). Every time you visit the endpoint https://api.kanye.rest/, the API returns a new Kanye quote, like "You can't look at a glass half full or empty if it's overflowing." The API is free to use. The documentation suggests using it to spice up your Git commit messages, but the sky's the limit to what you can do with this data.
With the Bored API, you will never be bored again! When you send the Bored API a request, it returns a fun activity for you to do.
The Fun Translations API allows you to use several language APIs under one plan. Some of the many language APIs you get access to include the Yoda API, which translates English to Yodish, a Pig Latin API, and an API to translate Dothraki (from Game of Thrones).
The Balldontlie API allows you to access NBA-related data. For example, you can get a list of all of the NBA teams, information about specific games, player stats, and more. I’m a big basketball fan, so I may have to start a side project with this API myself.
Genius is a website that allows anyone to add annotations to song lyrics and other written text. For example, you can add comments to a song explaining why a verse is significant. With the Genius API, you can get data about songs, including song lyrics and annotations.
Bitcoin recently hitting record highs of 50 thousand dollars per coin has sparked renewed interest in cryptocurrency, so now is a great time to start a cryptocurrency-related side project. You can use their API to check the price of cryptocurrency, to buy it, and more.
Need to integrate a QR code into your next project? You can use QR Tag’s API to create a QR code quickly.
Google’s Cloud Natural Language API is one of many APIs in Google’s Machine Learning API family. Cloud Natural Language API “provides natural language understanding technologies to developers, including sentiment analysis, entity analysis, entity sentiment analysis, content classification, and syntax analysis.”
Another API I want to highlight is the Clarifai API, which you can use for machine vision. Out of the box, the API can recognize over 11,000 concepts like dogs, cats, etc. This technology is fantastic, and I can imagine so many different side projects you could create with this.
The Eventbrite API lets you find different events and information about them, like their capacity, pricing, and more. Since I recently became a developer advocate and am trying to speak at as many events as possible, I’m starting to think about different ways to use this data myself.
Side projects can always benefit from graphs. Whatever your side project is, adding a few graphs is always fun. You can use the Quickchart API to quickly add bar graphs, pie graphs, and more to your next side project.
In my intro to programming book and Udemy course, I rely on teaching aspiring coders how to create games to keep them interested. Building different card games are a great way to develop your programming skills, especially if you’ve run into a roadblock on what to make next. The Deck of Cards API allows you to implement a deck of cards into your program without having to code them yourselves and is an excellent way for new programmers to practice using APIs.
The Website Screenshot API lets you programmatically grab screenshots from a website. I’m not sure what you would do with this, but I feel like there is a lot of potential to build a fun side project with it.
The Open Library APIs will provide you with all the information about books you will ever need. They have an API for books, covers, book lists, and more.
You can use the GitHub Jobs API to get information about all of the jobs on GitHub’s jobs board.
With this API, I’m saving the best for last! I recently became a developer advocate for Vonage, and I am having a ton of fun playing with our APIs. Vonage has an SMS API that lets you send text messages in just a few lines of code, a voice API that allows you to make calls, and a bunch of other awesome APIs. I recently used Vonage’s APIs to create a side-project called Songagram where you can pick a song and give a friend’s phone number, and the program will scrape the lyrics, call your friend, and read them the lyrics.
Hopefully, this list gave you some inspiration for your next coding project. After researching APIs for this list, I am especially excited about The Cloud Natural Language API, the Coinbase Digital Currency API, the Associated Press API, the EventBrite API, and of course, the Vonage APIs. I’m interested in building something that combines several of them. Perhaps a program that uses the Cloud Natural Language API to analyze the news and trade cryptocurrency based on its sentiment. Or maybe I will use the Eventbrite API to write code to find tech events I might want to speak at and alert me with a text using Vonage’s SMS API when it's time to submit my proposed speech.
Whether you are excited about the same APIs as I am or are more interested in other APIs on the list, with all of these excellent APIs to choose from, it is such an exciting time to be a programmer!
Do you need even more inspiration? Check out The Ultimate List of Ideas for Your Next Hackathon.
Best of luck with your next coding project!