Deciding between an SDK and an API is critical in modern software development. SDK and API enable developers to add features and functionalities to their software faster. However, their capabilities and how they work on the backend differ.

What’s an SDK?

SDK stands for "Software Development Kit." It is a set of tools, including a library of APIs, that provides a software developer with the necessary components to build applications for a specific platform. SDKs are for a particular platform or programming language.

Android and iOS SDKs are platform-specific SDK examples. .NET and Python SDKs are programming language-specific SDK examples.

SDKs provide access to pre-built libraries and tools. Thus, enterprises save time and resources during development. SDKs also ensure that an application works correctly on a specific platform, as an SDK includes the necessary APIs and other components to access platform-specific features and functionality.

What’s an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a set of rules and protocols that allow applications to communicate with each other. APIs transfer data or functionality among applications.

APIs provided by social media platforms allow developers to access data such as user profiles, posts, and images.

Unlike SDKs, APIs follow a standard flow. An application using API is called a client application. It sends an API endpoint of a 3rd party service a request, which can be for functionality or information. The 3rd party service provider processes the request and communicates the result to the client application. Let’s take a transcription functionality request as an example. A client application sends a request with voice data, and a 3rd party service converts voice data to text on its platform, and then sends the text to the client application.

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