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Developers have enough to do as they attempt to make their companies’ applications stand out in app stores and even in the world of enterprise software. If they want to add complex features users will dig, like a tool for handling payments in the Bitcoin virtual currency, they can tap external services.

No wonder application programming interfaces (APIs), which provide access to data and tools, relating to Bitcoin grabbed lots of attention this year on the API-tracking site ProgrammableWeb.

Readers cruising the site have gravitated toward five categories of APIs more than any others. In addition to Bitcoin, translation, stocks, movies, and streaming APIs came out on top. That’s according to a year-end analysis the company released late last week.

It’s not a coincidence that such categories are getting more attention. These services can require massive amounts of computing power. Companies that don’t specialize in Bitcoin mining, for instance, can’t be bothered to deploy massive IT resources if they seek to make a bit of the virtual money on the side. So APIs become a viable option.


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Working with movies and stocks, too, can mean tapping lots of historical data and crunching numbers quickly across many physical machines. Movies, stocks, and streaming, writes ProgrammableWeb’s Eric Carter, “require massive sacle when it comes to data consumption and exceptional processing capabilities to keep an industry edge. APIs address both scalability and speed … .”

For example, the API from a company called PsychSignal gives up-to-date data on market sentiment about stocks. And Tinysong’s API shows places to stream songs on the Internet. Developers could build and maintain such services, but it might be better to just let those companies do the hard work instead.

The proliferation of Bitcoin APIs doesn’t come as a surprise. Producing Bitcoins has become more and more computationally intensive, and the alternative currency has grabbed a lot of attention, with investments in Bitcoin companies such as Coinbase only adding to the hype.

ProgrammableWeb’s directory contains 93 APIs with the Bitcoin tag, including Coinabul’s service for exchanging Bitcoins for gold and the CoinWarz service for seeing how profitable it is to mine different kinds of virtual currencies. Both APIs have made it onto ProgrammableWeb this month.

But more generally, ProgrammableWeb has seen its directory of all APIs just keep on growing. In September, it surpassed the 10,000 mark, and it now stands at 10,680.

At the same time, API management tools have become acquisition targets this year, and even ProgrammableWeb changed hands, going from telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent to data-integration player MuleSoft.

And with API growth not letting up, such central hubs in the API ecosystem should continue to be interesting to watch.

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