A Feeds API connects your frontend application to the backend of a service which manages a feed containing data from multiple sources in an application. If you have the need to aggregate news, ecommerce, or social media content from multiple sources into your application, you will be turning to either developing or using an existing third-party Feed A/PI.
Using a third-party feed API provider has numerous benefits for you as it eliminates the need for extensive resources to develop the backend infrastructure of the Feed. Third-party Feed APIs offer well documented API references and endpoints alongside with customer success teams ready to assist in the 'feed integration' process.
Incorporating an activity feed is an effective way to boost engagement in your app. This can lead to positive ripple effects such as enhancing user satisfaction and reducing churn rate if your app operates on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The concept is straightforward: you're incorporating user behavior – browsing and interacting with feeds – into your app. Studies have shown that users are more likely to stick with an app where they can engage with interesting content, rather than moving to another dedicated platform. In a productivity context, activity feeds provide a way for users to share regular updates and host contextual discussions about those updates.
An activity feed is a dynamic feature found within many apps and websites that provides a live, organized stream of updates and actions. These actions can include anything from social media updates to notifications about project tasks, and are regularly used by users to engage with an app and stay informed.
At its core, an activity feed is made up of various activity feed components. These are the building blocks that make up the feed, providing a structure for displaying information. Common activity feed components might include individual update cards or tiles, comments sections, like or reaction options, and sharing capabilities. Each component is designed to enable users to interact with the feed in a meaningful way, promoting user engagement and creating a sense of community within the app.
One crucial aspect of activity feed components is their design. Good activity feed design strikes a balance between functionality and aesthetics. It allows users to easily understand and interact with the feed, while also providing a visually appealing interface that fits seamlessly into the overall app design. This can often be achieved using pre-designed activity feed UI kits, which offer a set of customizable design components that can be easily integrated into the app.
Activity feed features provide the various functions that users have come to expect from a feeds experience. These features might include the ability to like or react to updates, comment on posts, share updates with others, and more. Some activity feeds might also offer advanced features, such as the ability to filter or sort updates, bookmark important posts, or receive push notifications about specific updates and posts.
The features of an activity feed can significantly impact user engagement and satisfaction. For instance, a feed that offers a wide range of interaction options might encourage users to spend more time in the app, interacting with updates and engaging with other users. On the other hand, a feed that lacks key features or is difficult to navigate might frustrate users and discourage them from using the app.
Activity feeds provide an attractive frontend that consumes the data from a feed backend service via an API supporting either the REST or GraphQL protocols. The feed backend includes the servers and databases to store and process the updates, alongside algorithms which determine what updates to display, in what order, and the APIs that enable the front-end components to interact with the backend systems.
Developing the software components for a feed is a complex process which requires careful planning and execution to ensure that the feed functions smoothly and efficiently. Feeds for modern applications have the need to incorporate machine learning models to provide enhanced features for data processing, content personalization and intelligent user content recommendations. Feeds also have the need for scalability and security as they provide data for large amount of users over extended periods and they require robust security measures to protect user data and prevent unauthorized access.
A news feed API serves as the conduit linking the front end of your application to the backend services that manage a news feed. This type of API provides a structured way to access, retrieve, and manipulate the data required to deliver a compelling, dynamic, and scalable newsfeed to your users. Whether your app serves millions of users or a small community, a news feed API combined with a powerful backend environment ensures the feed scalability necessary to handle the load.
If you’re familiar with social media you’ve no doubt interacted with a news feed. A news feed is the constantly updating list of stories or posts in the middle of your home page. It includes status updates, photos, videos, links, app activity, and likes from people, pages, and groups that you follow on the platform.
In that way, many social media companies operate more as news feed as a service. Combined with news scraping APIs and RSS feeds, user generated content can be interspersed with regular updates from reliable news services, which provides additional content to engage users.
What ties all of this together are the newsfeed components, the various elements that make up the news feed, including individual posts or stories, reaction buttons, comment sections, sharing options, and more. These components are designed to be interactive, encouraging users to engage with the content and other users, fostering a vibrant, active community within the app. Through the use of a news feed API, developers can easily manage these components, creating a personalized, engaging, and scalable news feed for their users.
You can see many activity feed examples across a range of digital platforms and applications, each providing a unique spin on presenting users with updates and interactions.
One common example is the feed on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Here, users are presented with a stream of content from their connections and followed pages or profiles, including posts, images, videos, and more. These feeds are dynamic, continually updated with fresh content to keep users engaged.
The home feed within project management tools such as Asana or Trello is another practical example of an activity feed. Here, the feed provides updates on the project’s progress based on changes made to the project. Changes such as tasks being marked as completed, new comments on tasks, changes to due dates or even new people being added to the project. These feeds are critical for keeping team members informed and aligned on project status.
An important factor to consider is relevance, high activity feed relevance means that the updates presented to users are of high importance and significance. For a feed to be engaging, it must provide updates that are relevant to the user's interests or needs. This is often achieved through algorithms that analyze user behavior and preferences to customize the feed content. For instance, a social media feed might prioritize posts from frequently interacted-with friends, while a project management feed might highlight updates on tasks that the user is assigned to. In this way, the relevance of an activity feed is pivotal to its success in engaging users and enhancing their experience within the app.
Whether you're developing an entirely new app or adding new features to an existing one, the engineering process could be expensive and time-consuming. However, if your need is to have an activity feed in your app, the easiest approach with the least Time-To-Market (TTM) is to buy into an existing feed API. Buying into an existing feed API allows you to tap into it’s functionalities without incurring extensive development or maintenance work. While some argue that the cost of an API may exceed in-house development, it's crucial to acknowledge scenarios where using an API is less time-consuming, more cost-effective, and more reliable than building everything from scratch.
When searching for a Feed API, you need to outline your product needs, then evaluate the features of each Feed API you find to know if their features will meet those needs. You also need to consider the following general aspects:
A Feeds API Provider is a third-party service that handles all the complexities of building and maintaining a chat server. These complexities includes automatically scaling the chat server or provisioning database and virtual machine resources to store data and run the backend applications respectively.
Developers integrate Feeds API providers into the frontend client of their product either through a Feeds API or Feeds SDK supported by the Feeds Provider. To minimize cost, Feeds API Providers use a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYUG) model to ensure that developers only pay for the resources their frontend clients consume.
An API is the communication protocol for interacting with a service. A Feeds API makes it possible for developers to integrate a chat server into their frontend clients and perform CREATE, RETRIEVE, UPDATE and DELETE (CRUD) operations on the chat resources created by the Feeds API Provider.
Developers access Feeds APIs over secure or encrypted HTTP connections through their REST or GraphQL endpoints and they require authentication to protect sensitive user data.
A Software Development Kit (SDK) contains lines of well-documented code for developers to use when building an application. In most cases, an SDK abstracts over an external API and provides easy-to-use methods or functions to interact with.
In a Feeds context, a Feeds SDK makes it less complex for developers to build a chat application as it abstracts over the Feed API and handles difficult aspects of working with the Feed API such as managing the API authentication state, request or timeout retries.
A chat API connects the front end of your app to the back end of either a fully functional chat server or an in app chat SDK. Though there are many practical benefits to using a chat API, the first and foremost is that using one removes staffing the required talent to handle the development of front end chat components, and the backend infrastructure required to create a smooth user experience. Most chat APIs also come with extensive documentation and access to customer success representatives who can assist your team with integrating in app chat as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Adding in app chat functionality to your app is a great way to increase engagement in your app, which in turn can have great knock-on effects such as increasing user satisfaction and reducing churn if your app or platform operates on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The reason for this is simple: you’re taking a behavior that users do every day, chat, and bringing that behavior into your app. Research has also shown that a user is more likely to keep using an app where they’re having an important conversation than they are to migrate that conversation to a dedicated messaging app.
Whether you’re developing a new app or iterating on an existing app, adding new features to your app can be expensive and time consuming. But if you need to add a chat component to your application, one of the easiest ways to do so is by using an in app chat API. An API is essentially a set of defined protocols and tools for building software and applications. By integrating an API, you can tap into deep functionalities without undertaking extensive development work. While there are arguments that suggest procuring an API might exceed the cost of in-house development, it is crucial to recognize situations where the use of an API proves less time-consuming, more economical, and inherently more reliable than building everything from the ground up.
When looking for an in-app chat api, it’s important to factor in a few things. The first is cost: there are several API providers who have in app chat APIs and SDKs, and all of them have different pricing models. Though some may offer attractive pricing tiers, they can often come with soft caps on usage that may lead to cost overruns. The next is functionality: though the fundamentals of chat remain the same across APIs, some are tuned for more specific usecases. As an example, one provider may prioritize chat for B2C consumer facing apps, while another may be more focused on chat features that are centered around community building.
The final thing to factor in is compatibility. Simply put: can the in app chat API play nicely with your app? Make sure that any API provider you’re evaluating has robust documentation for the tech stacks and programming libraries that your app utilizes. It’s also important that, if you’re not able to dedicate a full time front end UX designer to chat components, the API has compatible UI components. More often than not, commercial API providers offer a suite of UI kits written for the most in-demand frontend libraries, including React, JS, Swift, and Android SDK.
When exploring the functionality of a Chat API you should at the very least expect that it can handle real time direct messaging and group messaging. Functionality wise, direct messaging should provide a user experience that is similar to or, preferably, better than the user experience of sending text messages on a phone. A good direct messaging solution should provide users with a chat view that remains persistent and updates in real time as new messages are sent and received.
A group messaging experience should provide a similar experience, which also factors in the need to accommodate several different participants in a single conversation. That means providing a means for users to identify which users are sending what messages. There are a few ways to provide user identification, including name labels, user avatars, differently colored text boxes, or some combination of all three.
Finally, any chat API should provide a mechanism for push notifications to be sent to users when another user sends a message. There are several ways this can be handled, but one of the most common and simple integrations is to enable push notifications via a REST API. But that’s merely the bare minimum, if an API doesn’t provide those chat api features then it simply isn’t worth your investment.
What really sets different Chat APIs apart from each other is the quality of life features they offer. No two use cases are the same, but most users today expect to see at least the following: typing indicators, read receipts, and reactions. A properly enabled typing indicator allows a user to see when another user is currently drafting a message. Read receipts are exactly what they sound like, an indication that the other user in a chat has read a message sent to them. Some APIs go the extra mile and provide something called delivery receipts, which allow a sender to know that their message has been received, but not read. For privacy reasons, many Chat APIs allow users to determine whether or not they want to enable read receipts.
To give users a more media rich chat experience, many Chat APIs provide the ability to enable URL previews, which parse website metadata to give users a preview of links that have been placed in the chat. Another common chat api feature is media playback, which allows users to view images, watch video, or listen to audio files sent over chat. These features can usually be enabled out of the box, though some may have to be enabled through how you configure your chat API. To give users a more productive experience, some chat APIs and SDKs allow users to easily share custom zoom links or meeting links, so that they can easily convert a text conversation into a meeting.
A UI Kit (short for user interface kit) is a package of files designed to expedite the development of a user interface. UI Kits typically include important components such as fonts, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) or Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) stylesheets, and graphical elements such as containers, input controls, navigation controls, and icons. Most UI kits are compiled for specific programming libraries such as JS and React. Though there are several resources available to help you create your own custom messaging UI kit, this shouldn’t be necessary if your Chat API provider offers the chat UI kit that works with your favorite programming library and language.
When evaluating a messaging UI kit, you should be looking at functionality and flexibility. Functionality should come in the form of providing all the chat and messaging UI components your app requires, including things like message windows, send buttons, avatar placeholders, typing indicators, and read receipts. Flexibility comes in the form of styling. An UI kit only works for you if you can make it match the style of your app. This means you should be able to style any component of the kit however you need in order to create the most cohesive user experience.
If you want learn more about Chat APIs, read these resources: