Difference Between API and Web Service

The pandemic has changed the world. Almost anything you name can now be done online be it the virtual raising of hands or the basic way businesses operate. This has been made possible because of the experienced software engineers and developers working behind the scenes to make this shift from offline to online possible. They do so by using tools such as API, web service, etc.

API vs Web Service

The main difference between API and Web Service is in the functions performed by both. API ensures seamless communication between two applications without having the users interfere. On the other hand, a web service is a bundle of various standards and open-source protocols that enable the smooth exchange of data between a myriad of applications or systems.

API vs Web Service

API refers to an application programming interface that comprises a set of protocols and definitions for the integration of application software. It is a great tool in app development, it saves both money and time. Using API, your product or service easily communicates with others of their kind without you having to do anything. API helps IT teams and businesses to collaborate by supporting change.

A web service is a piece of software that makes use of an XML messaging system to encode all pieces of communication with a web service. Web services can work on multiple operating systems. It includes messages, objects, programs, or documents. It makes use of open standards such as SOAP, HTML, etc.

Comparison Table Between API and Web Service

Parameters of ComparisonAPIWeb Service
PurposeIt helps in the interoperability of applications by acting as an intermediary between themIt aids in the interaction between two machines on the same network
Knowledge neededUsers who can understand either XML or JSON can use APIUsers who understand XML can use web services
TypeAn API doesn’t necessarily mean a web serviceA web service means an API
Network requirement for operabilityNetwork connection may or may not be requiredNetwork connection necessary
Hosted onIIS and selfIIS
Type of communication used forAny style of communicationREST,SOAP, XML-RPC

What is API?

API is the software intermediary that helps two applications interact with each other. The most common example of API use is while using Facebook to send messages to your closed ones.

While using an app on mobiles, the app gets connected to the internet and sends the required data to the server. The server in turn retrieves the information for us, interprets the same, and performs all the necessary actions which are then portrayed on the mobile phone. In this process, API is the one responsible for interpreting and presenting the information.

API also acts as an additional layer of security. With the use of API, only that information is shared from the phone to the server that is necessary for carrying out the required tasks. APIs also act as a valuable source of revenue for many businesses like Amazon, Google, Expedia, eBay, etc.

Present-day APIs perform various additional tasks as well. These are customized to meet the needs of particular audiences. Many more standardizations are now available which help in providing increased security and governance. API also has a software developments cycle comprising versioning, designing, managing, testing, and building. These are developer friends and can be understood more easily.

What is Web Service?

A web service is any application, software, or cloud technology that makes use of web protocols HTTP or HTTPS to exchange, connect, and interoperate data messages on the internet. It enables programs constructed in different languages to easily interact with each other with the exchange of data. Various functions performed by web services are as follows:

  • It can be accessed through the intranet or internet networks.
  • A standardized XML messaging protocol.
  • An independent programming language or operating system.
  • A web service is self-describing when XML standard is being used
  • It can be located through a location approach.

Web service makes use of open standards such as:

  • Extensible Markup Language for tagging data
  • Simple Object Access Protocol for transferring a message
  • Web Services Description Language to state a service’s availability

These open standards ensure that applications written in varied languages and programming can seamlessly connect with each other. Moreover, web services support document exchanges. Records as easy as talking to a current address or complex ones like talking to an entire book are performed by it. It establishes reconciliation by allowing a simple exchange of archives.

Because of the web services’ capability to be accessed through the HTTP protocol, you now just need an internet connection to get connected to a web service. It also regularly keeps a note of growing web benefit convention stacks.

Main Differences Between API and Web Service

  1. API acts as an intermediary between applications while web services act as the intermediary between machines on the same network.
  2. API supports HTTPS/HTTP protocol while web service supports only HTTP protocol.
  3. Internet may or may not be required for use of API. However, it is a necessity while using web services.
  4. An API is not a subset of web services, although, web services are a part of API.
  5. For use of API, users need to know either XML or JSON. On the other hand, for use of web services, only users who know XML can use web services.


Thus, API and web services play a crucial role. API is more of an interface that helps us to build on the original data of another application. On the other hand, a web service is a tool based on internet connectivity to fulfill the task at hand. As web services are a subset of API, you might find some similarities between the two, though they are not the same.

These mainly come in handy for the day-to-day tasks of developers who have to deal with them while developing applications. Both APIs and web services are crucial in app development.


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