Video API (Application Programming Interface) is an interface that provides a secure and standardized way for two applications to communicate and transfer video content with each other. A video API is an application programming interface that allows you to create, store, and deliver video. Many video APIs also include a way for you to retrieve analytics about the videos and livestreams you show viewers. The benefit of a video API is that it’s completely flexible, you’re able to develop the API for any use case you want.
The key difference between a video streaming API and OVP is the abstraction layer in which they operate. An abstraction layer hides complexity of a system, and the higher the layer, the more it hides. OVPs operate at a varying levels of abstraction often offering very high levels of abstraction, such as a CMS, mixed with intricate technical details all combined into the same collection of APIs.
Sometimes a video API focuses on one element of the video creation and delivery process. For example, a video API might only handle livestreaming. Or it might only transcode videos for use elsewhere. So Video APIs can include a wide variety of services for example
- Video streaming API
- Video platform API
- Video player / Client-side APIs
A video streaming API provides three core services:
- Encoding: Video compression so it’s viewable over the web.
- Storage: The API provider will usually store a copy or a master of your videos.
- Delivery: Video delivery is optimized through CDNs so your users get the best experience.
It essentially takes care of the backend technical decisions so you can focus on building the product. These APIs do not require you to use a specific player or CMS, giving you full control over both.
Video player / Client-side APIs
Another type of video API you might run into are client-side video APIs. When you need to play back video in a browser or on a device, you’ll use these APIs to display video content to the user. Client-side video APIs operate at both high and low levels of abstraction depending on the control level you need over the playback experience. Most pre-packaged video players you could use will also have their own APIs–these players will leverage the lower-level video APIs on a device and provide you with a higher level of abstraction. Video player APIs include features like * The ability to make the video being played downloadable or not
- Video resolution options
- Autoplay or no autoplay, video looping once it reaches the end or no looping
- Logo – add your own branding
- Colors – add your brand’s colors, or your favorite colors if you want
- Content type being played – some types of videos need additional support in your player, for instance 360° or immersive video
- Monetization – some video players offer the ability to monetize content by placing ads at the start of the content or in the middle or end
This covers the basics of what’s in a typical end-to-end video API. Many video APIs only handle one or two of the features described.