SDK vs API: What’s the Difference? [Which One To Choose]

Building an application or website seems a difficult job for developers who are expected to maintain each and every junction in app/software. There are terms yo

SDK vs API: What’s the Difference? [Which One To Choose]

Sep 30, 2022 3:05 AM - Jack Dalton

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Image credit: Mikhail Fesenko

Building an application or website seems a difficult job for developers who are expected to maintain each and every junction in app/software. There are terms you might have heard of (e.g., coding language, SDKs, API, domain, etc.), but still, maybe the difference between any two of them is pretty inexperienced for you.

More often, beginner developers show their general confusion while differentiating an SDK from API. What are these two terms? Their purpose? How do they work? Which one goes perfect for my project? And, why pick them?

No doubt that API is not unknown these days. From startups to multinational businesses, each side has UX based dependency on APIs to make their presence reliable and user-friendly. But many say, SDK also shows the same functions for achieving the same thing. However, the actual explanation drives in-depth information regarding differentiation factors existing between SDK and API.

So, instead, you pick the wrong option while developing the main software/application for business progressors; let's figure out SDK vs. API to identify their needs in development routes further.

[The main focus is to help you understand the fundamental differences between SDKs and APIs. The working mechanisms of both terms, importance in development, and benefits will also be explained in detail so that using them confidently will be possible without conferring doubting deals.]

What Is An Api?

“API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a set of specific commands used to communicate two or more servers within the same application/software.”

APIs are primarily responsible for adding specific functions in a previously built application inflow and are fully functional. Also, you can use multiple APIs at the same time while developing applications without hurting other procedures running alongside. Payment methods, maps, multiple language buttons, and email transmission to user email accounts could be automated with one-time implementation of these functional-specific application interfaces.

In short, you don't have to write the same code again and again for landing a particular function multiple times. An API integrated for that particular work will entertain each call with the same pace, accuracy, and data. That's why APIs are called the best time-saviors for developers, as they limit extra coding effort by providing prebuild code commands and make software lightweight, hence responsive.

Api Use Cases

To understand where to use APIs in applications and websites, you don't need to find examples by going long distances. Just open any app on your phone and look over its outbound features such as shipping, payment, address tracking, etc.

You will love the presence of API in today's development infrastructure because adding value in applications will dramatically magnet users like an innate marketing approach. Hence, your 101 marketing techniques to invite users for downloading applications would partially be covered if the backend has a less coding mess. It reduces the app's weight as well as optimizes it at 360-degree.

We can straightforwardly say: “APIs are in demand until Mobile Applications are being developed.”

Why Are These Applications So Popular?

If we give you the massive crowd's number of mobile applications, which is still growing, only the Apple App Store has more than 1.96 million mobile applications available for download. And what we're doing with these apps? Out of our total mobile time, nearly 88% we spend on using and exploring applications we downloaded.

So yes. There's no denying that APIs have a direct hand in developing each application, and this trend is not going to bend or be tied.

How An API Works?

An API's mechanism of controlling a call from the user to a server is an interesting fact to understand.

Let's take an example of a financial website responsible for giving users complete financial information of all companies in a particular region or maybe the global financial data. This is undoubtedly a time-consuming and hectic task that can put workers blunt in their action capacity if manually done.

However, finance APIs can be used in areas where proper information of debts, shares, and profitability could be shared.

For example, Finance Modeling Prep is a RESTful finance API, available with a free subscription, and provides long-term assistance in extracting valuable data. Suppose any user asks to show him the complete annual report of a specific company he requires. In that case, the FMP API command will send messages out of the website's boundaries to an external database where these reports are shared. After receiving this specific call from API, the dataset server will redirect that one financial report to the user.

Hence, a particular question gets a particular answer without bothering with other explanations.

What Is An SDK?

SDK, aka Software Development Kit, is a package of all necessary tools and techniques required to develop software and programs functional for particular platforms.

The term “kit” denotes the ability to propose more than one tool for making a portion of the software or the entire structure done. Therefore, an SDK mainly consists of APIs, libraries, documentation, and associated utilities, building blocks of a properly functioning system. Companies of each size can also compose a premade SDK format for giving it to their developers. This can turn all of them working on the same technology, using the same tool kit.

It's also a critical point to note that not only one but hundreds of functions can come from an SDK integration. We can also say that SDKs are not function-specific. They are platform-specific. For instance, to develop iOS applications, iOS SDK would facilitate the developing process, not Android. Similarly, the tools provided by SDK have all possibilities and solutions stored to upgrade an iOS app that Android can't do.

Still, compensation with SDKs is somehow complicated compared to using an API, which can simultaneously adjunct in both android and iOS applications.

Sdk Use Cases

Devkit or SDK has multiple use cases. It can be used for various adjustments within an application. Because the platform has a mandatory statement to be specified in SDK case, therefore its addition could come as follows:

Developing Customer Agent Apps

By giving a custom agent app, you can grow the potency of your clients and assist them in providing a robust user experience. You will be capable of modifying the app to your specific agent regulations and support your agents with the duty of managing user synergies of any course. You will be handy to develop the UX, establishing your individual see-and-sense, and uniting nearly to the remaining applications operating on your agent's system. The platform SDK can be used here.

Similar to platform SDK, hundreds of other SDK types are available, specific to make applications running on particular platforms. Including cloud SDK, which is specialized to support the google cloud platform, many possess their suitable field of specified app development.

How Does An Sdk Work?

Doesn't it sound cool when you're working with a kit and not with an individual tool? How much ease can you feel when a bucket of valuable tools is placed beside you when you come for a special kind of fishing?

In the same way, the toolset of car mechanics could not fix the problems in an aircraft. Because their platforms are not the same. One platform is a road while another one is air. Just relate these observations from around with SDK definition. It explores that the working mechanism of SDK requires a specific platform, such as android, iOS, Cloud, etc., to turn all of its tools to perform their functions.

An SDK could be as simple as an API OR as complex as the backend of a country's record. Therefore, their implementation sometimes involves two to three components. In some cases, a kit is flooded with multiple APIs, libraries, documentation, and other utilities, depending on the width and chart of the application.

What Is The Difference Between An Sdk And An Api?

As discussed, API SDK difference in the above explanation, which states that both API and SDK are similar in driving functionality in applications. Therefore, they exhibit too many things in common, making it difficult to differentiate both of these terms. However, SDK is more relevant to API as it comprises more than one API for performing different specified functions. In contrast, API could not be related to SDK as it is smaller in function than SDK.

APIs are used to allow developers to add advance points in applications, and for accessing them, documentation and presentation of code are required. On the other hand, SDK doesn't bother one function-specified deal as it comes as a set of tools that can be platform-specific. Once the SDK is integrated with the application's backend, the procedure of compiling all operations and functions comes aligned under an automated command. It stores complete information of developing websites.

In short, API acts as an integral part of SDK, and SDK offers more than one API simultaneously. Hence, SDK saves more developing time, reduces more weight of code, and imparts better user interaction points to enhance the application's productiveness.

API vs SDK: In Simple Words

If you're required to make the API vs. SDK concept easy for the non-technical community, how will you elaborate it in a digestible way?

Well, there's nothing back-breaking to carry this differentiation to the ordinary person's understanding. One can suppose an application in place of a multinational manufacturing company. SDK liabilities are supply chain management, inter-management of employees, trans-border supply of goods, and communication between retailer and manufacturer. These all are crucial things; without them, the company could not proceed and earn profit. It means SDK is responsible for handling some prominent tasks being handled at priority in the company.

In comparison, only the section of two-way communication between retailers and manufacturers is the role of an API within the application or company.

This comparison highlights the dedication of SDK and API delivered to maintain the application's overall performance. It's also cleared that only an API cannot make the entire application function.

Comparison of SDK vs API

Faster Time To Market

Faster time to market means consumers or users give you better reviews on their exceptional interaction with the application/website. SDK and API tend to reduce code weight, make backend lighter, and induce more functionality in software/app.

Cost Savings

API, if used individually, can for sure limit the developmental effort and ultimately provide ease to recruiters to manage specified tasks under a pocket-friendly budget. On the other hand, SDK comes a bit more costly than APIs but has triple the time ease to provide to developers. It comes with everything prebuilt in the form of tools that developers use during development.


Both API and SDK add the reliability factor to applications. Due to API use cases (e.g., maps, shipping, calendar, etc.). Comparatively, SDK being platform-specific, provides a professional touch to each component of apps.

Sdk And Api: ​​right Option For Your Needs?

Development is a job type in which nothing is required to build from scratch, and you can insert an API to impart a specific or required function. This is used to be mainly done to upgrade previously existing applications and while allotting them durational revolutions. But if you're required to work only on a specific platform's application, go for owning an SDK that comes with all the necessary tools prebuilt. It reduces the efforts demanded to develop an app from zero and further raises the reliability of apps.

Final Words

To comprehend why API is useful and SDK is not, you first need to answer what makes them worthwhile. Can only SDK not work well on your side as it contains all ingredients required to stand and run an application perfectly? Why did you only use some specified APIs instead of using a kit with more than one category of APIs?

These questions create conflict with the title of “API vs. SDK,” and to define it more deeply, the understanding from definition to their uses in the real world is essential. It has been declared that APIs have possession to install some specified functions in the overall application's functions. Comparatively, SDK contains a number of tools that facilitate the overall app building process, but for specified platforms.

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