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I am looking to make a mobile application (iOS and Android app) that will interact with a website. The app will need to log in with a provided username and password and also get some information from the website.

I have no access to the website other than that of any other user. The idea is to simplify, automate and make a complicated task easier to complete for the everyday user.

Any examples or suggestions on how to do this will be appreciated.

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Any programmatic access to a web resource involves an API. As implementations differ, you may hear different terms: REST, SOAP, web service.

  • If you're developing the website yourself, create an API.

  • If the website is developed by a different team within your company, ask them to create an API. Discuss with them precisely your needs and draft together the interface.

  • If the website is created by a different company, again, contact the owner asking for an API.

An API will have several benefits compared to a direct access to the interface of the website:

  • It never changes. It can become obsolete, but you won't see subtle changes like the ones which happen to the user interface of most web application.

  • It is usually faster than HTTP requests to the website pages themselves.

  • It contains features which are not necessarily easily done using a web interface, such as transparent authentication (for example in SOAP services).

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