URL shortening website Bitly (renamed from Bit.ly) has announced that users will now have access to a social API, which includes three different services: a real-time search, attention spikes and URL metadata.

Introduced in 2008, Bitly has quickly become a popular service for those who need or want to shorten URLs. According to the website, it has over four million visitors and shortens over a million URLs per month. These new API services, which were announced on the company’s blog are designed to give users access to the site's analytics and "the best available content shared by people across all social networks.” While the Bitly Social API services are new, it isn't the only company working with APIs recently.

In August, Alcatel-Lucent a communications technology and services provider introduced a lifecycle methology for APIs, while a month earlier Facebook updated the beta version of its API service so that it would be fully integrated with Apple’s iOS 6. Towards the latter half of 2012, Decibel Technology introduced an Open API for its Web CMS system, which allows its product to expand beyond the typical basic CMS capabilities.

Bitly’s API

As was mentioned, with Bitly’s API service there are three specific services that are being offered:

  • Real-time Search: With this feature, users can search any specific or general topic from a person’s name to a description and in a matter of seconds get back stories on their query.
  • Attention Spikes: In addition to providing a real time search feature, Bitly has introduced an attention spike service, which acts as a highlighting tool. According to the blog post, the API tracks stories that are receiving a lot of attention or “bursts” and presents the results to users in real-time "story pages," so that they can see how the news developed.
  • Metadata about URLs: With this service, Bitly will analyze a URL’s content. Users can enter a query in the form of a keyword, topic, content language or location and receive metadata about the subject; making this a useful tool to those who build their applications on links.


an example of an Attention Spike

Social is the Word

While Bitly is primarily a link shortening tool, the introduction of this new API isn't the only change the company has made. In October 2011, it launched a search platform and reputation monitoring service specifically for viral content, and in May 2012 it introduced a bitmarks or bookmarks tool, a Chrome extension and iPhone app.