How does Amazon Dash prove the API economy?
Test and Monitor | Posted April 03, 2015

When APIs are present in every corner of your home, computers begin to look a bit passe.

It's an obvious progression, right? Amazon now ships certain subscription items like laundry detergent, lotion, breakfast bars, and other replenishables with a cute little plastic button the size of a key chain accessory. You press it, and a new order of that thing is immediately placed. It doesn't get simpler. Instant consumerist karma.

Imagine what it's like to press this button

Imagine you are doing laundry, and notice that the detergent bottle is light, close to running out. Normally, you would just think to yourself “I should get more detergent” and hopefully remember to add it to the grocery list. Most of us would forget this before leaving the laundry room. Amazon Dash solves this problem; a button you can put right ON the washing machine and just hit whenever you need to order more detergent! When you do, through Amazon Prime, the detergent arrives at your doorstep in a day or two, no need for messy online shopping.

Behind the scenes is a carnival of technology including your Amazon account, your home WiFi and internet service, their RESTful web services called the Dash Replacement Service (DRS), their massive distribution network, and all sorts of other infrastructure components connected with APIs. But just think about what that cheap little button on things in your life means; what has changed for people in the connected world?

A) your house is now a personalized convenience store

B) your computers and devices begin to feel like overkill

C) you don't have to remember to put special items on the grocery list anymore

D) people can now interact with Amazon without a desktop computer or mobile device

This could be really great, especially for the API economy, but for most people the implications have yet to sink in. A physical product is often just what non-technical consumers need understand the value of a back-end service. Likewise, devices which are "baked", meaning that they just function the way you shipped them, require solid APIs that maintain a high standard of reliability and backwards compatibility. And like everything in the API economy, the rapid evolution of an idea quickly weeds out the weak ideas from the strong.+

The plastic is just a delivery device

Let's take this further. What's really going on is the commoditization of context, desire for something by someone that requires instantaneous fulfillment. As Jeffrey Martin, one of our Automation Process Engineers here at SmartBear puts it:+

"There are even more exciting uses to DRS than the button. New washing machines can now measure how much detergent you use, and when you get close to running out order more automatically with no intervention from you. Or light bulbs that measures how long they’ve been on and orders a replacement prior to burning out. There are thousands of applications, all delivered through your Amazon account of course."+

The API economy is a shift in how software delivers value, and is perfectly represented with the Amazon Dash. Does this lack of web or mobile application free us from the responsibility of proper testing? Not even remotely, since the device and the service have to work seamlessly, reliably, and efficiently. Even when what we're testing doesn't always have an on-screen user interface, there's code and conditions to check.

A testers work is never done

The Internet of Things might be stealing some of the need for web or mobile app testing, but is replacing it with awesome ways to interact with the connected world, and those experiences need to be tested too. Technology will evolve, but so will our expectations about what developing, testing, and delivering technology really means.