Chatting rules! Seriously though, the world revolves around texting to family, friends, support teams, delivery guys, etc. Come to think of it, we spend almost all of our time on the phones. Let alone the time it takes to tackle some burning issues.
For instance, 9 out of 10 customers prefer sending messages to a brand rather than calling. Chatting became a preferred communication tool. And if you’re a startup owner or in charge of a business, think wisely. Are you getting the picture?
I am talking about creating your own in-app messaging hub without a development team. Trust me, it’s not rocket science. All it takes is to choose the best chat API package, and you’re good to go.
What are chat APIs?
Chat APIs (Application Programming Interface) represent a set of components that gives access to the back-end server environment and provides real-time messaging features to your application.
A real-time chat API can be easily embedded with documentation or by using a chat SDK (Software Development Kit). Speaking of, the latter comes in a downloadable package and involves ready-to-use instructions for developers to generate applications.
Assisting communication between user to user, business to customer, business to business, or service provider to the customer – APIs can help you shape awesome chat tweaks that fit your brand.
What are chat APIs benefits?
You might already have an idea of how a real-time messaging API can transform your experience while utilizing an app and creating your best chat solutions. I give you three reasons:
- Budget-friendly: thanks to predesigned APIs and SDKs, you can cut costs on workforce or finance and build an app without tedious tasks. All the processes will be simplified.
- Secure: not to mention, you don’t even have to fret over your security (disclaimer: the list below features solutions that are 100% secure).
- Beneficial: APIs and SDKs are developer-friendly and easily accessible to users. They can actually change the entire app creation experience. It means software delivery will be faster and glitches-free.
Who benefits from chat APIs and how
If you think the things we discuss today are used only in the tech industry, think again. As a matter of fact, SDK and API are found in many industries. Here are some of them:
- E-learning: It’s on high stakes today as more and more people worldwide make online education their first choice. APIs play a supportive role here: teachers and students can communicate with each other in person and in real time without switching to another third-party chat platform.
- Live streaming: Turning conversations and performing live brings money and fame to many bloggers and influencers. Such a distant communication would be next to impossible without APIs. No need to leave your platform.
- Healthcare: All the convenience lies in a live communication feature that helps counsel patients online. Be sure that your interaction with users will be totally secure and leakage-proof.
- On-demand service: This industry includes food or grocery stores and delivery. An API service is a silver bullet here as you can actually choose products right in your app, reach out to a delivery man to see if your order is OK, or report a problem. It all happens online.
What should a chat API service provide?
Before you decide on an API service for your mobile app or website, check if it meets all your business technical and non-technical needs. Here’s what you should pay attention to in the first place:
- A group messaging option/ 1-1 messaging/ open public chat
- Push notifications
- Devices and platforms supported (Android, iOS, web)
- Custom data transfers
- Messaging history
- Delivery status
- Online/offline status
- Authentication type (single sign-on, email, OAuth, two-factor)
- Technologies used (REST, Ajax, WebSockets, XMPP)
However, it’s not cut and dried. Some chat APIs may involve advanced features such as webhooks, a chatbot integration, an anti-spam option, typing indicators, and moderation tools, to name a few.
10 best chat APIs to build a perfect chatting app
Now that you’ve sounded out the technical side, it’s time to talk real stuff. Yes, there is a list of the best mobile APIs and SDKs worth your attention. Look through them and pick out the most decent solution.
- HelpCrunch Chat SDK & Messaging API
HelpCrunch is primarily an omnichannel platform for customer support. But along with live chat, a help desk, a knowledge base, and an intuitive popup builder, we also offer somewhat limited but ready-to-use APIs and SDK features for Android and iOS.
Thus, you can embed a well-orchestrated chat into your app and customize it, so your brand’s identity doesn’t go west. For example, among the SDK functions we offer, you will have the ability to collect and track user data, add pre-chat forms, enable push notifications, and track custom events. You can also change the localization of your widget. You can read more about the available functionality in the documentation for the Android and iOS versions of our SDK.
As for the API, we’ve just updated our REST API and now boast an extensive list of features. In particular, you will have access to various operations with individual customers or groups, such as search, tags, add/delete, updates, and events. A detailed list of capabilities can be viewed in the API documentation.
Prices: The Live Chat Only pricing plan starts from $15/mo (Basic) and $25/mo (Pro) if billed annually. Also, an Unlimited plan is available for $620/mo. Book a demo to find out the details, or sign up for a free trial to see everything yourself.
- Messaging: a private group, supergroup private, or a public group. It’s your choice here. Here, you get typing indicators, read receipts, unread message count, mention count, push notifications, and so much more.
- User engagement: decide what message types you want to adopt (audio, video, images, GIFs), use structured templates, and send admin notes. Such chat functionality as search, announcements, or offline messages are available if you want to go advanced.
- Moderation: you can make conversations in your in-app chat safe with Sendbird’s API and SDKs. Profanity filters, spam flood protection, ban users, or user deactivation are just a few things you can take advantage of.
- Analyzing: connect third-party integrations like a bot or post-event webhooks and use data export with advanced analytics.
Be mindful about what package to choose, though. Unlike its competitors, Sendbird’s ordinary Starter pack doesn’t provide auto message translation, moderation dashboard, profanity filter, or advanced analytics.
Prices: The Sendbird Starter package starts from $399 a month; a free trial is also available.
Suppose you want to fine-tune your user retention and loyalty, keep conversations spam-free, and reduce customer service costs without sacrificing quality. In that case, PubNub has instant messaging APIs for you.
No matter your industry, the chats will be streamlined and efficient. You can tweak them and set up your workflow with just a few clicks. It’s also possible to create groups for e-learning, healthcare, or gaming communities (and the list can go on and on).
There’s no need to do everything from scratch. Connect the Kits with Sketch, take advantage of reusable components, develop your real-time chat application in superb design, and dive deeper into unique features to keep active users knocking at your door.
There are, however, some limitations. For instance, annual prepay options and personalized services aren’t available in a Standard plan.
Prices: The Standard plan is $49, or take their tool for a trial first.
Picture a situation. To refine your Android or iOS app and make users happy, you lack:
- Live broadcasting
- Unlimited communication channels
- Emojis and stickers
A customizable chat API service from MirrorFly can provide you with the features mentioned above and much more. It allows you to engage with users in real time by sending them push notifications and letting them stay connected. The options here are various, from update messages to discussion reminders. A perfect chance to increase the online community retention rate.
With scalable SDK, you can develop a customizable community app with advanced features and powerful collaborative possibilities to target the right audiences. Other benefits MirrorFly suggests are:
- Virtual video interactions
- Unlimited sharing
- Language translator API
Here is also one major con. They don’t have a free trial, which can be not good for many users (especially those who just want to take the solution for a spin).
Prices: Contact MirrorFly’s sales expert to find out the prices.
Sinch is a cloud communication platform that promises you can “rich every mobile phone on the planet.” Their main products are a set of APIs for communicating with customers. So, is Sinch as powerful as they picture themselves? Let’s find it out.
The number-one benefits Sinch mentions are CPaaS and APIs. With an easy API, you get a broad toolset:
- Developer documentation with intuitive guidelines, API docs, and popular code languages.
- SMS package for the quickest communication.
- WhatsApp to talk with users on their own home grounds.
- Verification to battle fraught and protect your user data.
The limitations should be mentioned here, too. User interfaces (or how APIs are displayed) could be more intuitive. Besides, no such features as file sharing, call recording, or call routing are available.
Prices: there’s a free trial available in case you need some time to think about it.
With TalkJS and its APIs and SDKs, you can embed messaging features into an app without spending much time.
This SaaS startup can make you do more with less. It allows you to connect users via 1-1 messaging, create a group chat, or organize a room with a pre-built UI. Plus, TalkJS offers you everything you want to see in a messaging app: SMS, push notifications, and integration with any framework or programming language (Angular, React, Ruby, etc.)
To piggyback on the main arsenal of tools, this platform provides an end-user chat with no code needed, customizable options with TalkJS themes, and other capabilities (file sharing, stickers, email, and a lot more).
What about some restrictions? Unlike some other competitors, TalkJS has no proactive chat option, canned responses, or a customizable branding feature.
Prices: The numbers rise from $239 a month if billed annually.
If you search for an infinite number of features to set up your own messaging center, an API and SDK bundle from Apphitect may be just the ticket. So, let’s open up the box.
With this solution, you’ll be able to meet your real-time communication needs and maximize your app’s potential. Here’s what’s on the table:
- Group messaging: enliven your mundane interactions by creating hangouts on your mobile app.
- Offline messages: build rapport with users even if they’re offline.
- Push notifications: develop an instant messaging app, so your users are engaged 24/7.
- Multimedia sharing: jazz up your in-app chat experience a little and send GIFs, images, and videos.
- Geolocation tracking: track user location and fire a push notification at the right moment.
The biggest con of the solution is that there’s no free trial. Some may think that it’s not convenient enough.
Prices: Get in touch with sales to see the pricing models available.
CometChat’s solution has everything needed to build a reliable user experience with SDKs and API (yes, an array of programming languages is also available).
You’ll shape a well-orchestrated messaging hub with just a single code snippet. All elements are working together, making a cross-platform snap.
Like any other decent option we’ve covered here, CometChat has the following specs under its belt:
- 1-1 and group conversations
- Typing indicators
- Custom messages
- Read indicators
- And so much more
Are you developing a dating app? Or trying to build a social community? This API service is at your fingertips. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
However, in a usual package, you won’t take advantage of features like reactions, thumbnail generations, message translation, or smart replies. It will cost you to upgrade for more.
Prices: The CometChat pricing plan starts at $109 a month. Or grab a free trial.
Our next candidate is filled with APIs to suit every need. Vonage has rolled the dice and presented an ultimate selection of:
- Communication APIs: build tailored in-app voice chat experiences, send marketing campaigns, merge threaded conversations from multiple channels into one single thread, and get in touch with users via MMS, SMS, Facebook, Viber, and WhatsApp.
- Authentication APIs: verify user accounts and prevent fraud.
- Management APIs: process reports, audit various accounts, and integrate video session data.
Despite all the perks, Vonage lacks automatic real-time notifications, instant messaging, customizable branding, and contact management.
So, taking our comparison of all APIs into account, what would you choose? I bet you’re about to make the right call.
Prices: There are multitiered pricing packages, but you can start from a trial (no credit card required).
Zendesk’s product Sunshine Conversations by Smooch is the last in our extensive list, though not the least in what it offers. A single unified API can set the ball rolling in WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Messenger, and Twitter DM. That means you don’t have to be a programming geek to set everything up.
Fully customizable chat embeddable for iOS and Android can help you feature all-around conversations for your customers. They are designed so that your messages get delivered securely. And if it’s not the case, you’ll see what goes wrong.
There’s always room for perfection. The fact that this solution is rather expensive and has few customization options gives a trigger for improvement for the user’s sake.
Prices: Start for free or contact a sales expert to hammer out details.
Yeah, I know. There is too much information to take in. But you now have an idea about the top APIs available on the market!
The most important thing to remember is that you have to align your business goals with the solutions we’ve described here. Start free trials, ask sales or support executives about other ins and outs, and then jump to the final decision. And let it be the right one! 😉