Les Melnichenko
Feb 02, 2021 | 10 min read

Chatting rules! Seriously though, the world revolves around texting to family, friends, support team, delivery guys…Insert your option. 

Come to think of it, we spend almost 3 hours and 15 minutes on our phones. Let alone the time it takes to tackle some burning issues. 

According to another report, 9 out of 10 customers prefer sending messages to a brand rather than calling. There’s a tendency that all the chatting becomes a buzzword yet a preferred communication tool. And if you’re a startup owner or in charge of a business, think wisely. Getting the picture?

I am talking about creating your own in-app messaging hub but without a team of technology junkies. Trust me, it’s not rocket science. All it takes is to choose a 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 chat features to your application. 

A chat API can be easily embedded with development 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 – chat 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 an instant messaging API can transform your experience while utilizing an app and creating your best chat solutions. I give you three reasons:

  1. 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.
  2. Secure: not to mention you even don’t have to fret over your security (disclaimer: the list below features solutions that are 100% secure).
  3. Beneficial: APIs and SDKs are not only developer-friendly but also easily accessible for 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 that the things we are talking about today are used only in the tech industry, think again. As a matter of fact, a chat SDK and API are found in many industries. Here are some of them:

  1. E-learning: it’s on high stakes today as more and more people all around the world make online education their first choice. Chat 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 platform.
  2. Live streaming: turning conversations and performing live is what brings money and fame to many bloggers and influencers out there. Such a distant communication would be next to impossible without APIs. No need to leave your platform. 
  3. Healthcare: all the convenience lies in a live communication feature that helps in counseling patients online. Be sure that your interaction with users will be totally secure and leakage-proof.
  4. On-demand service: this industry includes food or grocery stores and delivery. A chat 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 a chat 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 platform supported (Android, iOS, web)
  • Custom data transfers
  • Chat history 
  • Delivery status 
  • Analytics
  • 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, 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, time to talk real stuff. Yes, there is a list of the best mobile chat APIs and SDKs worth your attention. Look through them and pick out the most decent solution. 

1. HelpCrunch Chat SDK & Messaging API

helpcrunch chat api

Coupled with live chat, help desk, knowledge base, and an intuitive popup builder, HelpCrunch has also ready-to-use chat APIs and SDKs for Android and iOS under its hood. Basically, everything a messaging app could only ask for.

Thanks to a robust toolset, you can embed a well-orchestrated chat into your app and customize it so that your brand’s identity doesn’t go west.  

Is your support team snowed under endless tickets and customer messages? Take it easy! You have now a golden opportunity to load off your staff with a shared inbox from HelpCrunch where it’s possible to track user data, receive, and answer incoming messages right from your app.

If you want to re-engage with your audience like never before and show that you care, set up catchy push notifications to target them. The cases are miscellaneous here: onboarding help, one-off messages, app installation assistance, etc. What’s not to like? ?

Let’s solidify the knowledge: instant messaging, five-star customer service, a handy team inbox, and push notifications are available in the HelpCrunch chat SDK and API package. All in all, the solution spares you the trouble. And all of it for a fair price. Give it a shot!

Prices: The Live chat Only pricing plan starts from $12/mo (Standard) and $20/mo (Premium) if billed annually. The Live chat + Email pricing plan is $23/mo (Standard) and $39/mo (Premium) if billed annually. Book a demo to find out the details or sign up for a free trial to see everything for yourself.  

2. Sendbird

sendbird chat api

Sendbird offers a feature-rich chat API service that can help you boost customer engagement, drive sales, and dive deeper into conversations. Among its toolset, you can find:

  • Messaging: a private group chat, supergroup private, or a public group chat. It’s your choice here. Here you get typing indicators, read receipts, unread message count, mention count, push notifications, and so much more.
  • Engagement: decide what message types you want to adopt (audio, video, images, GIFs), use structured templates, and send admin notes. Such features as message search, announcements, or offline messages are available if you want to go advanced.
  • Moderation: you can make conversations in your app safe with this Sendbird’s API and SDKs. Profanity filter, spam flood protection, ban user, or user deactivation are just a few things you can take advantage of.
  • Analyzing: connect third-party integrations like chatbot 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: Sendbird Chat Starter package starts from $399 a month, a free trial is also available.

3. PubNub

pubnub chat api

If you want to fine-tune your user retention and loyalty, keep conversations spam-free, and reduce customer service costs without sacrificing the quality, then PubNub has got instant messaging APIs for you. 

No matter the industry you deal with, 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 group chats 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 app in superb design, and dive deeper into unique features to keep your 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: Standard plan is $49, or take their tool for a trial first. 

4. MirrorFly

mirrorfly chat api

Picture a situation. To refine your Android or iOS app and make users happy, you lack:

  • Live broadcasting
  • Notifications
  • Unlimited channels
  • Emojis and stickers

A chat API service from MirrorFly can provide you with the above-mentioned features and so much more. It allows you to engage with users in real-time by sending them push notifications and letting them stay always connected. The options here are various: from update messages to a discussion reminder. A perfect chance to increase the online community retention rate. 

With scalable chat 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:

  • Supergroup chats
  • 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.

5. Sinch

sinch chat api

Sinch is a cloud communication platform that promises you can “rich every mobile phone on the planet“. Quite up-and-coming, isn’t it? So, is Sinch so powerful as they picture themselves? Let’s find it out.

The number-one benefits Sinch mentions are CPaaS and chat APIs. With an easy API, you get a broad toolset: 

  • Developer documentation with intuitive guidelines, API docs, popular code languages.
  • SMS package for the quickest communication.
  • WhatsApp to talk with users on their own home ground.
  • Verification to battle fraught and protect your user data. 

The limitations should be mentioned here, too. The interface (or the way how APIs are displayed) could be more intuitive. Besides, there are no such features as file sharing, call recording, or call routing available. 

Prices: there’s a free trial available in case you need some time to think over it.

6. TalkJS

talkjs chat api

With TalkJS and its chat APIs and SDKs, you can embed a chat into an app without spending much time.

This SaaS startup can make you do more with less. It allows you to connect users on a 1-1 chat, create a group chat, or organize a chatroom 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 the main arsenal of tools, this platform provides you with an end-user chat with no code needed, customizable options with TalkJS themes, and other capabilities (file sharing, stickers, email, 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. 

7. Apphitect

apphitect chat api

If you search for an infinite number of features to set up your own messaging center, a chat 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 the potential of your app. Here’s what’s on the table:

  • Group chat: 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 that your users are engaged 24/7.
  • Multimedia sharing: jazz up your chat a little and send GIFs, images, 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 plans available.

8. CometChat

cometchat chat api

CometChat’s solution has everything needed for building a reliable experience with chat SDKs and API (and yes, an array of programming languages is available, too). 

With just a single code snippet, you’re to shape a well-orchestrated messaging hub. All elements are working together making a cross-platform a snap. 

Like any other decent option we’ve covered here, CometChat has the following specs under its belt:

  • 1-1 and group chats
  • Typing indicators 
  • Custom messages
  • Read indicators
  • Webhooks
  • And so much more

Are you developing a dating app? Or trying to build a social community? This chat API service is at your fingertips. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

However, you won’t take advantage of such features as reactions, thumbnail generations, message translation, or smart replies in a usual package. It will cost you to upgrade for more.

Prices: The Meteoroid pricing plan starts at $49 a month. Or grab a free trial.

9. Vonage

vonage chat api

Our next candidate is filled with chat APIs to suit every need. Vonage has rolled the dice and presented an ultimate selection of:

  • Communication APIs: build tailored in-app voice experiences, send marketing campaigns, merge 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 notifications, instant messaging, customizable branding, and contact management. 

So, taking our comparison of all chat 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). 

10. Smooch

smooch chat api

Zendesk’s product Sunshine Conversations by Smooch is the last in our extensive list though not the least in what it has to offer. A single unified chat API is able to 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 embeddables for iOS and Android can help you feature all-around messaging 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. 

Final words

Yeah, I know. Too much information to take in. But you now have an idea about the top chat 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! 😉 

Read also

One comment

  1. As a marketing analyst for an SaaS company this post is so helpful in providing context in an area I am not familiar with. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.