Start building

Top Chat APIs of 2024: Find the Best Chat API for Your Needs

Gabriel Halle, May 10, 2024

In our increasingly connected world, messaging platforms have become central to personal and professional communication. As the need for instant, dependable, and versatile communication options grows, developers are increasingly turning to chat APIs and SDKs to craft dynamic, feature-packed messaging experiences.

These tools are far from just add-ons — they are fundamental in crafting applications that engage and retain users through seamless interactions. Whether through text, voice, or video, having the right chat functionality can greatly enhance your chat platform's utility and popularity.

This guide will take you through the top chat SDKs and APIs of 2024, highlighting their unique features and how they can satisfy the diverse needs of developers and businesses like yours.

The popularity of messaging apps

Messaging apps have skyrocketed in popularity, reshaping how we talk, text, and even transact. In 2023, over 4.7 billion people globally used chat apps like SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger, with even more projected growth on the horizon. These platforms aren't just keeping us connected – they're offering quick, easy, and often cheaper alternatives to traditional methods of communication.

But it’s not just casual conversations driving the trend. Over half of consumers now prefer reaching out to businesses through chat apps, attracted by their immediate responses and straightforwardness. From video calls and handling payments to other tools, these apps are becoming multifunctional powerhouses.

Chat API vs chat SDK

Before we dig in further, let's clarify what chat APIs and SDKs are and why they matter.

A chat API (application programming interface) allows developers to integrate comprehensive messaging functionalities into their applications without the need to build the underlying backend infrastructure from scratch. This includes capabilities like sending and receiving messages, managing user interactions, and more, all accessible through a set of predefined commands that interact with a remote server.

An SDK (software development kit) is a toolkit for developers that includes libraries, tools, documentation, and code samples designed to aid in the application development process. When it comes to chat functionalities, an SDK will typically wrap around a Chat API for direct access, providing a more streamlined, higher-level set of tools that make it easier and quicker to implement chat features.

Text Platform comparison of SDK vs API

Why should you use a chat API?

When you're building an app that needs to let people chat, picking the right tools can make or break your project. A chat API is often a go-to choice for developers because it comes packed with features right out of the box.

It's like getting a Swiss Army knife for your app's messaging system – it has everything you might need.

1. Quick deployment

A chat API offers ready-to-use functionalities that drastically reduce the development time for integrating sophisticated features such as real-time messaging. This means developers bring their feature-rich applications to market quickly.

2. Enhanced scalability

A chat API takes over the intensive server-side processing, allowing developers to focus on expanding their applications. As user demand increases, the chat API facilitates a smooth scaling of services without a drop in performance.

3. High customizability

These tools are designed with flexibility in mind, offering a variety of customization options. This adaptability ensures that developers can create a tailored messaging experience that aligns perfectly with the specific needs of their applications and customers.

4. Security and compliance

Chat APIs often come with built-in security features, like end-to-end encryption, that help you meet GDPR compliance and other regulatory standards. This can significantly reduce the complexity and cost associated with securing communications.

5. Integration with other services

They easily integrate with other APIs and third-party services, such as CRM systems, payment gateways, or artificial intelligence services. This integration capability enables developers to create richer, more functional applications.

6. Cross-platform compatibility

They are designed to work seamlessly across various platforms and devices, ensuring a consistent user experience whether the user is on an Android or iOS mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

Key features to look for

When choosing a chat API or SDK for your project, it’s important to assess your application's specific needs and select features that will create a powerful and enjoyable chat experience. If the tool lacks popular modern features that users expect, your app could deliver a poor user experience, which is exactly what you want to avoid.

Real-time messaging – Perfect for apps where timing is everything, like team collaboration tools or social media platforms. It keeps discussions brisk and responsive, with no message left behind.

Video chat – A key feature for any chat service focused on remote communication. It allows users to engage in face-to-face chats from anywhere, perfect for teams working from different locations or for keeping in touch with friends and family.

Group messaging – A group chat feature supports communication among multiple users in a single session. It helps create a sense of community and collaboration, especially in team-oriented apps or large-scale social platforms.

File sharing – This feature enables an effortless exchange of documents, images, and other media right within the chat interface. It is especially handy in professional settings to quickly share project files or important documents.

Push notifications – To keep users informed and engaged, push notifications alert them about new messages or updates within the app, even when they are not actively using it.

Message history and threaded conversations – Maintaining the chat history, or a log of previous conversations, is important to preserve context in ongoing discussions. This feature helps users catch up on unread messages and continue discussions without missing a beat.

Online presence indicators – This feature displays user presence by showing who's active and available, creating engagement by letting users know when their contacts are online and ready to chat.

Typing indicators – These indicators contribute to the dynamic and interactive nature of the chat experience. They inform users when someone is composing a message, providing real-time feedback that keeps the chat messages flowing smoothly and naturally.

Chat moderation tools – For platforms that require enforcement of community guidelines or content filtering, moderation tools are essential. They help maintain a safe and respectful communication environment.

Mentions – This feature allows users to directly notify specific individuals in a conversation by tagging them with the “@” symbol followed by the username.

Read receipts – Read receipts add a layer of transparency by indicating when messages have been viewed. This feature is especially important when information needs to be acknowledged and acted upon in a timely manner.

UI Kits – A UI kit provides pre-designed user interface components that can be easily integrated and customized within your app. These kits typically include various UI elements like buttons, input fields, and templates for chat bubbles, which help accelerate the design process and ensure a visually appealing and consistent user experience across different platforms.

Top chat APIs of 2024

Here are some of the top chat APIs that are leading the way this year:

1. Text Platform

Text Platform is the go-to resource for developers looking to quickly roll out apps packed with advanced chat features. It’s kitted out with a wide range of APIs and SDKs, covering everything from real-time messaging and video chats to asynchronous messages.

What really sets the Text Platform apart is its ability to mesh smoothly with various other development tools and platforms like GitHub, Vercel, Netlify, PlanetScale, and Neon. Whether you’re building a simple chat app or a complex communication platform, the Text Platform gives you the tools you need to innovate and execute quickly.

Text Platform website

Features of the Text Platform API include:

  • Comprehensive messaging capabilities: Offers a full suite of features for chat messaging, including real-time chat, file sharing, and the ability to manage asynchronous communication.
  • Rich integration potential: Supports integrations with a wide range of other development tools and platforms, enhancing applications' functionality and reach.
  • Direct monetization opportunities: Unique to the Text Platform, developers can monetize their apps through the Text Marketplace, opening up revenue streams directly linked to their application's use.

Best for: Developers looking to fast-track apps to market with advanced chat features will find this API particularly valuable. It's also ideal for those aiming to integrate these features with other Text products like LiveChat and HelpDesk.

2. Stream Chat API

Stream Chat API is a powerful tool designed for developers looking to integrate high-performance chat solutions into their applications. It's known for its lightning-fast performance and can handle a huge number of users at once, all without missing a beat in terms of responsiveness or features. This makes it a great fit for large-scale enterprise projects where power and the ability to scale up are key.

Stream Chat API website

Features of Stream Chat API include:

  • High-performance solutions with low latency: Ensures quick, responsive interactions crucial for maintaining user engagement.
  • Scalability for millions of concurrent users: Ideal for large-scale operations, capable of supporting extensive user bases seamlessly.
  • Rich feature set: Includes advanced capabilities such as threading, reactions, and tracking of unread message counts.

Best for: Enterprise-level implementations needing robust, scalable chat solutions.

3. SendBird

When you need a robust and flexible chat solution for your application, SendBird stands out as a strong contender. It offers a comprehensive chat API that supports not just messaging but also file transfers and video calls, equipped with advanced features to meet diverse development needs. Plus, their customer support is top-notch, so you’re well-covered when you need help navigating through the technical bits.

SendBird website

Features of SendBird include:

  • Comprehensive messaging capabilities: Supports text messaging, file transfers, and video calls, providing a robust foundation for any communication needs within an app.
  • Advanced functionalities: Includes sophisticated features like message threading and data encryption, ensuring conversations are organized and secure.
  • Rich resources and community support: Offers extensive documentation and access to a supportive developer community, which can be invaluable for troubleshooting and learning.

Best for: Applications that demand high customization and robust customer support options with flexible pricing.

4. PubNub

PubNub really shines as a communication powerhouse with its powerful API, which is all about real-time messaging for mobile and web apps. Built for developers who can't afford any downtime, this platform delivers exceptional reliability and performance. Whether you're working on a crucial app where every second counts or just need a solid messaging backbone, PubNub has got you covered.

PubNub website

Features of PubNub include:

  • Real-time messaging: Facilitates immediate communication across both mobile and web apps, essential for dynamic user interactions.
  • Comprehensive feature set: Includes presence indicators, message history, and real-time analytics, enhancing the functionality and user experience of apps.
  • Robust network infrastructure: Known for its strong network backbone, PubNub ensures minimal downtimes and network issues, crucial for maintaining continuous service availability.

Best for: Developers who need a dependable service that can handle essential applications with stringent reliability requirements.

5. Twilio Programmable Chat

Twilio Programmable Chat is a versatile platform that offers a wide range of communication tools, including SMS, voice, and chat APIs. What's great about Twilio is that it smoothly integrates different channels under one roof, creating a unified user experience that feels effortless.

Plus, Twilio doesn't skimp on security or compliance – it's fully in line with international standards like GDPR, making it a trusted partner for businesses that stretch across borders.

Twilio Programmable Chat website

Features of Twilio Programmable Chat include:

  • Diverse communication options: Offers APIs for SMS, voice, and chat, covering a wide range of communication needs.
  • Seamless multi-channel integration: Allows for smooth communication across different platforms, enhancing the user experience by maintaining consistency and accessibility.
  • Commitment to compliance: Ensures all communication complies with international standards like GDPR, making it ideal for businesses prioritizing data protection and privacy.

Best for: Businesses that require a multi-channel messaging solution with a strong focus on compliance and security.

Latest articles

Jun 6, 2024

What Is GitHub Used For and How Can It Enhance Your Projects...

Jun 4, 2024

Discover the Best Code Editor: Top Choices for Developers in...

May 23, 2024

The Developer's Blueprint: How to Become a Software Develope...