Most developers don’t take advantage of Short Message Service (SMS) as much as they could simply because negotiating the labyrinth of telecommunications service providers takes too much time. At the APIcon 2014 conference this week, Tim Lytle, developer evangelist for Nexmo, demonstrated how developers could use RESTful APIs to tap into a service that aggregates access to a range of two-way SMS services spanning the globe.
Lytle says the Nexmo service turns an SMS text sent by a user of a sensor on a device into an HTTP request. Nexmo then passes that HTTP request on to an application, which in turn can send a response back to the user or sensor via the outbound APIs that Nexmo provides.
Applications can include creating an interactive voice-response system that can forward SMS to mobile phones, a device that supports the Session Initiation Protocol or an application that recognizes VoiceXML.
Other complementary services that Nexmo provides include monitoring of messages, real-time analytics and confirmation of delivery to a particular handset. Developers can even customize those SMS texts with their own branding.
Lytle says Nexmo provides a simple way for developers to consistently access SMS services that not only provides optimal paths for delivering those messages, but also a two-factor authentication of those messages by wrapping security APIs around the Nexmo APIs.
Obviously, when it comes to using plain text within an application, developers have to give some thought to security and compliance issues. In addition, Lytle says that Nexmo will take steps to prevent customers from sending spam. But for a lot of applications, SMS provides a much more cost-effective way to share alerts. In the case of Nexmo, pricing starts at $1 per number per month.
Customers can also opt to have texts sent to “virtual numbers” that protect their privacy rather than using their own mobile phone numbers. Texts sent to a virtual number can then be forwarded on by Nexmo to whatever device the customer chooses.
Lytle concedes that there are a number of SMS rules in the United States that make using SMS problematic in some scenarios. But in terms of sharing data and messages, there isn’t a much simpler method than SMS. As many organizations are trying to figure out how to connect devices to the Internet of Things, that may prove to be especially handy.