Twilio Adds Instant Messaging Service to API Portfolio

Moving to extend the scope of the communications services it exposes via REST APIs, Twilio announced at the Signal 2015 conference this week that it is adding an instant messaging service to its portfolio.

CEO Jeff Lawson says Twilio IP Messaging is part of an ongoing effort to supplant telecommunications infrastructure that is more than 150 years old. In its place, Twilio is exposing APIs via a common set of SDKs that enable developers to embed voice, video and now instant messaging inside their applications, Lawson says.

In addition to Twilio IP Messaging, the company this week added a Twilio Monitor capability to track voice, video and instant messaging application usage and rolled out updates to its SMS and MMS service to include a Messaging Copilot capability that enables developers to send messages from multiple Twilio phone numbers and use local phone numbers anywhere in the world.

Separately, the Authy unit of Twilio also used the conference as a backdrop to announce support for two-factor Authentication using an Apple Watch connected to an Apple iPhone and the launch of Authy OneTouch, an authentication service that relies on push notifications. Authy OneTouch replace one-time password codes with a simpler "yes" or "no" approval of a push notification. Both offerings represent extensions of the existing Authy API and soft-token products and services.

Lawson says part of the core issue with legacy communications technologies is that they force an artificial construct on users. People using mobile and Web applications now expect the organizations that own those applications to know the context in which they are being used in the event the users need additional assistance. For example, Lawson notes that call center personnel are increasingly expected to know how and where customers need help by looking at whatever activity they are trying to perform on the organization’s website even before they pick up the call. The experience most end users have today requires them to essentially start over from the beginning because the person on the other end of the line has no context pertaining to their issue.

It’s just a matter of time before more communications move inside mobile and Web applications. The rate and volume at which that process might occur is debatable. But when all is said and done, the difference between a modern and legacy application may soon come down to the level of embedded communication services that an application actually supports.

Be sure to read the next Messaging article: Send SMS using Nexmo and Amazon Web Services’ Lambda