APIs (application programming interfaces) are integral to modern development, providing developers with countless building blocks that allow them to quickly add functionality to an app while focusing on its implementation. By removing the time and effort required to “code from scratch,” APIs have become common for any service-oriented application’s architecture, allowing developers to build apps that interface seamlessly with one another’s data and services.
So what’s an example of a popular API that’s allowing developers to create custom workflows with pre-built services? Twilio is the leading communications API provider. It’s a suite of APIs designed to give applications customizable communications services like SMS messaging, authentication, voice calls, video calls, and more. It’s revolutionized the way companies like Lyft, Trulia, Salesforce, and Zendesk field communications with their customers and teams.
Read on to learn about why Twilio API development and integration is a growing, in-demand skill on Upwork, how apps are successfully implementing Twilio’s APIs, and what functionality you can integrate into your app with it as well.
Twilio covers your communications with APIs
How can Twilio integrate with your app? Twilio’s APIs allow you to focus on the actual communicating your app needs to do, so you’re not spending time coding essential functionality from scratch. With a little ingenuity and know-how, integrating Twilio APIs can save you time and money—whether it’s a hospital using SMS messaging to reduce the number of appointment no-shows, or a smart vending machine that’s able to send out automatic maintenance alerts when it needs servicing.
These APIs have also fueled plenty of innovation, like smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices that bring next-level convenience to our lives, or the protected communications that drive the sharing economy. Think of ride sharing apps that can text you when your driver is nearby, or IT systems that send real-time alerts to developers via SMS when there’s a critical incident that needs urgent response.
You might start by looking at some of the ways other apps have utilized the APIs. Some example use cases to help you better envision how Twilio might work for your application include:
- Keep ecommerce customers up-to-date. Send text notifications about purchases at every step of the order and delivery process.
- Text users a code for 2-factor authentication. Implement the safety, security, and convenience of 2-factor authentication easily with a Twilio API.
- Text users to confirm their phone numbers when they sign up for a new app. This makes it so that users don’t need to open up their email to get access; the code comes right through to their phone as an SMS.
Whatever kind of communication functionality you need for your application—whether that’s business-to-consumer, business-to-business, chat, or marketing—Twilio has core communications APIs that can be used like modular elements in your app. Some of the types of communication a Twilio developer can help you can implement in your app include:
- Voice calls: Twilio makes global calling and messaging easy with the cloud. Users can buy a Twilio number and calls are rerouted to the Twilio number while masking or anonymizing their actual phone number. Also, the Twilio Client API extends call functionality beyond the requirement for a traditional telephone network.
- Messaging:For both SMS and MMS, a message is routed to a Twilio number, which then creates an HTTP request to your web server. At the time of this article, the Twilio Proxy API is in preview mode, but will quickly enable timely, private, 1:1 communications between individuals.
- Video calls: Add multi-party video calls to web or native mobile applications.
- Add-ons:Third-party capabilities that extend Voice Calls & Recordings and SMS APIs with things like sentiment analysis and transcription.
- Communication with networked IoT devices: Twilio offers SIM cards to add connectivity to networked, smart devices.
- Multi-channel notifications: With the Notify API, reach out via Google Cloud, Facebook Messenger, Apple Push Notifications, and SMS messages.
- Authentication:Seamlessly integrate two-factor authentication into your app with the Authy API.
Twilio does this by offering programmable connectivity with a standardized set of protocols and tools, which essentially means your app will be able to speak “fluently” with other software—the true beauty of APIs. Before we get into how it all works, let’s look at a few examples of Twilio APIs in action to paint a better picture.
PayByPhone is an IoT application that powers smart parking meters. Imagine if you’ve paid the max amount you can on a parking meter, but you’re in a restaurant and lose track of time. PayByPhone utilizes a Twilio messaging API to enable the parking meter to send you an SMS notification when it’s about to expire. Even better: Users can re-up their time by paying right over their phone, so no rushing back to your parking space to refill the meter.
Ever used the Lyft app to catch a ride? In order to connect drivers and passengers without revealing their personal phone numbers, Lyft used Twilio, bouncing texts and calls from one phone to the cloud, then back to the recipient, without using personal numbers.
By now, you’re probably imagining the endless business opportunities. The sky’s the limit with building out messaging functionality in your app. Twilio APIs have been used to handle communications like:
- Customer service
- Appointment reminders
- Marketing, sales, and support
- Business-to-business communications and conference calls
- Call tracking (tracking ROI and leads via phone calls)
- E-commerce logistics like order notifications, web chat and mobile customer care
- Access security with phone verification
- Service alerts, arrival alerts, account alerts, and field service alerts
How Twilio works
First, you’ll need to buy a phone number through the Twilio console. From there, you can choose the functionality you want to integrate: Do you need incoming and outgoing calls? SMS? MMS? Authentication?
For SMS, for example, Twilio enables your app to send and receive text messages through Twilio. When a text is sent to your Twilio phone number, Twilio generates an HTTP request to your web server that contains all the content of the message as well as some information about who sent it. Your server can then send a reply via HTTP, which gets bounced through Twilio back to the sender.
Get To Production Faster with Twilio Functions
Before Twilio Functions, when a user sent a text to your Twilio number, that was sent to your web server via an HTTP request—and that server required overhead and management. With Functions, “Twilio will handle the servers and infrastructure, so you can focus on learning, prototyping, and deploying to production faster than ever.” Developers can spin out and run apps in Functions, a NodeJS serverless environment that uses the Twilio runtime, allowing for lower latency and access to tools like Twilio’s helper libraries, API keys, and debugging tools.
So far, we’ve only covered some really high-level functionality you can build with Twilio APIs. The platform offers different tools that a skilled Twilio developer will be able to leverage for you, including:
- Voice Insights: Get insights into call quality and more.
- Twilio for Enterprise: Get next-level user management and admin set-up, and advanced security for bigger apps that need more under the hood.
- Twilio Proxy: This API is in preview mode at the time of this article, and is designed to more easily create private communications between two individuals, like Lyft drivers and passengers.
- Security: Twilio supports HTTPS encrypted connections between its APIs and your application, and Twilio Interconnect allows for enterprise-grade security with private connections (physical or virtual) to the Twilio cloud that are protected end-to-end.
- Fixing bugs:Twilio offers help with debugging your app.
- Concurrent calling:For larger apps that need a high volume of concurrent calls around the world with a broadband internet connection, Twilio offers Elastic SIP Trunking.
- TaskRouter:Implement Task Router to keep tasks moving to the people on your team who can address them, whether those are calls to your call center, tickets to your CRM pros, or new leads to your sales people.
Why hire a Twilio pro?
Building software or an application that needs communications capabilities?
Twilio developers are experts at how to integrate the Twilio platform. They can provide additional functionality and polish to help you get your business or project off the ground—and it’s compatible with a number of different programming languages including Java, Ruby, Python, Android’s Kotlin, C#, PHP, iOS, and NodeJS.
If you’re looking to automate your app’s communication services, a skilled Twilio developer can help you create your custom Twilio solution.