Twilio Broadens Communications Platform

With IP Messaging and other new services, Twilio hopes to give companies such as Uber more control over the communication infrastructure they build into their apps.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

May 19, 2015

3 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: Twilio)</p>

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As its SIGNAL developers conference gets underway on Tuesday in San Francisco, Twilio plans to extend its cloud-based communications platform with a service called IP Messaging, which allows developers to implement chat in mobile and Web applications.

In a phone interview, CEO Jeff Lawson said that Twilio began as a cloud-based telephony service and has evolved into a real-time communication suite. Twilio is used by companies such as Uber for making phone calls and handling associated data in their apps. It's used by Box for sending SMS messages for two-factor authentication. Its communications infrastructure services can be employed by companies for a variety of internal or external communications channels.

Last month, the company added support for IP Video, to let developers add video calling to their apps. Now, Twilio is adding support for advanced chat capabilities.

Using Twilio's IP Messaging service, developers can implement multi-party chat customized to support desired features like read message notifications.

Collectively, Twilio refers to its voice, video, and messaging services as the Twilio RTC Suite.

"The reason why this is so important is that the future of communications is in software," said Lawson.

Lawson argues that by moving the business communications stack to software, companies have more flexibility to implement the services they need, the way they want them, at affordable on-demand prices.

Adding video capabilities to a call center can take years and cost millions if the charge is per minute of video usage, said Lawson, but Twilio offers a per-connection pricing model. With Twilio, businesses can add video at a cost that is two orders of magnitude lower -- at rates as low as 21 cents per agent per month for video service, Lawson said.

With video and messaging capabilities, Lawson suggests, companies can implement their own versions Amazon's on-demand video customer service, Mayday. A company that wanted a similar service could build one using Twilio’s video messaging API.

Twilio is also introducing several additional services.

Messaging Copilot is an intelligent routing and delivery service for SMS and MMS messages. It replaces a message's sender address with a geographically appropriate local number or short code, because marketing messages believed to originate in another country may not be as welcome as missives with more familiar markings.

Twilio Monitor provides companies with insight into the operational details of Twilio accounts. It allows IT personnel to check for security holes, audit for compliance, and investigate application problems.

[Want to see why Amazon thinks it's going to be around for as a cloud supplier for a while? See AWS Revenue Reveals Cloud Powerhouse.]

What's more, Twilio is expanding the scope of its conferencing capabilities. Conferences can now support up to 250 callers at a time. For events that may require more callers, such as investor conference calls, there's Twilio Epic Conference, which has no upper limit on participants. Also, Twilio now offers mobile numbers in six additional countries -- Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, and Israel -- and a service called Alphanumeric Sender ID that allows companies to brand SMS messages by sending a business name instead of a phone number.

Finally, Authy, the authentication service that Twilio acquired earlier this year, plans to launch Authy OneTouch, a button to authorize mobile interactions in conjunction with two-factor authentication, and Authy for Apple Watch, a way to extend Authy authentication to apps on the Apple Watch.

Twilio's SIGNAL developer conference runs May 19-20 at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion and The Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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