In this guide, we describe the benefits of chat APIs, how to choose the best, and how to get started.

With many new apps appearing everyday, modern online experiences must allow for real-time interaction between users to remain competitive in today’s market. This is why many companies are turning to chat as a way to facilitate this organic and engaging in-app communication. 

Fortunately, companies no longer have to deal with the complex challenges of building these capabilities from the ground up due to chat APIs. Chat APIs make it easy to incorporate chat along with the features and real-time functionality that your users expect in your apps and websites without the time, expense, and roadblocks of building in-house. 

In this guide, we describe the benefits of chat APIs, how to choose the best for your business, and how to get started.

What is a chat API?

A chat API is an application programming interface that provides access to cloud-based infrastructure with the features to build real-time chat experiences that scale. Chat APIs are usually offered as a service, and they can be easily embedded in an application with the use of a chat SDK (Software Development Kit).

In contrast to a messaging API, which focuses on SMS and MMS messaging, a chat API focuses entirely on providing features built on web-based instant messaging, such as HTTPS and other protocols. Often, chat APIs package messaging information in an easy-to-understand data format, like JSON payloads. This lets them work between platforms, and allows developers to easily format chat information for end-users.

Additionally, the best chat APIs are just one part of a larger real-time communication platform. This means that the service you initially use for chat will facilitate expansion to new features, like push notifications, video calling, and chatbots.

You can use a chat API in almost any context. Whether you’re building an app or a web-based experience, you can use a chat API to build engaging, responsive chat for many use cases.

Types of Chat API

A chat API essentially lets you easily incorporate live chat into your application or website for a variety of different use cases to support business growth. Let’s dive into the countless benefits they offer for real-time communication between a company and their customers. 

Video Chat API

Video chat describes visual, remote communication between two or more parties, each equipped with a camera and microphone to see and hear the other. Beyond supporting in-app chat messaging, PubNub acts as a signaling layer to orchestrate video and voice calls of any size, and to underpin live-streaming, large-audience events. PubNub also allows you to log chat events around the call itself to capture complete details and histories for later use.

Chatbot API

A chatbot is a software application used to conduct an online chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent. It’s commonly used to allow people to quickly ask questions and provide support for a wide range of use cases (online orders, customer support, rideshare and delivery apps) without the need for users to open another application. 

Chat API for Website

A Chat API is a collection of programmable building blocks that can be used to provide real-time chat features for in-app chat, or for chat on a website. Companies make use of a Chat API to engage new customers in the sales process or to enhance relationships with existing customers by offering direct live support. An organization may also create an internal collaborative chat environment for employees in order to improve productivity across different departments. Another use case that has become popular is to provide mass audience participation during live events in the form of a streaming chat window (e.g. for spectators of competitive eSports).

API for chat application

A chat application should facilitate conversations that feel natural and comfortable for users. This is something that consumers now expect from a chat experience. Chat APIs provide these user-friendly features to ensure that your users' needs are met. In-app chat APIs are usually offered as a service by a third-party PaaS cloud provider and can be easily embedded in an application by following the respective chat API documentation or with the use of a Chat SDK (Software Development Kit).

HIPAA Compliant Chat API

What is HIPAA? HIPAA, an acronym for, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a law passed by US Congress in 1996 with a main purpose: to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without a patient's consent. For teams building telemedicine apps, a HIPAA-compliant chat API ensures this privacy, enabling you to provide high-quality care instead of worrying about upholding security requirements. HIPAA-compliant chat APIs enable you to build a feature-rich chat where patients can share protected health information (PHI), receive timely push notifications, and leverage real-time communication for personalized care experiences. 

Why PubNub is the best chat API service?

Your chat service should, first and foremost, fulfill the core needs of your application. At the very foundation, this means providing the stable, scalable, real-time backend required for great chat. Then, the API itself should make it easy to deliver 1:1 and group chat for your use case. But it should also let you see who’s active or inactive, send push notifications, and easily display message history. In all, core messaging features include:

  • 1:1 or private messaging

  • Group chat, for social or collaborative use-cases

  • Presence, to see who’s active and inactive

  • Push notifications, to reach users, even when offline

  • Chat history, to retain the context of conversations

  • Reliability at scale

  • Concurrency for many, many users

Who uses PubNub chat API?

PubNub’s chat APIs make it easy to build fully-featured chat at a lower cost and with a shorter time to market. Because PubNub offers APIs designed for full customization and integrations with best-in-class services, it saves our customers time and cost not having to build from scratch. This also allows developers to concentrate their efforts on building an engaging chat experience that aligns with their core product offering. 

Here’s a look at how to use a chat API:

  • Virtual Events: Stream chat during live events to give users the ability to engage with audience members and react to messages using emojis, keeping conversations lively and interactive. 

  • Telemedicine: Private chat between doctors and patients enhances virtual care by ensuring seamless communication for scheduling, virtual waiting rooms, consultations, and when sharing electronic private health information (ePHI).  

  • Gaming: Live chat for online games creates a natural way for players to form bonds while competing side-by-side with one another. Plus, you can add live scores and leaderboards alongside your chat for deeper user engagement. 

  • Support: Chat between agents and customers are pushed in real time to resolve requests quickly, which helps improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. 

  • Marketplaces: Chat between buyers and sellers builds long-lasting customer relationships by continuously engaging with consumers, notifying them of real-time pricing, updates, and relevant offers that are customized to their shopping needs. 

  • Collaboration: Chat for team communication at the workplace facilitates impactful collaboration where users can work together simultaneously in Virtual Spaces to increase productivity. 

  • Social: Chat with your online community in a way that feels organic. Whether an audience is interacting during a virtual concert, those in a fitness class are cheering on each other, or fans are celebrating a sports event, you can enable these memorable connections through chat. 

PubNub Chat API documentation: What you’ll find

Ready to add chat APIs but aren’t sure where to start? We’ve compiled a list of essential resources to give businesses the guidance needed to strategically build scalable chat apps faster. 

Find answers, read up on the best practices, and build features that align with your customers needs and business goals.

  • PubNub Docs: Explore our documentation and technical resources.

  • In-App Chat:See how you can build engaging in-app chat experiences at any scale.

  • PubNub Platform: Read about our core features such as Presence, Functions, and Access Control.  

  • PubNub for Developers:Browse our product tour, demos, and tutorials.

  • Blog: Learn about new PubNub releases, industry trends, and app development tips. 

  • How-To’s: Read our collection of guides to help you understand key concepts of building applications or architecting on PubNub. 

  • Demos: Visit our demos to get an idea of what you can build. 

  • Integrations: Discover how to integrate best-in-class third party services directly into your app.

  • Guides: Everything you need to know about building scalable real-time applications. 

  • Developer Paths: All the resources you need to quickly and easily build chat, virtual events, IoT, and more. 

Getting Started with PubNub Chat API

Whether working or socializing, chat has become a vital part of how we communicate in our everyday lives. A chat API service enables you to easily and quickly incorporate chat into your product for a more enriching and engaging user experience. 

At PubNub, we take care of the scalability and reliability so you can focus on what matters: your customers.

If you’re ready to enhance your app with chat APIs, create a free account to get started. 

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