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In this guide, we’ll walk you through how a real-time messaging API works and how it adds value to your platform.

In our fast-paced digital world, messaging apps are a large part of our everyday lives. If you ask any friend or family member if they’ve used an app today to send or receive a message, there is a high likelihood that the answer is yes. 

From WhatsApp, to Facebook Messenger, to Android or iOS text messaging, people use various messaging services daily to communicate back and forth. And when sending messages on these apps, people generally expect that the same immediate response of an in-person interaction is reflected through their virtual conversation. This is where a real-time messaging API comes in. 

A messaging API typically refers to any service that provides developers with the building blocks they need to program messaging capabilities in an application. Differing from chat APIs, messaging APIs often include MMS and SMS messages, as well as instant messaging. Messaging APIs are important because they allow you to quickly and securely send messages without having to focus on backend systems, since the infrastructure is ready to use. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how messaging APIs add value to your platform, allowing you to retain full control, while customizing your functionality to fit the needs of your users. 

What can you do with a Messaging API?

Reliable messaging APIs allow you to send and receive messages globally, reaching users anywhere in the world. This is done by having data pushed to users or devices in real time. For example, PubNub uses a Pub/Sub Messaging approach that gives you the ability to continuously stream data as it occurs, from any number of users or devices. 

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With this approach, you have multiple options for how to send and receive data through your platform. You can trigger messages and user actions through JavaScript business logic, deliver low latency messaging, or implement custom functions with our serverless environment to provide a personalized experience for your users. 

Common capabilities of a Messaging API

Sending messages in a private chat or group chat: Users can interact with one another directly or in a group chat by sending and replying to chat messages in real time. This helps foster an engaging conversation by capturing that immediacy from users, keeping them invested in your chat instead of external messaging apps. 

Sending various types of messages and reactions to users in a channel: Users can send message types and reactions like text messages, GIFs, emojis, audio messages, or image and video messages. By implementing custom in-app messaging features, it adds value to your messaging app by providing interactive features for users to engage with one another. 

Bulk SMS messages tailored to individual users: This is a popular use case to reach customers through marketing or promotional text messaging services. Messaging providers like WhatsApp and Twilio are other common SMS APIs that provide this functionality. 

Message delivery and read receipts: More commonly used in one-to-one chats and small group chats, delivery and read receipts indicate that a message has been delivered or that a user has read the message. 

Chat message history: This functionality stores the messages on a channel in which the messages are published. This tends to be beneficial for users, because they are able to see the time of a sent message and view any message history. 

Push notifications and alerts to reach customers: This capability provides a way to reach customers on your platform anywhere and anytime by sending in-app notifications alongside real-time messaging to increase user engagement. For instance, you can utilize push notifications to provide real-time updates for industries like live events or delivery tracking, or customize them to fit the needs of your specific use case. 

There’s a variety of messaging API features you can add to your app that can help you deliver the chat experience that your users expect right from the start, while also giving you full control on the backend to implement features custom to your use case. 

How Messaging APIs can add value to your use case

Messaging APIs can add value to your use case by giving you the ability to enhance the user experience. Whether it’s simply sending a bulk SMS message to an iOS phone number or sharing humorous GIFs among user communities, messaging APIs provide your users with interactive features and give you full control to customize your in-app experience the way you want. 

Below, we’ll explore some popular use cases and how you can easily add programmable APIs to your in-app messaging.  

Social interactions 

From live concerts to dating apps, real-time messaging features can be implemented in a private or group chat to show user activity on your platform. For instance, you may have noticed on some messaging apps that a typing indicator is displayed when a user is actively typing a message, or that a read receipt appears in a chat when your message has been delivered and read. Messaging features that show real-time activity can lead to an increased user engagement on your platform by providing a way for users to instantly interact with one another. 

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Transportation and delivery 

Transportation and delivery apps like ride-sharing or food delivery services can use messaging APIs to track live updates and send messages in real-time. Using functions to send SMS, receive SMS, and push out notifications to users, these features give customers the ability to see up-to-date information so they can track and manage the service being delivered—providing real-time visibility into the delivery process from start to finish.  

Gaming experiences 

Keeping players continuously engaged in the gaming experience is crucial. By enabling device and user presence for your in-game chat, you can detect the online/offline status of players, get a real-time player count, and deliver instant updates with webhooks when a user state changes. This helps to increase user engagement and ensure real-time connectivity among players. 

E-learning and digital collaboration

Additionally, messaging APIs can be implemented in e-learning and collaborative spaces to ensure messages are delivered quickly for improved productivity. This is essential when dealing with multiple users and devices. With PubNub, you can securely deliver messages without latency issues, no matter how many devices are connected on the PubNub data stream network using long-polling, WebSockets, and MQTT to transmit data quickly. So as users increase or fluctuate, you can easily scale to meet the needs of your platform as it evolves. 

Ultimately, by adding messaging APIs to your application, you can build customizable solutions that are fast and reliable—enhancing the overall user experience on your platform. 

Deliver secure and scalable experiences with PubNub 

From multiplayer games to digital collaboration, messaging APIs help power virtual spaces across many industries by providing real-time activity that resembles face-to-face interaction. 

PubNub’s real-time communication platform offers easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and pre-built components that are designed to give your developers the tools they need to build engaging experiences right from the start. With our powerful and secure Pub/Sub Messaging APIs, you can send and receive data to any number of users and devices simultaneously. 

By customizing your messaging app, you add value to your platform by providing real-time features for your use cases that enable user engagement. 

If you’re looking to add real-time messaging capabilities to your platform, you can get started with these resources: 

When building with PubNub, you get a reliable and scalable platform, all while retaining full control over your functionality. This allows you to focus on your core product offering instead of backend infrastructure so you can deliver a personalized in-app experience with robust messaging capabilities to your users. 

Talk to our experts

Ready to implement reliable, real-time messaging features? Get in touch with one of our experts. We’ll quickly get you up and running with customizable features for your app.  

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