What is a chat API?

A chat API is an application program interface that provides access to a back-end chat service & server infrastructure with the stability and broad features required to easily embed real-time chat inside of your app at a scale suited to your needs from an intimate conversation to a very large chat group.

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What can you accomplish
with a chat API?

Chat API embraces countless use cases only limited by your imagination including ride sharing, delivery, marketplaces, communities, healthcare, education, sports, live streaming, and entertainment. It essentially allows you to implement live (sometimes asynchronous) chat and messaging within your own mobile application, website, game, or other service. It can open new customer support, and marketing channels as well as increase user engagement and retention. It emphasises the core strengths of your product. It empowers conversations.

Chat API enables new channels of communication

Power one on one chat or engage an audience of millions.

The most familiar form of online chat. Users can communicate in a game, dating-app, team collaboration app like Slack, or messenger apps.

Communication on an e-commerce platform between the platform, seller and buyer.

Communication between a service provider and a user or customer at a financial institution, healthcare provider, ride hailing service, or any other on-demand service provider.

Communication among a live audience and between broadcaster and the audience.

What should a chat API provide?

A chat API should provide
some basic features

One-on-one and group messaging, and open channel chat

Support for multiple platforms with native chat SDKs for major platforms like iOS, Android,JavaScript, and .Net

File & custom-data transfers

Chat history

Push notifications

Webhooks to receive real-time chat events and data on your server

Read receipts, delivery status, and typing indicators

Profanity filters and user blocking

Chat data analytics

Online and offline status indicators

It will likely include some
advanced features

APIs to export data and messages

Moderation tools

Auto-thumbnail generation for rich media

An interface to plug chatbots into the chat stream

Spam flood protection

File encryption

Ability to create marketing or general admin announcements

Channel auto-partitioning and smart throttling of messages


These days many use cases like food delivery and healthcare need more than chat. They also need to be able to escalate the interaction to a voice call or even a video call if something goes off plan. Video has become increasingly popular in healthcare, education, and dating to name a few industries.

Some Chat API vendors, including Sendbird, also provide a Voice API and Video API as well as part of their communication platform.

Check out these links for more information on chat APIs:

A guide to many in-app chat use cases

How to find the perfect chat API for your needs
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