Twilio Launches IP Messaging, New Conference Call Services And High-Volume SMS Tools

Twilio is kicking off its Signal conference today and — unsurprisingly — the company is announcing a slew of new services for developers that use its voice, video and messaging platform.

Maybe the most important new services out of the eight new tools the company is announcing today is the Twilio IP Messaging service. In many ways, this completes the company’s suite of communication tools. Until now, the service mostly focused on voice, video and SMS/MMS messaging, but with this new service, developers can now build WhatsApp-like messaging into any of their apps.

IP Messaging

As Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson told me, the service will offer all the standard features that developers will likely want to build into their apps, including read and write indicators, support for multi-party chat, push notifications and others.

“When you couple that with the video product we announced last month, you now have a complete suite for software-based communications,” Lawson said. “We are moving from a world where you did all of your communications in one app to a world where communication is rolled into any app you would use.”

Say you call your bank from inside its mobile app, for example. They would automatically know who you are, because you already logged into the app and authenticated there. Then, the agent could bring up a keypad on your phone to have you type in a number using Twilio’s messaging service.

Twilio isn’t announcing pricing for this service yet, but judging from Lawson’s reaction when I asked him about it, the company will likely not opt for the standard per-messaging price most of its competitors would charge.

The IP Messaging service will use the same SDK as Twilio’s recently launched video service and run on the same infrastructure.

Conference Calls

The other new services include two VoIP conference call services that developers will be able to add to their apps. The first one, Global Conference, allows for audio conference calls with up to 250 participants. The calls are automatically hosted in the closest of the six geographic regions Twilio currently offers to keep latency down. Historically, Twilio did all of its audio mixing in a data center in Virginia, but in order to scale its service, it had to bring this tool closer to the participants.

For calls with more than 250 participants (think earnings calls, all-hands meetings when Verizon buys you, etc.), Twilio’s new “Epic Conference” service can now handle an unlimited number of participants. What exactly “unlimited” means in this context remains to be tested, but Lawson argues that Twilio will be able to scale this service up “forever.”


Another new service Twilio announced today is its new Copilot tool for traditional SMS messaging. As Lawson told me, getting started with SMS messaging on Twilio is easy enough, but as you start building more sophisticated applications and try to scale them globally, developers have to manually build the logic that handles all of the edge cases that arise. In the U.S., for example, you can only send one SMS per second from any given number.

To work around that, developers have to then provision more numbers, for example. Now, with Copilot, the service can automate all of this so developers who forget about this limit won’t find themselves staring at a long messaging queue and won’t have to build this feature in-house. The service will also automatically use local numbers in the countries Twilio operates in and provision local shortcodes as necessary (Twilio now owns 70 percent of the shortcode market in the U.S., Lawson tells me).



Twilio is also announcing a new operational monitoring service today (aptly named Twilio Monitoring) for allowing IT teams to track usage, check for potential security holes and audit their Twilio apps for compliance.

The overall theme for these new services is clearly “scale.” Most of these new services leverage and showcase Twilio’s global infrastructure. Besides that, though, Lawson has also been highlighting the concept of composable applications lately and I assume he’ll do so at the Signal confab as well. The idea here is that developers can now build their apps from Legos-like components that they can pick and choose as necessary to assemble and reassemble their apps.

“We are all builders because of Lego — and because of APIs, companies are turning into builders, too,” he told me. To survive every company has be become a builder — and Twilio wants to provide them with the building blocks.