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Twilio or Zoom: Which is Best for Building Communication Features in Your App?

By Nick Epson on May 26, 2020

The most important tools for business are arguably those that allow us to collaborate from wherever we might be – communication platforms are invaluable to business on multiple levels but we tend to mostly focus on video or voice calling of the many features offered by the various platforms on the market. While platforms like Twilio and Zoom have been a business staple for calling, tailoring their inner components for custom use is where these products shine.

Video and voice conferencing are great but other, less obvious tools within these platforms are just as important as they prove useful in automation which allows businesses to operate in a more lean fashion. Here, we’ll take a quick look at Twilio and Zoom which we feel are the top platforms for enabling communication in new websites and apps.

The value integrating communication platforms in your app

As we’ve discussed in the past, communication is the most important element in building a great culture. Because we are a completely remote company – and have been since our inception 10 years ago – we have had ampoule time to explore various solutions and assess their value in all kinds of scenarios.

There are a few reasons you may want to embed, say, video calling into your platform. For example, you could be building a comprehensive recruitment platform that connects talent with employers and recruiters – when it comes time for interviews, what could be better than offering a solid video conferencing app as part of your platform?

While video calling is great, it’s not necessary for every app. Other communication platforms from top providers like Zoom and Twilio are useful for different scenarios. Tools that automate tasks like sending SMS responses, chatting with customers, handling emails, and more allow businesses to operate leaner by handing these processes over to software.

A rundown of Twilio and Zoom

There are a ton of great communication platforms on the market but we’re going to focus on our preferred platforms, Twilio and Zoom, as their ability to integrate into apps as modules offer businesses substantial flexibility in building custom communication solutions.

Twilio overview

Twilio is a popular communication system that’s used around the globe by larger businesses for video, voice, and messaging. As such, the platform is designed to cater to large user bases which makes it perfect for apps with large user bases that need a communication platform.

Like many other teleconferencing service providers, Twilio offers a wide array of communication tools for text messaging between users, outbound messaging, voice calling, video calling, automated email, and much more. Like their competitors Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and others, every communication tool you can imagine is available through Twilio.

The Twilio pricing model is transparent, albeit, a little confusing if you haven’t priced out other VoIP solutions. For developers and decision-makers, this can give an outline as to how much the projected costs could be for using Twilio as an integration.

Getting started with Twilio is considered easier than some other platforms as developers simply need to sign up for an account to get access to the SDK and API. From here, developers can take advantage of the REST API to begin programming a custom integration for their platform at no cost.

Zoom overview

The Zoom platform has become quite popular in recent times – it’s a tool that we use here at Blue Label Labs to chat among ourselves as well as with clients.

Zoom allows users to easily connect through their video conferencing app or over the web. Like Skype and other solutions, users can message while connected, use the voice and video features, share files, send messages, and also share screens. 

Developers can build Zoom into an application by taking advantage of the Zoom API.  Developer access to the API and SDK can be obtained by signing up for the Pro account at $14.99 (or a higher tier) which provides access to all the tools they need. This gives access to all the features that Zoom offers, enabling the integration of any (or every) feature offered by Zoom.

It’s important to note that the Zoom API isn’t all that powerful. It mostly allows you to mirror what the Zoom app does meaning it basically becomes a UI replacement. The Zoom API provides the capability to build tailored experiences for automating the creating of meetings and provisioning of resources from within your own app.

Twilio or Zoom?

Both communication platforms have a lot to offer but we prefer to use Twilio for the digital products we build at Blue Label Labs.

The Zoom API is mostly centered on integrating meeting functionality into an app. This is ideal for an app that requires users to frequently call each other or conduct video meetings in a conference like model. They also offer other tools like instant messaging and automation for tasks like auto receptionists and chatbot messages.

Zoom gives developers access to protocols like OAuth 2.0 or JWT that enables user authentication using a backend identifier made available to the API which works with access and refresh tokens to secure a session. This makes activating and using this feature of an app for end-users secure and seamless. From here, devs can get started on building a Zoom-based integration for their app based on the needs of their users.

Twilio is a one-stop-shop for communication platform, offering all the same tools as Zoom but through a more developed, rock-solid API. For starters, their Programmable Video and Programmable Voice modules act as drop-in solutions for video and voice calling, respectively. Programmable SMS makes it easy for developers to build a solution for sending and receiving messages where the complexity of the mobile carrier side is handled on the backend by Twilio.

Twilio owns SendGrid which enables developers to program automated, transactional messaging for marketing email campaigns. Their ownership of Authy means that users can seamlessly and securely log in to use communication features.

Finally, Twilio isn’t build around the concept of meetings and conferences, rather it enables streaming through an independent model. If you’re looking to build something similar to Facetime or Google Hangouts then it has Zoom beat in this area as well.

Both platforms offer a ton of communication modules through the API, more than we discuss in-depth here. We urge anyone considering building an app to explore available options to select the best platform for their app’s needs. 

Get in touch with Blue Label Labs to discuss your app idea

By using one of the above platforms, your organization will be equipped to communicate no matter where your users reside. Reach out to us at Blue Label Labs to learn more about our process in designing world-class digital products.

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