What Are Communication APIs?

APIs have become relatively standard in web-based software systems. APIs enable companies to create large and small systems faster and more efficiently.

Communication APIs are simply APIs that are used in web-based communication systems. However, this is still a rather vague definition for communication APIs. To really understand what communication APIs are, it’s important to understand what an API is, in general.

## What is an API?

An API is a standardized set of programming instructions. Each API contains prewritten code that developers can insert into their own products to add capabilities without building a custom system from scratch.

For example, if a developer is building an email client, they can use a Microsoft API to quickly connect to Microsoft 365 mail, and add email sending and receiving to the software without building their own email system.

This makes development much less resource intensive and enables companies to leverage technology from other companies to build entirely new products.

## What are communication APIs?

Communication APIs are APIs developers can use to add communication capabilities to their products. SIP trunking APIs, SMS APIs, Two-way SMS APIs, and number discovery APIs are common communication APIs. Companies can use these APIs to add common communication functionalities to their products without building their own comms network.

These communications APIs enable companies to access external communication networks and define the rules for what companies can do on these communication networks. APIs also often serve as a communication connection between applications and databases.

The end result is that the user gets communication functionality from the software — the ability to send and receive texts, caller ID services, and other communications platform features — and the experience is seamless.

The end user can’t tell whether they’re using a feature that has been outsourced to another provider’s system or if it’s part of a system operated by the developer. And, on the development end, the developer can add these communication features to their platform almost by cutting and pasting snippets of code.

## Types of communication APIs

There are four primary communication APIs, which were mentioned above: SIP trunking APIs, SMS APIs, Two-way SMS APIs, and number discovery APIs. Each API serves a certain purpose. And having APIs separated by capability like this enables developers to pick and choose which communications features they need.

  • SIP trunking APIs

Sip trunking APIs enable developers to add telecom connectivity to their software, using an external network. The network operator supplies the API to the software developer. And the software developer uses the API to access the communication provider’s network as needed.

  • SMS APIs

SMS APIs give web-based software systems the ability to send SMS messages using an external SMS provider’s network. SMS APIs are primarily used for broadcasting high volumes of SMS messages in contexts where the recipients do not need to reply to the messages.

  • Two-way SMS APIs

Two-way SMS APIs are similar to SMS APIs in that they enable developers to create software that sends messages using an external SMS provider’s network. However, two-way SMS APIs also allow recipients to respond to messages, so people can have text conversations.

  • Number discovery APIs (number lookup)

The short answer is that number discovery APIs are for looking up the phone number associated with a phone call. Number lookup APIs are most common for caller ID services. However, these APIs can also be used for information delivery services that find phone numbers based on other information such as names and addresses.

## Do businesses need communication APIs?

In short, yes. Whether a business develops web-based applications that require communication functionality or not, businesses rely on communication for nearly everything.

Even businesses that are not at all involved in providing communication services often use communication APIs without even knowing it, because much of their communication software relies on communication APIs to provide comms features.

But, if you do need communication APIs for your products, Telnyx is a premier communications API provider in the world, with a purpose-built network based on a fiber optic backbones and tier-1 interconnects for industry leading performance and reliability.