What is a Chat API?

A Chat API is an Application Program Interface (API) that enables real-time messaging to a website or in-app. It facilitates communication between users, B2C, B2B, or from service provider to consumer. According to LiveChat’s 2020 Customer Service Report, “Live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction rate at 92%.”

What is a Chat API?

Did you know that Chat APIs can accommodate multiple, secure communication channels on a website or application? Not only that, Chat APIs can increase communication, boost sales, and retain customers and clients for SME and large enterprises. However, with varying types of Chat APIs, enterprises need to know the difference and select a solution best suited to their business needs.


Types of Chat APIs


Types of Chat API

Current Chat APIs leverage these technologies to provide real-time messaging:


  • HTTP Streaming
  • Ajax
  • WebSocket
  • REST
  • XMPP
  • MQTT


HTTP Streaming

Using a push-style data transfer technique, HTTP Streaming allows a web server to send continuous data to a client over a single HTTP connection. The client can instantly receive and process server updates and data without the overhead because of its persistent connection. HTTP Streaming also eliminates the need for polling and allows for real-time chat interaction.



Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax) is a web development protocol that sends and retrieves data without refreshing a webpage. In other words, clients can exchange data with the servers without having to refresh, and the website can update page content in real-time to better serve the client’s needs.



WebSocket is a transport protocol that enables bidirectional communication between a client and a server over a single TCP socket connection. With little overhead and low latency, WebSocket can therefore facilitate longer messaging sessions between clients and servers. WebSocket is built into the major web browsers and is therefore ideal for real-time, asynchronous application processes. However, developing with WebSocket has a steeper learning curve and can be challenging to build a Chat API.



The Google Chat API uses the REST technology. REST facilitates a way for bots to perform functions such as list spaces where a bot has been added, list members belonging to a space and create, delete, and modify messages. REST can easily scale horizontally on the server-side, and it is surprisingly easier to develop a Chat API. But REST uses larger payloads.



Based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), XMPP is a real-time communication protocol that can be used for Chat API, entertainment apps, and telepresence. XMPP allows heterogeneous devices to interact with each other irrespective of their underlying operating systems. XMPP is a preferred protocol because XMPP supports encryption, authentication, and access control on top of existing core protocols—making it a very secure connection. However, as a legacy protocol, XMPP requires intensive computational and memory-intensive operations. Consequently, this creates complicated, higher overhead in handling presence messages.



MQTT is a publisher/subscriber protocol because it is light-weight, scalable, and easy to use. It can support massively scalable systems with millions of users. For devices that have memory constraints, MQTT is a lighter protocol than XMPP. MQTT doesn’t define the message format like other protocols. For this reason, MQTT keeps its overhead streamlined and reduces power consumption in devices. MQTT also offers different levels of quality of service. Additionally, MQTT accommodates features like mentions, read receipts, and group/threaded messaging.

Learn how In-App Chat integrates MQTT to provide a feature-rich modular API.

Related Link: In-App Chat’s API Modules


Hosted vs On-Premise Chat APIs


Hosted Vs. On-Premise Chat API

Many enterprises choose to outsource their Chat because they need a more feature-rich modular messaging service that they don’t have time to develop and manage. Chat APIs can be installed in two different ways depending on the needs of your enterprise. Businesses can either use a hosted SaaS, where the Chat API exists on the cloud and integrates with your website or applications. Or companies can opt to install the Chat API on-premise instead for a more secure, dedicated messaging service.


Hosted Chat API Installation

A hosted Chat API exists on a third-party remote server. Companies can then pay a subscription fee to access the SaaS. There are several benefits for SMEs and large enterprises to install a Hosted Chat API solution:


  • Quick installation and integration
  • Unlimited messaging and retention time
  • A pay-as-needed or customizable functionality
  • Scales easily
  • More cost-effective
  • Auto Cluster Deployment
  • SLA uptime guarantees
  • Customizable workflows
  • Supports Migration


On-Premise Installation

Conversely, on-premise Chat API installs the software onto a company’s local servers. For large companies or channels with very sensitive data, an on-premise Chat API installation offers:


  • Private deployment
  • Low TCO
  • Reliable connection and functionality
  • Faster data speeds
  • High levels of control and security over user data
  • Protected by internal firewalls
  • Customizable to fit enterprise needs

Related Link: Flexible Deployment Plans


How a Chat API Will Elevate Your Business

A 2020 survey from 99 Firms found, “71% of businesses believe online chat will surpass traditional customer service communication channels by 2021.” Offering Chat API through your website or applications has significant benefits, such as:


  • Build better communication internally
  • Provide quality customer service to clients/customers
  • Share secure data
  • Increase sales
  • Retain customers
  • Decrease website abandonment
  • Increase interaction

A survey from Zendesk found, “48% of consumers favor companies with proactive support.” In today’s economy, SME and large enterprises need to implement a Chat API to stay competitive in the marketplace and also satisfy customer demands in real-time. Ultimately, enterprises that don’t offer chat endpoints are leaving money on the table.

How a company implements a Chat API depends on its company’s goals and needs for real-time messaging. When selecting a Chat API, make sure it offers customizable or modular features to meet your communication needs. Additionally, Chat APIs should have an easy-to-use administrative interface. In-App Chat provides modular Chat APIs that you can tailor fit to meet your needs. And of course, our solutions support the most common platforms, including IOS and Android.

Are you in need of a turn-key, customizable, and feature-rich Chat API SDK to fit your business’s growing demands? In-App Chat offers Cloud-based and On-Premise Chat solutions.


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