Tag Archives: twilio

Twilio integrates with Google App Engine for cloud telephony applications

Cloud telephony company Twilio has announced a partnership with Google to integrate its API with App Engine, Google’s platform for cloud applications. Google has a clear explanation of what this enables here. You can have your application respond to incoming SMS texts or voice calls, and send an SMS back, or for voice, play messages, record the call, or ask for further digits to be pressed to route the call appropriately. You can also use the API to initiate calls or send texts.

If you look here there are how-to examples (generic to Twilio, not specific to App Engine) for some of the things you do with Twilio:

  • Automated reminder calls
  • Click to call on your web site
  • Company directory
  • IVR (Interactive Voice Response) for automated support
  • Conferencing
  • Phone polls
  • Voice mail
  • Voice transcription

and more of course. Help desk applications and other kinds of support are the most obvious applications, but there are no limits: if you want to build voice calls or SMS messaging into your app, Twilio is the obvious solution.

The relationship with Google is not exclusive. Twilio already has integration with Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. Google has one-upped Microsoft though. The Azure promotion gets you free credit for 1000 texts or minutes for Azure, while there are free 2000 texts or minutes for Google App Engine customers.

You can also use Twilio on any platform that can use a REST API. There is a module for Node.js, and libraries for PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, Java and Apex (used by Salesforce.com).

Twilio adds support for WebRTC: real time communications in JavaScript

Cloud telephony company Twilio has announced beta support for WebRTC at its conference in San Francisco.

WebRTC is a project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera and lets you do real time communications, including access to camera and microphone, using a JavaScript API without a plug-in. There is also a W3C Working Group.

WebRTC support will be a feature of the Twilio client:

When Twilio Client apps are used with a WebRTC compatible browser, such as future versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Twilio Client will automatically take advantage of the improved audio performance of the WebRTC technology. If the browser doesn’t support it, Twilio Client will still work and fall back to existing browser technologies.

says Twilio.

Other new APIs announced at the conference include Test Credentials, which lets developers test code against the Twilio API without actually placing calls; Usage for retrieving Twilio usage logs and Usage Triggers which you can use to implement usage caps in order to limit cost.

AT&T partners with Twilio to offer cloud communication apps

Telecommunications giant AT&T has partnered with Twilio to offer cloud communication apps through a web portal:

Powered by Twilio’s cloud communications services and API platform, ACS offers a Web portal for AT&T business customers to browse from a collection of voice and SMS-enabled apps — such as appointment reminder services, polling & surveying data collection tools, ad-hoc workgroup calling & messaging, business continuity, and geo-smart messaging.

When I read the announcement I was reminded of this talk by Laura Merling at the Redmonk Monki Gras conference last year:

Her final prediction? “Jeff Lawson becomes the CEO of AT&T. Why? Because the model has to change.”

Telcos have a dying business model – APIs and cloud services are the future says Alcatel-Lucent’s Laura Merling

Laura Merling from Alcatel-Lucent spoke at the Monki Gras conference in London earlier this week, saying in effect that telecommunication companies have a dying business model.

She gave a two-minute summary of Telco history.  “First it was all about voice,” she said. “Then the intertubes happened. Now you had data … then it went back to voice, the big push for wireless. Then of course wireless moved, so it’s not about voice any more, it’s about the data.”

She expects the next step to be “connected devices … the phone goes away, everything you do both data and voice happens on other devices.”

What does this mean for telcos? They have become commoditised, she said, suppliers of data plans. “It is a big commoditised business that has no real innovation.”

“In the future, the data plans dies,”, Merling says. “Think about it. How many devices have you got? Think about connecting all of those. You probably want the same data plan. But why pay for a data plan? How will telcos make money? You can’t just keep increasing the data plan.”

Instead, the money is going to come from the APIs and accessing the services.

Enter Twilio, a virtual telco. “I think of twilio as a craft telco”, said Merling, tying in with the beer theme that flowed through Monki Gras. “Do they sell hardware? No. They have software and APIs.” She says the Twilio business model scares the industry: it is based on transactions, not data plans. She also noted how old established vendors are buying up software-based providers, such as BT acquiring Ribbit and Microsoft acquiring Skype.

Tomorrow’s telco, says Merling, is a based on a software stack. “Antennas and towers are not going to go away, but the infrastructure becomes all software based … combining network services with cloud infrastructure.

“At Alcatel-Lucent we sell hardware. We sell big giant boxes. But this is where it is going.” She says the telcos are now aware of this, hence the title of her session “How telcos got API religion.”

Her final prediction? “Jeff Lawson becomes the CEO of AT&T. Why? Because the model has to change.”

It was a thought-provoking talk, though the unspoken question was whether in fact the telcos will successfully transition or whether they will simply become less important, continuing to maintain the pipes while others profit from what flows through them.

I interviewed Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson in October last year.