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What Is The Best Chat API of 2023?


Looking for a guide to the best chat API?

One that isn’t full of marketing fluff and gets straight down to the business of valuable comparisons and info?

You’re in the right place.

Chat APIs are instrumental in powering real-time messaging, a feature now expected in digital applications. They bring a level of engagement and interaction that can significantly enhance user experience. The ability to communicate in real-time not only fosters community but also drives user retention.

In this guide, we’ll compare the relevant benefits, feature set, pricing, and UX and customization info for each of the top chat APIs – Sceyt, Sendbird, PubNub, CometChat, Twilio, and GetStream.

This comparison aims to provide a clear perspective, enabling you to make an informed decision on the chat API that would best suit your application's needs, and ultimately save you valuable time in the selection process.

Evaluating Top Contenders for Best Chat API

In this section, we’re going to weigh up the top chat APIs based on six criteria. The criteria has been chosen to carefully determine the effectiveness of each chat API for your application. By the end of this comparison article, you’ll be able to choose the chat API most suitable for your needs. Criteria includes:

  • Reliability and Speed - Real-time chat depends on immediacy. Laggy or unresponsive in-app chat leads to user frustration, negative reviews, and increased user churn. This is especially true in use cases that demand immediate response times such as live streaming and gaming. If a high degree of reliability and speed is important for your app, then make sure to pay particular attention to this criteria.
  • Scalability - Ideally, a chat API should scale up effortlessly to accommodate a growing user base. For instance, if an app experiences a sudden influx of users due to a viral marketing campaign or other factors, you need a chat solution that can cope. Scalability ensures chat reliability and efficiency, even as user numbers rise rapidly.
  • Feature Set - Having the right feature set can save weeks, or even months, of development time. Look for a solution that’s equipped to meet your needs. A lack of necessary features may cost you more in terms of both the time and money spent on developing custom solutions.
  • Pricing - Pricing transparency is important, especially for startups or early-stage apps that are working to a tight budget. Unpredictable costs might put a strain on project resources.
  • Customization - Good user experience relies on brand consistency. That’s why the ability to customize the chat UI to align with your brand aesthetics is an advantage. The last thing you want is to struggle with your API to make the chat feature align with the look and feel of your app.
  • Compliance - Compliance with legal and data protection standards is a must, especially when dealing with sensitive data. Ensuring compliance with standards like HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, and GDPR is essential to avoid legal problems that might arise from data mishandling.

Best Chat APIs of 2023

In this section, we’ll individually evaluate each of the top best chat API contenders based on the criteria outlined previously. This will provide a clearer picture of where each platform excels and where they may fall short. By the end of this section, you’ll be able to make an informed choice as to which chat API to choose.

1. Sceyt

  • Reliability and Speed
    • Architecture that supports millions of users in a single channel with no noticeable performance decline. Maintains real-time speed even at massive scale.
    • Proven to handle rapid user base growth effortlessly, making it a reliable choice for popular apps.
  • Scalability
    • Architecture that supports millions of users in a single channel with no noticeable performance decline. Maintains real-time speed even at massive scale.
    • Proven to handle rapid user base growth effortlessly, making it a reliable choice for popular apps.
  • Feature Set
    • Full core feature set available at every price point
    • Advanced features include user privacy controls, private chat folders, built-in message forwarding, on-device thumbnail generation, and more, saving significant custom coding time and resources.
    • Continually updated with new features to address the evolving needs of modern apps, ensuring a future-proof solution.
  • Pricing
    • Offers transparent, usage-based pricing making cost prediction easier and ensuring no hidden charges as your user base grows.
    • Competitive pricing structure designed to cater to a range of business sizes and needs.
  • Customization
    • Provides extensive white-labeling and UI customization options through a modern, highly customizable UI Kit. This enables a coherent brand experience.
    • Flexible API and SDK design allows for deep customization to match brand aesthetics and specific functional requirements, shortening development cycles.
  • Compliance
    • HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, and GDPR compliance are built into all plans by default.

2. Sendbird

  • Reliability and Speed
    • Promises a robust infrastructure designed for reliability, yet may encounter lag during high load periods which could potentially affect user experience during peak usage times due to the JSON protocol.
    • Built with an aim to maintain a steady performance, but lacks the advanced binary protocol seen in Sceyt, which may lead to occasional latency issues.
  • Scalability
    • Sendbird uses dynamic partitioning, sub-groups, and supergroups (which are only available in higher pricing tiers) to allow up to 60,000 users in a group chat.
    • By comparison, Sceyt enables millions of users in a single channel across all price points with no need to manage lots of smaller channels.
    • Sendbird charges overages for platforms anticipating rapid user base growth.
  • Feature Set
    • Provides a solid core of messaging features essential for basic chat functionalities, but lacks some advanced offerings that could enhance user engagement and privacy.
    • May require additional development work to integrate advanced chat features or functionalities that are not included out of the box.
  • Pricing
    • Pricing structure is less transparent with custom quotes based on expected usage, which could lead to unpredictability in costs and budgeting challenges.
    • Transparent pricing plans, but not all core features are available on all plans. Additionally, after hitting 5% of concurrent users, there are overage charges.
  • Customization
    • Allows for some level of branding customization like icons and colors to maintain brand consistency, but may lack deeper UI customization options as their UI Kits are closed source. Sceyt on the other hand offers community-driven open source kits which are eligible for forking and deep modification.
    • Provides a decent level of customization to match brand aesthetics but may not offer the extensive UI Kit and white-labeling options provided by Sceyt.
  • Compliance
    • Includes HIPAA compliance and other security certifications like SOC2.
  • Deeper analysis of Sendbird compared to Sceyt

3. PubNub

  • Reliability and Speed
    • Speed and reliability are good, even for large platforms. However, the JSON protocol isn’t as fast as Sceyt’s proprietary binary messaging protocol.
  • Scalability
    • Scalability to millions of users overall is a strong point.
    • Designed to scale up without disruption.
  • Feature Set
    • Puts a stronger emphasis on real-time data streaming over robust chat features, which could limit chat functionality out of the box.
    • The feature set may cater to specific use cases but might lack some comprehensive chat functionalities seen in other APIs.
  • Pricing
    • À la carte pricing based on individual usage metrics which can make costs unpredictable. This means that you pay a small amount for each action a user takes, such as sending a message or receiving delivery receipts and reactions.
    • The pricing model may require careful monitoring and management to ensure cost-effectiveness and avoid budget overruns.
  • Customization
    • Offers plugins for basic styling, but focuses more on core infrastructure than UI, which might limit customization options.
    • May necessitate additional development work to achieve a desired level of customization and branding consistency.
  • Compliance
    • Includes HIPAA compliance and advanced security certifications.
  • Deeper analysis of PubNub compared to Sceyt

4. CometChat

  • Reliability and Speed
    • Boasts a robust infrastructure designed for steady performance, though may face higher latency due to its JSON-based protocol, which could impact real-time communication responsiveness.
  • Scalability
    • Faces challenges in supporting large channels over 100,000 users and imposes limits on concurrent members, which may pose scalability issues for rapidly growing platforms.
    • Scalability measures may require a review to accommodate a large influx of users without performance degradation.
  • Feature Set
    • Offers a broad spectrum of features catering to various chat functionalities, but misses out on some features in its basic packages, possibly necessitating upgrades or additional development.
    • While covering a wide array of chat functionalities, may require a higher tier plan to unlock certain advanced features, potentially impacting budget.
  • Pricing
    • Pricing tiers escalate steeply with the addition of more users, and core features like search require stepping up to more expensive plans, potentially impacting cost-effectiveness.
    • The pricing model may require careful budget allocation, especially for platforms anticipating a significant user base growth.
  • Customization
    • Provides a level of customization with its UI Kits but limits more advanced skinning and styling options, which may restrict branding consistency and user experience enhancement.
  • Compliance
    • Charges an extra fee for HIPAA compliance, though includes SOC2 and ISO certifications.
  • Deeper analysis of CometChat compared to Sceyt

5. Twilio

  • Reliability and Speed
    • Ensures reliable and speedy in-app chat through its programmable infrastructure, enhancing real-time communication and user satisfaction.
    • However, the JSON messaging protocol means that there could be lag issues, especially in low connectivity regions.
  • Scalability
    • Built to scale to enterprise-level user volumes, albeit with limitations on individual channel sizes and a maximum of 1,000 users in a single channel.
  • Feature Set
    • Provides basic messaging features, but lacks message reactions and user mentions, which are standard with other chat APIs, including Sceyt. It also lacks more advanced organization features such as chat folders and moderation tools.
  • Pricing
    • Adopts a usage-based pricing model which can be unpredictable for high volumes, potentially impacting budget predictability.
    • The pricing structure may necessitate a careful monitoring of usage to avoid unexpected costs, especially for platforms with a large user base.
  • Customization
    • The lack of UI Kits means that developers need to build the chat UI from scratch.
    • Lack of customization kits potentially impacts brand consistency and user experience.
  • Compliance
    • Meets key compliance standards like HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, and GDPR.
  • Deeper analysis of Twilio compared to Sceyt

6. GetStream

  • Reliability and Speed
    • Delivers real-time chat functionality, although partial WebSocket support might introduce latency issues, potentially affecting the immediacy of message delivery, as does the JSON protocol.
    • The real-time chat experience is aimed at keeping users engaged, but the potential for latency might need addressing to maintain high user satisfaction levels.
  • Scalability
    • Imposes a restriction on concurrent users to just 5% of the total active user base, with overage charges for going above this limit.
    • The scalability aspect may require a re-evaluation to accommodate a growing user base without imposing restrictions on user engagement.
  • Feature Set
    • Provides foundational features such as messaging and group chat but lacks in advanced customization and organizational features, potentially necessitating additional development efforts.
  • Pricing
    • Offers clear pricing tiers but the limitation on concurrent users could lead to potential add-on fees, impacting the overall cost-effectiveness.
  • Customization
    • Provides the ability to custom style chat elements, allowing for a degree of branding alignment and user interface customization.
  • Compliance
    • Complies with key industry standards including SOC2, ISO, and HIPAA, ensuring a strong foundation in data protection and regulatory adherence.
  • Deeper analysis of GetStream compared to Sceyt

Comparison Summary

Reliability and SpeedHigh (Binary Protocol)Moderate (JSON Protocol)Moderate(JSON Protocol)Moderate (JSON Protocol)Moderate (JSON Protocol)Moderate(JSON Protocol)
ScalabilityHigh (Millions per channel)Limited to 60,000 of users in ‘supergroups’High (Millions per channel)Low (>100,000 per channel)Low(1000 per channel)High (Millions per channel)
Feature SetHigh (Advanced Features)ModerateLow (Data Streaming Focus)HighLow (Basic Features)Moderate
PricingTransparent (Usage-based)Tiered with overage chargesÀ la CarteSteep IncreaseUsage-basedTiered (Concurrent Limit)
CustomizationHigh (Full White-labeling)ModerateLow (Basic Styling)ModerateNo UI KitsModerate
ComplianceHigh (HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, GDPR)High (HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, GDPR)High (HIPAA, SOC2, ISO2700, GDPR)Moderate (Extra Fee for HIPAA)High (HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, GDPR)High (HIPAA, SOC2, ISO27001, GDPR)

Why Sceyt Stands Out As The Best Chat API

Sceyt is a standout contender in the race for the best chat API of 2023. Sceyt leads in many key areas for delivering a high-quality user experience. Sceyt is especially strong in the following areas:

  • Speed - With its unique binary messaging protocol, Sceyt ensures virtually zero latency. This enables a lag-free, real-time chat experience that is good for use cases that demand immediate response times like live streaming and gaming.
  • Scalability - Sceyt's well-designed architecture supports millions of users in a single channel with no performance decline. This allows it to maintain real-time speed even at a large scale. Other APIs impose limits on users per channel, effectively restricting growth when your app gains traction.
  • Core Features Across All Pricing Plans - Sceyt's feature-rich offering includes private chat folders, built-in message forwarding, on-device thumbnail generation, and advanced user privacy controls, among others. These features save you a lot of custom coding, time, and money.
  • Pricing Clarity - Sceyt's transparent pricing is usage-based, with all of the core features included at every price point. This contrasts with some other chat APIs that offer pricing based on custom quotes or à la carte models. This can lead to unexpected extra costs.
  • Customization - Brand consistency is vital for good UX. Sceyt understands this well. It enables full UI customization to match your brand theme through a modern UI Kit.
  • Compliance - HIPAA compliance is built into all plans by default, along with other security certifications like SOC2, ISO27001, and GDPR. Sceyt ensures that your chat feature adheres to stringent data protection and privacy standards. This is especially important in sensitive industries such as healthcare and financial services.

Sceyt is the ideal in-app chat solution for any app, whether you're just starting up or managing an established platform. Its blend of technical efficiency, enhanced user experience, and transparent pricing makes it the perfect candidate for best chat API.

Experience Sceyt’s powerful chat features by trying the demo app here.

Once you’ve seen Sceyt in action, take the next step to level up your app’s chat feature by starting a free trial.