10 best instant messaging SDKs and real-time chat APIs in 2024

Sara Ana Cemazar
February 13, 2024
min read

For businesses all throughout the world, fast and secure communication is fundamental. 

With over 3.21 billion active users engaging in over-the-top messaging apps daily, the significance of real-time chat solutions continues to surge. 

In this scenario, leveraging real-time chat APIs and instant messaging SDKs has become critical. These technologies provide a streamlined method of communication, whether it is for smooth customer service or internal cooperation.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the realm of instant messaging SDKs and real-time chat APIs, presenting the top 10 providers in the market for 2024. 

What are instant messaging SDKs and APIs?

Instant messaging SDKs and APIs serve as the backbone for building robust real-time chat platforms. 

These tools streamline the development process by managing the infrastructure needed for seamless message transmission and reception. They also incorporate essential chat features like direct and group messaging, push notifications, and more.

Whether it's ensuring real-time communication between team members or engaging customers through interactive chat interfaces, these SDKs provide the necessary tools to create high-performing applications that elevate communication standards. 

Best instant messaging SDKs

Explore the top instant messaging SDKs for seamless chat integration and enhanced communication experiences.

1. Rocket.Chat

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Rocket.Chat is a leading open-source chat service and communication platform designed to help companies and organizations correspond effectively. It prioritizes adaptability and extensive customization by delivering self-hosted and cloud-based deployment options that provide scalability and control over the chat environment. 

Offering advanced Data Loss Prevention controls and over 180 custom roles, Rocket.Chat also ensures efficient and secure conversation management. 

Key features:

  • Private and group messaging capabilities.
  • Includes support for microservices architecture, multiple server instances,  and sophisticated user management with an option to add guest users, improving flexibility for varied communication needs.
  • Seamless file-sharing functionality.
  • Increased adaptability in terms of integration and modification with current systems.
  • Read receipts to track message acknowledgment.
  • Enhanced tools for meeting regulatory and compliance standards.
  • Priority assistance and account management access is available.

Best for Industries:

  • Government
  • Defense
  • Healthcare

2. Firebase

Firebase, powered by Google, stands as a comprehensive app development platform renowned for its seamless integration and replacement of traditional backend services. 

With a suite of functionalities, including authentication, push notifications, and a Cloud Firestore database, Firebase simplifies the process of developing real-time chat applications.

Key features:

  • Secure and simple user authentication supports various login methods.
  • Cloud-hosted NoSQL database enabling real-time data sync across devices.
  • Detailed crash reporting and analysis for rapid issue resolution.
  • Cloud-based testing across multiple devices and configurations.

Best for industries:

  • Technology
  • Software development
  • Web development

3. Apphitect

Apphitect stands as a leading provider of group chat APIs, offering highly customizable chat solutions with advanced features. With a focus on flexibility and innovation, It enables developers to create captivating applications with seamless messaging capabilities.

Key features:

  • In-app chat functionality for real-time communication.
  • Social integrations for enhanced user interactions.
  • Geolocation tracking for location-based services.
  • Multimedia sharing, including screen sharing, for comprehensive collaboration.

Best for industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Gaming
  • Online marketplace
  • Telecom

4. MirrorFly

instant messaging SDK

MirrorFly, with its fully configurable messaging solutions, distinguishes itself as a top provider of self-hosted and SaaS chat APIs and messaging SDKs. It offers more than 150 chat capabilities, such as proactive chat, file and screen sharing, and push alerts, to meet the varied communication demands of different businesses.

Key features:

  • VoIP calling and live broadcasting for enriched user experiences.
  • Multi-channel compatibility to reach users across platforms.
  • Screen sharing for seamless collaboration.
  • Customizable UI/UX designs for brand identity.

Best for industries:

  • Telemedicine
  • Transportation
  • Telecom
  • FinTech

5. PubNub

With a 99.999% API uptime, PubNub is a premier real-time messaging API known for its cutting-edge capabilities and outstanding dependability. The tool also meets a wide range of communication needs in various industries by providing an extensive array of chat services such as unread message counts, file and image sharing, and message reactions.

Key features:

  • Readymade UI designs for easy integration and customization.
  • Chatbots for automated interactions and enhanced user experiences.
  • Live event messaging capabilities for engaging audience participation.
  • Multi-channel communication to reach users across platforms.

Best for industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Social networking
  • Online marketplace
  • Gaming
  • Live events

6. Sendbird

instant messaging SDK

As a top supplier of real-time chat SDKs, Sendbird enables app developers to incorporate chat features easily into their applications. Sendbird offers strong security for user communications with AES 256 end-to-end encryption.  

Key features:

  • User muting and image filtering for enhanced moderation.
  • Spam protection and smart throttling to maintain chat quality.
  • Profanity filters and announcements for a controlled chat environment.
  • Management of moderator roles and permissions for efficient moderation.

Best for industries:

  • Transportation
  • FinTech
  • Healthcare
  • Gaming

7. CometChat

instant messaging sdk

CometChat distinguishes itself as a top-tier real-time chat API provider, boasting cross-platform interoperability and outstanding scaling. CometChat provides modern messaging solutions to organizations of all kinds, from small startups to huge corporations. 

Notably, it offers a special package called 'Sandbox' that is designed specifically for individuals and small businesses.

Key features:

Best for industries:

  • Online marketplace
  • Edu-tech
  • Live-streaming platforms

8. GetStream

Stream is a leading provider of chat APIs and UI components, offering developers the tools they need to seamlessly embed live chat into their web and mobile applications. 

With Stream, developers can create chat experiences enriched with features like typing indicators, user presence, threaded conversations, push notifications, message and user moderation, reactions, and @user and @channel mentions, delivering everything expected from a modern chat app.

Key features:

  • Seamless integration with Flutter apps.
  • Real-time data synchronization for instant updates.
  • Developer-friendly APIs and documentation.
  • Activity feed integration for social and interactive applications.

Best for industries:

  • Social networking
  • E-learning
  • Online marketplace

9. Ably 

Ably is a leading provider of reliable real-time experience infrastructure, trusted by companies for building fully-featured and dependable chat applications

With Ably's API, developers gain access to essential features such as publish and subscribe functions, presence indicators, message history, and push notifications. With low latency, guaranteed message ordering, and a 99.999% uptime SLA, Ably ensures exceptional reliability. 

Key features:

  • Seamless API integration for smooth application implementation.
  • Fast API call speeds, enabling real-time communication with minimal latency.
  • 1:1 or group chat settings with additional data like user typing indicators.
  • Comprehensive support options such as documentation.

Best for industries:

  • FinTech
  • SaaS
  • Sports
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare

10. Twilio

instant messaging SDK

Twilio stands out as a programmable instant messaging API, offering advanced software to empower message delivery across multiple channels while adhering to compliance standards. 

Capable of facilitating over 795 billion interactions with a remarkable 99.999% API uptime, it ensures reliable, high-volume messaging.

Key features:

  • Orchestrates messaging campaigns across diverse channels for maximum reach.
  • Provides robust security with two-factor authentication solutions.
  • Facilitates the transmission of multimedia content for enriched messaging experiences.
  • Sends timely alerts and updates to keep stakeholders informed.

Best for industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Finance
  • E-commerce
  • Retail
  • Real estate

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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