6 best PubNub alternatives in 2024

Sara Ana Cemazar
June 13, 2023
min read

Integrating chat functionalities into applications has become necessary for many product managers. Among the leading chat API providers, PubNub has carved a name for itself, offering simplified chat and messaging features through its Rest API. 

Recently, PubNub raised $65 million in a Series E funding round, highlighting its strong growth and market interest in this space.

While PubNub's success is undeniable, the market for open-source PubNub alternatives is gaining momentum. Several competitors are emerging, offering API-based messaging and communication services for digital businesses. 

This blog post delves into the top open-source PubNub alternatives in 2024, providing valuable insights to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get started.

What is PubNub?

PubNub is a real-time messaging and data streaming platform that provides developers with a set of APIs and infrastructure to build and expand interactive applications.

Key features of PubNub

The main functionalities of PubNub include the following:

  • Pub/Sub Messaging: PubNub uses a publish/subscribe model, where messages are published to channels and then delivered to subscribers who have expressed interest in those channels.
  • Presence Detection: PubNub provides presence detection capabilities, allowing developers to know who is currently connected to their application in real-time.
  • Data Streams: PubNub enables the streaming of data in real-time, making it easy to send and receive data updates between devices and servers.
  • Functions: PubNub offers serverless Functions that allow developers to run custom logic on the PubNub network. Functions can be used to process and transform data, trigger actions, and implement business rules without the need for server infrastructure.

PubNub use-cases

PubNub's platform is used in a wide range of use cases and industries, including

  • Real-time chat and messaging applications.
  • Collaborative applications such as real-time document editing, multiplayer games, shared whiteboards, and collaborative project management tools.
  • IoT applications for remote monitoring, device control, and real-time data visualization.
  • It is ideal for applications that require live updates and notifications, such as news and sports updates, stock market tracking, and real-time dashboards.

Who uses PubNub?

PubNub is suitable for many organizations that require real-time communication and data streaming capabilities. It is ideal for businesses in industries such as healthcare, gaming, IoT, finance, e-commerce, and collaborative applications.

It is suitable for small startups and large enterprises needing scalable, reliable, and secure real-time communication infrastructure. PubNub caters to developers who want to add real-time functionality to their applications, regardless of the programming language they use. 

Benefits of using PubNub or similar in-app chat solutions include increasing user engagement and achieving brand consistency with white labeling the chat solution.

➡️ Learn how organizations achieve higher user retention by engaging their audience with these in-app messaging examples.

Why searching for a PubNub alternative is needed?

While PubNub offers many advantages for real-time communication and data streaming, there are certain scenarios where exploring alternatives might be beneficial. 

Here is why you could look for an open-source PubNub alternative:

  • Cost: PubNub's usage-based pricing for high-volume or large-scale applications can be expensive.
  • Specific feature requirements: Explore alternatives if functionalities or integrations are not available in PubNub.
  • Infrastructure control: Organizations needing full control over their infrastructure may prefer alternatives with on-premises or specific cloud provider options.
  • Customization and flexibility: Consider chat alternatives that offer greater customization and flexibility beyond PubNub's serverless Functions.
  • Data sovereignty: Compliance regulations may require localized data storage and processing options, which alternative platforms can provide.

6 PubNub alternatives you can try 

Several alternatives to PubNub offer real-time communication and data streaming capabilities. Here are 6 popular options worth considering:

1. Rocket.Chat

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Rocket.Chat is an open-source communication platform offering real-time messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, voice, and video calls. It provides extensive customization options and free-ranging integration capabilities. Rocket.Chat also supports team collaboration, omnichannel customer service, and app integration. 

Let’s compare some key features of Rocket.Chat's in-app chat and PubNub.

PubNub vs Rocket.Chat comparison of features

Evidently, owing to its intuitive features and capabilities, Rocket.Chat can be deemed as a worthy PubNub alternative. 

2. Weavy

PubNub alternative

Weavy is a collaborative framework that provides a set of APIs and SDKs that make it easy to add features like chat, notifications, file sharing, and task management to existing applications. Users can find it a suitable Pubnub alternative as well. 

Key Features of Weavy

  1. Real-time Chat: Weavy provides real-time chat functionality that allows users to send messages, create chat rooms, and have online conversations within your chat application.
  2. Notifications: With Weavy, you can send notifications to users in real-time, keeping them updated about relevant events or activities happening within the application.
  3. File Sharing: Weavy enables users to share files within your application, allowing them to upload, download, and collaborate on files with other users.
  4. APIs and SDKs: Weavy offers comprehensive APIs and SDKs for easy integration with various platforms and languages, allowing developers to add collaborative features to their applications quickly.

Advantages of Weavy

  • Easy Integration: Weavy provides a well-documented API and SDK that simplify the integration process.
  • Customization: You can customize the look and feel of the collaborative features.
  • Security: Weavy provides features like encryption, user authentication, and access controls to protect user data.

Use Cases for Weavy

  • Social Networking Platforms: Interactive chat and file sharing for enhanced user engagement.
  • Customer Support and Engagement: Real-time chat and notifications for seamless customer communication.

3. Sendbird

PubNub alternative

Sendbird is a cloud-based in-app messaging platform that provides chat, voice, and video call APIs and SDKs for integrating real-time messaging and communication features into applications.

Key Features of Sendbird

  1. Real-time Chat: Add an embedded chat functionality to your product with Sendbird's chat APIs and SDKs, supporting text, images, group chats, and public/private channels.
  2. Voice and Video Calls: Enable high-quality voice and video calls within your app using Sendbird's APIs, supporting one-on-one or group calls.
  3. Moderation and Administration: Manage chat content and users with moderation tools, including profanity filters, message censoring, user blocking, and spam detection.

Advantages of Sendbird

  • Easy Integration: Well-documented APIs and SDKs simplify integration into applications.
  • Cross-Platform Support: Supports web, iOS, Android, and Unity, ensuring consistent chat experiences across devices.
  • Security and Compliance: Ensures secure communication with end-to-end encryption and compliance with the regulations of GDPR, HIPAA, etc.

Use Cases for Sendbird

  • On-Demand Services: Communication between users and service providers in real-time for on-demand platforms.
  • Online Marketplaces: Chat capabilities for buyers and sellers within online marketplace platforms.

4. Parse

PubNub alternative

Parse, originally developed by Facebook, is an open-source Backend as a Service (BaaS) platform that can be a Pubnub alternative. It provides developers with tools and infrastructure to build mobile and web applications more efficiently.

Key Features of Parse

  1. Real-time Database: Sync data across multiple clients in real-time with Parse's real-time database, enabling instant updates and notifications.
  2. Push Notifications: Engage users with targeted and personalized messages using Parse's push notification feature.
  3. User Authentication: Manage user registration, login, and account management securely with Parse's user authentication services.

Advantages of Parse

  • Easy Integration: Parse offers comprehensive SDKs and documentation for iOS, Android, JavaScript, Unity, and more, making integration effortless.
  • Developer-Friendly: With automatic API generation, easy data modeling, and client SDKs, Parse provides a developer-friendly environment for faster development.
  • Analytics and Monitoring: Parse includes analytics and monitoring tools to track user engagement, usage patterns, enabling data-driven optimization.

Use Cases for Parse

  • Task Management: Create collaborative task apps with real-time updates and synchronization.
  • Live Sports Updates: Deliver live sports updates and scores in real-time using Parse.

5. Kuzzle

PubNub alternative

Kuzzle is an open-source backend platform that provides a wide range of features for building real-time applications. It can be considered an PubNub alternative for real-time communication.

Key Features of Kuzzle

  1. Real-time Communication: Enable instant bidirectional communication and data synchronization.
  2. Data Storage and Querying: Store and query data flexibly and scalably with support for various databases.
  3. User Management and Authentication: Manage users and implement secure authentication methods.

Advantages of Kuzzle

  • Open Source: With an open-source nature, developers can access the source code for customization and improvement.
  • Extensibility: Its powerful plugin system enables developers to enhance functionalities and integrate additional features.
  • Flexible Architecture: With a modular architecture, it allows developers to select and configure specific services for optimal performance and resource allocation.

Use Cases for Kuzzle

  • Collaborative Apps: Enable real-time collaboration for document editing, project management, and team collaboration.
  • Location-Based Services: Track assets, manage geofencing, and send location-based notifications.

6. Stream

PubNub alternative

Stream is a cloud-based API platform that specializes in scalable and reliable real-time messaging and activity feeds. It is another befitting PubNub alternative that provides robust real-time communication capabilities for developers.

Key Features of Stream

  1. Real-time Messaging: Enable seamless real-time communication with channels and chat functionality for instant message exchange.
  2. Activity Feeds: Create personalized feeds for social networks, news updates, and dynamic content with real-time activity updates.
  3. Push Notifications: Keep users engaged and informed by sending instant alerts and notifications to their devices.

Advantages of Stream

  • Developer-Friendly API: Stream offers an intuitive API for easy integration into applications, with client SDKs for popular languages.
  • Reliability and Durability: Stream guarantees reliable message delivery and durable storage to prevent data loss.

Use Cases for Stream

  • Activity and news feeds: Create personalized feeds for social networks and content-sharing platforms.
  • Multiplayer gaming: Power real-time multiplayer games with instant updates and player interactions.

Best PubNub alternative for security-focused organizations

In conclusion, when it comes to real-time communication and data streaming, several viable alternatives to PubNub offer unique features and advantages. 

However, Rocket.Chat stands out as a versatile and secure option, providing organizations with a robust collaboration platform that prioritizes data control, customization, and compliance.

With Rocket.Chat, you can have complete control over your conversations, choose your deployment options, and integrate seamlessly with your existing ecosystem. The open-sourced platform's emphasis on security and privacy, along with its extensive customization capabilities, makes it an ideal choice for security-minded organizations. 

So if you're looking for a PubNub alternative that combines security, flexibility, and scalability, we highly recommend checking out Rocket.Chat's offer.

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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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