A repository of the technical terms and jargon intrepid Twilio developers may encounter on their building journey.
Account notifications give companies the ability to provide their customers with relevant, timely, and personalized information about their accounts.
Ahoy, a signal word originally used to call a ship, was once a standard way to greet others and was Alexander Graham Bell's suggested greeting for answering the telephone.
Alphanumeric Sender ID allows you to set your company name or brand as the Sender ID when sending one-way SMS messages to supported countries. Alphanumeric Sender IDs may be up to 11 characters. Accepted characters include both upper- and lower-case ASCII letters, the digits 0 through 9, and space: A-Z, a-z, 0-9. They may not be only numbers.
An Application Programming Interface (API) is provided by a service or program so that others may use the features and functions of the system. APIs are like a contract that describes how a consumer will make requests of the system, and what they will receive in return.
Application-to-Person messaging (A2P) is one-way SMS to which recipients are not expected to reply. When you send a text message to vote for your favorite singer on the TV talent show, you are using A2P messaging. Software applications use an API to send an receive texts.
Appointment Reminders give businesses the ability to notify customers of upcoming engagements. While some businesses call customers to remind them of their appointments, text messaging has emerged as the preferred channel for customer communication, particularly for Appointment Reminders.
An Area Code Overlay is an area code that covers the same area as another area code. In North America, each area code has a potential capacity of around 8 Million unique phone numbers (7,919,900 to be exact). Many area codes have exhausted all possible phone numbers, so one or more area codes are added to accommodate.
Arrival alerts allow business to inform their customers when they might expect their product or service to arrive.
C# (pronounced "see sharp") is a computer programming language created by Microsoft for use on the .NET platform. It is an object oriented programming (OOP) language and is statically typed. Its name comes from the C language, from which it inherits a similar syntax.
Call attribution is a way to track calls by tying phone numbers to data from an ad source (such as keywords, sessions or campaigns). It provides visibility into digital campaigns and allows accurate measurement of marketing ROI.
Call Tracking is a software-based performance marketing technique that generates and assigns a unique phone number to a specific advertisement or marketing campaign. Call Tracking systems then follow and analyze leads through that phone number “channel” to understand the channel’s true effectiveness and ROI or receive a commission for driving that lead.
Call transcription is the conversion of a voice or video call audio track into written words to be stored as plain text in a conversational language. Call transcription can either be live - as a call or event happens - or based on the recording of a past conversation.
Call Whisper, also commonly referred to as Call Screening, involves playing a message to the callee while the caller continues to hear ringing. It can provide additional information such as the source or purpose of the call to the callee before the call begins and even allow the callee to accept or reject the call based on that information.
Direct Inward Dialing (DID) is a telephone service that allows a phone number to ring through directly to a specific phone at a business instead of going to a menu or a queue and needing to dial an extension. A phone number that is used like this is often called a "DID" (and multiple numbers are called "DIDs”).
DTMF, or Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency tones, are in-band telecommunications signals sent over voice frequencies. Commonly used over telephone lines, DTMF tones are also commonly called Touch Tones.
Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) is a call tracking feature where a unique phone number is tied to each ad source. This helps marketers analyze offline behavior much in the same way they track online behavior with the help of cookies.
E.164 is the international telephone numbering plan that ensures each device on the PSTN has globally unique number. This is what allows phone calls and text messages can be correctly routed to individual phones in different countries. E.164 numbers are formatted [+] [country code] [subscriber number including area code] and can have a maximum of fifteen digits.
ETA Alerts, or Estimated Time of Arrival Alerts, are periodic notifications on the status of an item, delivery, or person that include a probable time of arrival at the destination. Usually delivered through SMS messages or voice calls, ETA alerts keep customers updated on the location and timing of their upcoming deliveries.
GPRS, or General Packet Radio Service, is a best-effort packet-switching communications protocol for cellular networks.
GPRS was one of the first widely used data transfer protocols on cellular networks, first standardized in 3GPP's Release 97 in the first quarter of 1998. Commercial cellular networks began to support GPRS in 2000.
GSM-7 is a character encoding standard which packs the most commonly used letters and symbols in many languages into 7 bits each for usage on GSM networks. As SMS messages are transmitted 140 8-bit octets at a time, GSM-7 encoded SMS messages can carry up to 160 characters.
Interactive Voice Response or IVR is an automated telephony system that interacts with human callers through the use of voice and touch-tone keypad selections (DTMF tones). It’s also commonly known as a phone tree.
Jitter is the variation in periodicity of a signal or periodic event from its target or true frequency. In telecommunications, jitter further refers to the variation in latency of packets carrying voice or video data over a communications channel.
Latency is the time delay between the initiation of an event and its perception by some observer. In networking and telecommunications, latency is the time between a sender causing a change in a system's state and its reception by an observer. Network latency is often informally used interchangeably with lag.
Live chat is a type of online chat distinguished by its simplicity and user accessibility. Live chat appears in a web browser or in mobile applications, usually via a small pop-up modal through which the visitor can exchange text messages with a chat operator in real time.
A long code number is a standard phone number used to send and receive voice calls and SMS messages. Phone numbers are typically called “long codes” (10-digit numbers in many countries) when comparing them with SMS short codes (5-6 digit numbers).
Masked calling is a technique used in ecommerce to protect buyers' and sellers' personal phone numbers private. It uses a short-lived phone number for each party, allowing them to communicate seamlessly during a specified time period. After the time period has expired, the numbers are recycled and reassigned to other parties on the platform, which helps keep transactions from happening outside the platform.
Masked Phone Numbers are a common pattern to anonymize communication between multiple parties and hide participant phone numbers. Instead of dialing directly from phone to phone, users communicate via a third ('proxy') phone number that forwards a call to the eventual destination.
A Mean Opinion Score (MOS) is a numerical measure of the human-judged overall quality of an event or experience. In telecommunications, a Mean Opinion Score is a ranking of the quality of voice and video sessions.
Most often judged on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent), Mean Opinion Scores are the average of a number of other human-scored individual parameters. Although originally Mean Opinion Scores were derived from surveys of expert observers, today a MOS is often produced by an Objective Measurement Method approximating a human ranking.
MMS, short for Multimedia Messaging Service, is a standard way to send multimedia such as pictures, videos, and other attachments over text messaging channels.
Network Address Translation (NAT) is the modification of in-transit network packets to map one IP address space to another. It is most commonly used in IP Masquerading, where a large private IP network shares a relatively small number of publicly facing IP addresses behind a router or gateway.
North American Area Codes are prefixed to a phone number to assist in routing phone calls in North America. The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) dictates the regional and non-geographic area codes assigned to signatory countries. The United States, Canada, some Caribbean countries, and all US territories are covered by the plan.
Order notifications give businesses the ability to inform customers of the status of their order, which could include confirmations, pricing adjustments, delays in fulfillment, or delivery scheduling.
P2P stands for Person-to-Person messaging. In simple terms, this is when two or more people communicate over text messaging. For example, when you send a text message from your phone to another person's phone, that's P2P. This can also include traffic that goes through an API to connect two people.
Packet loss refers to the failure of packets to reach their destination on a network. Packet loss is most often a consequence of network congestion and usually caused by network equipment dropping, ignoring, misdelivering, or discarding packets.
A phone tree or phone menu is an automated navigation menu presented to voice callers. Using interactive voice response with DTMF codes (touch tones) or voice recognition, a phone menu helps a caller find automated information, complete a transaction, talk to the proper human operator, or leave a voicemail with a company.
PBX, short for Private Branch Exchange, is a phone system in an enterprise that manages incoming and outgoing phone calls as well as an organization’s internal communications.
The PSTN (Publicly Switched Telephone Network) is the network that carries your voice calls when you call from a landline or cell phone. It refers to the worldwide network of voice-carrying telephone infrastructure, including privately-owned and government-owned infrastrucure.
A push notification (also known as a server push notification) is the delivery of information to a computing device from an application server where the request for the transaction is initiated by the server rather than by an explicit request from the client. While 'push notification' is most often used to refer to notifications on mobile devices, web applications also leverage this technology.
A REST API allows software programs to expose functionality and data to other programs over the Internet in a consistent format. APIs are considered RESTful if the means of accessing the API provider's functionality adhere to the architectural style of REST.
A software development kit, or SDK, is a downloadable software package that contains the tools you need to build on a platform.
Sentiment Analysis, or opinion mining, is the process of determining whether language reflects positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Using sentiment algorithms, developers and brand managers can gain insights into customer opinions about a topic.
Serverless architecture (also known as serverless computing or function as a service, FaaS) is a software design pattern where applications are hosted by a third-party service, eliminating the need for server software and hardware management by the developer. Applications are broken up into individual functions that can be invoked and scaled individually.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signalling protocol for initiating, terminating, and modifying user sessions over an IP network. Most commonly, SIP is used for Voice Over IP (VoIP) services, but is also often used for other communications sessions such as video calls and instant messaging sessions.
A short code is a special 5 or 6 digit telephone number that's shorter than a full phone number. Short codes are used to send and receive SMS and MMS messages to and from mobile phones. Twilio currently offers short codes in the US, Canada, and the UK.
A SIP trunk is a virtual version of an analog phone line, eliminating the physical connection to a phone company. Using SIP trunks, a SIP provider can connect multiple channels to your PBX, allowing you to instantly provision global voice connectivity for your Voice over IP (VoIP) infrastructure.
SMS stands for Short Message Service and is another name for a text message. An SMS is generally sent from one mobile device to another over the cellular network. SMS is a text-only standard first formalized in 1985 in the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standards.
As the infrastructures for SMS communications and the internet are mostly divided, SMS APIs are often used to 'bridge the gap' between telecommunications carrier networks and the wider web. SMS APIs are used to allow web applications to easily send and receive text messages through logic written for standard web frameworks.
The character limit for a single SMS message is 160 characters, however most modern phones and networks support concatenation and segment and rebuild messages up to 1600 characters. Messages not using GSM-7 encoding are limited to 67 characters.
SMS Delivery is a measure of the percentage of outgoing SMS and MMS messages which are received at their intended destination. While sometimes referring to the status of a single message, SMS delivery usually is a rate of delivered versus intended messages and summarized as an 'SMS Delivery Rate.'
An SMS Gateway enables a computer to send and receive SMS text messages to and from a SMS capable device over the global telecomunications network (normally to a mobile phone). The SMS Gateway translates the message sent, and makes it compatible for delivery over the network to be able to reach the recipient.
SMS Notifications are out-of-band text messages sent in response to events or transactions which occur somewhere else. While often used as a marketing tool to increase the percentage of returning visitors, SMS notifications are very useful for organization and public safety purposes as well.
An SMS tracker is software that uncovers detailed information about the delivery and content of text and picture messages. It allows anyone to analyze an individual message or group of messages to see delivery patterns, encoding details, and error conditions.
Sticky Sender is a valuable feature for SMS or Voice marketing where all outbound customer contact comes from a single number. This 'sticky' or 'unchanging' number increases customer familiarity and trust. With a two-way Voice or SMS system, it also allows customers to contact businesses and organizations through the very same number.
The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) is a federal statute enacted in 1991 designed to safeguard consumer privacy. This legislation restricts telemarketing communications via voice calls, SMS texts, and fax.
TwiML, or the Twilio Markup Language, is an XML based language which instructs Twilio on how to handle various events such as incoming and outgoing calls, SMS messages and MMS messages. When building a Twilio application you will use TwiML when communicating your desired actions to Twilio.
Two factor authentication (commonly abbreviated 2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your user’s account login by requiring two forms of authentication: something your user knows and something they have.
UCS-2 is a character encoding standard in which characters are represented by a fixed-length 16 bits (2 bytes). It is used as a fallback on many GSM networks when a message cannot be encoded using GSM-7 or when a language requires more than 128 characters to be rendered.
Unicode is an international character encoding standard that provides a unique number for every character across languages and scripts, making almost all characters accessible across platforms, programs, and devices.
A virtual phone number is a standard telephone number that is not locked down to a specific phone. A virtual number can route a voice call or text message to any phone or workflow. With virtual numbers powered by an API, complex software workflows can be built that are triggered by calls and texts.
Virtual SMS enables you to send and recieve SMS text messages over the internet without having to use a physical phone. This is especially useful when you want to use software to communicate with telephone networks that would be impossible on a physical phone, e.g. Uber notifying a customer that their car is outside or to have local phone numbers in different countries.
A voice API is a tool for software developers to make and receive phone calls with a simple, easy to understand API. Behind the scenes, a voice API bridges the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and applications connected to the internet. By using a voice API, software developers can program voice calling into their applications without specialized telecommunications knowledge and hardware.
Voice Proxy is also known as Masked Calling. It refers to the technique used to protect users' private information by providing an intermediary number so that neither party can see the other's true phone number for voice calls or SMS.
It is especially useful for scenarios where you want to track or control the transaction between two users, for example in a marketplace. Examples of peer-to-peer marketplaces that use Twilio as a Voice Proxy are Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Postmates and Instacart.
There are two main options to build a Voice Proxy solution:
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a category of hardware and software that enables voice calls to be made and received over the internet.
Webhooks are user-defined HTTP callbacks. They are triggered by some event in a web application and can facilitate integrating different applications or third-party APIs, like Twilio.
Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is a collection of communications protocols and APIs originally developed by Google that enable real-time voice and video communication over peer-to-peer connections.
A WebSocket is a persistent bi-directional communication channel between a client (e.g. a browser) and a backend service. In contrast with HTTP request/response connections, websockets can transport any number of protocols and provide server-to-client message delivery without polling.