WhatsApp — there’s an API for that
Time to read: 4 minutes
The Twilio API for WhatsApp gives you a simple and reliable way to reach your users directly in the WhatsApp application.
The same API you use for SMS can now be used to send WhatsApp messages. All you have to do is update two lines of code. The API works seamlessly with TwiML and our helper libraries, allowing you to add WhatsApp to existing workflows or applications in minutes. It is also compatible with Twilio developer tools like Functions, Sync, Debugger, and API Explorer.
Over the last 10 years, Twilio customers have used Programmable SMS to build innovative messaging experiences for their users, whether that’s sending instant transaction notifications for money transfers, food delivery alerts, or helping millions of people avoid parking tickets.
Today, we’re helping customers like Deliveroo, Hays, SnapTravel, SuaHouse, and PATH do the same with WhatsApp to engage their users in the most popular messaging application in the world.
Users increasingly want to talk to businesses the same way they talk with their friends and family. That’s why businesses all over the world have turned to messaging to send proactive notifications, verification codes, and use it as a channel for customer support. In more than 180 countries and especially across LatAm, EMEA, and South East Asia, WhatsApp is the messaging app of choice. More than 1.5 billion people use WhatsApp to stay in touch in their personal lives, sending more than 60 billion messages every day. In regions where WhatsApp is dominant, businesses have been so eager to use WhatsApp that in some cases, developers have resorted to improvising the consumer application!
The Twilio API for WhatsApp provides developers all over the world with a simple, reliable, and officially supported way to use the WhatsApp Business API. They can now easily build messaging experiences that combine the ease of use of the Programmable SMS API with the global reach of WhatsApp.
Twilio eliminates the operational overhead of integrating directly with the WhatsApp messaging network which requires hosting, managing, and scaling containers in your own cloud infrastructure. WhatsApp containers manage encryption keys and messages between the business and users, allowing WhatsApp to deliver end-to-end message encryption. Those containers need to be hosted in multiple regions for high availability and to scale efficiently, as messaging volume grows. Twilio abstracts away this complexity to provide you with a simple and reliable REST API.
Additionally, regardless of your use case, there are certain capabilities you must build such as managing user opt-ins and honoring opt-out requests. To ensure critical notifications are always delivered, you need to be able to switch to SMS if the user can’t be reached on WhatsApp due to the app being uninstalled or poor data connectivity. Twilio provides these features out-of-the-box, reducing the amount of custom code you need to write.
With the Twilio API for WhatsApp, your WhatsApp application is also built on infrastructure you can trust. The Twilio API platform powers 40 billion interactions a year while maintaining 99.999% uptime. Twilio is also committed to GDPR compliance and our Binding Corporate Rules have received approval from the EU Data Protection authorities.
Supporting a variety of messaging channels has always meant wrestling with different API schemas and capabilities. Some channels have open APIs while others have a hosted deployment model. Some provide rich messaging capabilities while others focus on plain text and media messages. With Twilio, developers can use the same API for SMS and WhatsApp as well as MMS, Facebook Messenger, RCS and LINE. They no longer have to deal with writing and maintaining code for each channel, and can instead focus on building the customer experience they want.
The Twilio API for WhatsApp works seamlessly with Twilio Flex, the programmable contact center platform. Flex is instantly deployable and infinitely customizable. Omni-channel capabilities are baked in — businesses that use Flex can install support for WhatsApp with a single click, allowing their agents to serve customers directly in the WhatsApp app.
The Twilio API for WhatsApp also works out-of-the-box with Studio, Twilio’s visual application builder for communications. Anyone can use its drag-and-drop interface to design and customize messaging experiences for WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is currently gating the number of new applications going to production, but the Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp is available today for you to start building and testing your applications. When you want to move to production, you will need to get a WhatsApp business profile. WhatsApp is gradually on-boarding businesses in these initial stages to ensure a great experience for both users and businesses.
Get Started with the Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp
You can start testing the API with the Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp. It provides a limited implementation allowing you to message pre-approved numbers from a shared WhatsApp profile. You will need to verify these numbers in the Twilio console.
Once you’re ready to move to production, you can request access for your own WhatsApp business profile from the Twilio console. This provides you with a dedicated Twilio number enabled for WhatsApp. Twilio will review your request with WhatsApp and get back to you with next steps.
To get started:
- Sign up for a Twilio account if you haven’t already and navigate to the WhatsApp page in the Twilio console.
- Set up your sandbox.
- Run through the quickstart to send your first message.
- Learn more in the API overview docs.
- Check out some of the apps we’ve built, like this WhatsApp emoji translator!
You can finally integrate as easily with WhatsApp as you can with SMS on Twilio. We can’t wait to see what you build with it!
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