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Twilio, the Cloud-based VoIP/Skype App Enabler
[July 26, 2011]

Twilio, the Cloud-based VoIP/Skype App Enabler

Originally posted on VoIP & Gadgets Blog, here:

Today, Twillio is launching their cloud-based VoIP offering that enables developers to add VoIP capabilities to any website with just three lines of code. Twilio's VoIP developer toolkit called “Twilio Client” enables realtime two-ray audio to voice-enable browsers, iOS, and Android Apps. Twilio's product uses the Flash plugin to access the microphone. But since Apple's iOS doesn't support Flash I'm told for mobile they are integrating with iOS and Android through custom mobile SDKs. The mobile SDKs will allow the Android and iPhone mobile platforms to offer Twilio-powered VoIP to their applications.

Twillio explained that "with Twilio Client, web developers worldwide can now build Skype-like voice capabilities with Twilio’s scalable, reliable communications infrastructure-as-a-service. With just a few lines of code, web and mobile applications can host voice conversations, conference calls, and other forms of rich communication." Essentially, you can think of Twilio as a hosted Skype service that lets anyone into the VoIP game. They handle the entire back-end VoIP infrastructure, while you just build your app.

Twilio Client is not the first to offer a cloud-based VoIP SDK. Phono offers an open source jQuery plugin and JavaScript library that turns any web browser into a phone that is capable of making phone calls and sending instant messages. You can even connect to SIP clients all via their simple unified API. Phono also acts as an XMPP client capable of sending and receiving IM messages to and from any XMPP/Google Talk user. Some advantages of Phono over Twilio include HD audio and free Phono-to-Phone VoIP calls. Phono was actually created by Voxeo. Fellow-VoIP blogger Dan York works at Voxeo. I'll have to ping him for his insights into Twilio vs. Phono.

Twilio charges 1/4 cent per minute for VoIP calls, while calls that are routed from a VoIP client to a landline or wireless number (PSTN) are two cents per minute or basically 8X as expensive! This will certainly drive current Twilio developers to migrate to VoIP and encourage new developers to focus on routing calls over VoIP.

Currently, over 40,000 developers use Twilio for applications that interact with traditional mobile and landline telephones over the PSTN. In fact, their SMS module which only charges 1 cent per inbound/outbound message helped spawn a few group SMS startups. With Twilio Client these same applications can now communicate directly with end-users, bypassing the PSTN.

Twilio Client is available today as a free Javascript SDK download, with iOS and Android SDKs currently in beta.

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