Andy Heriaud Written by Andy Heriaud 8 min read

What's the best Chat API for your business?

compare blogWith hybrid work rapidly becoming the norm, the demand for online collaboration tools and features has never been greater. With companies like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce pouring millions, or sometimes billions, of dollars into making collaboration a greater part of their productivity suites, it’s become clear that apps need collaboration features like Chat to remain competitive.

 

Adding new features to your app can be expensive and time consuming. Luckily there’s no shortage of APIs and SDKs, like Weavy, that allow you to add collaboration features in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. Of course, knowing the APIs are out there and knowing which one to pick are another matter, that’s why today we’re putting the spotlight on three great competitor Chat APIs to see how they compare to Weavy.

 

But first, an quick introduction to Weavy so you have a better basis for comparison:

Weavy: the complete in-app chat and collaboration API

Weavy increases user retention by bringing crucial collaboration features like Chat, File Sharing, and Activity Feeds directly into your app. All while giving you best-in-class security and the lowest possible latency. Weavy does this through the use of API calls to a server running Weavy’s server SDK. To give the best latency, security, and data portability, Weavy is designed to be deployed on the same environment as your app server, making the experience of using Weavy’s features feel indistinguishable from the rest of your user’s in-app experience.

 

Weavy is designed to match the security compliance and authentication scheme of its host app. What that means is that if your app supports things like SSO and 2FA, then Weavy supports SSO and 2FA, if your app is HIPAA compliant, then Weavy is HIPAA compliant. Additionally Weavy works with the services your team already loves, like Google Drive, Dropbox, Zoom, and more to help meet a user’s productivity needs directly within your app.

 

Weavy’s secure file sharing features also allow users to safely and securely share their files, stored both locally and across different cloud services in one central location that other members of their organization can access. Weavy also allows users to preview files without downloading them, as well as edit Microsoft Office or Google Workplace files directly from within your app.

PubNub: works great, not great for work

PubNub gives developers a quick way to add simplified Chat and Messaging features to their app using a simple Rest API that connects to PubNub's servers. Through PubNub’s implementation, an API call is made to PubNub every time a user interacts with that chat function in an app, PubNub responds by sending the relevant data back, creating a chat experience. In order to reduce latency for end users, it is important that your app server and PubNub’s servers are located geographically close to each other, which is why PubNub allows developers to choose the AWS region closest to their deployment.

 

To get the absolute best experience with the lowest latency, it’s best to have your Chat server located in the same environment as your app server. For this kind of dedicated server support, PubNub requires you to be on an enterprise plan for a price they do not publicly advertise. 

 

Additional functionality like HIPAA compliance and unlimited Monthly Active Users are also exclusive to enterprise plans.

 

PubNub is primarily focused on commerce and events driven apps, using geofencing and tracking to help augment the user experience. To this end they have very limited support for Third Party services like cloud storage or video calls, so be careful if your users need to use Chat for more than talking to a delivery driver.

PubNub vs. Weavy

Features

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that PubNub was designed primarily for creating a great B2C oriented experience. For them, the ideal end-user is someone using a dating app, a delivery service, or a telehealth app. What that means is that their features and product roadmap aren’t tailored to productivity. 

 

If all your app needs out of chat are the basic functions like push notifications, user tagging, and the sharing of simple media like photos and videos, then PubNub may be a great fit for you. Likewise, if you need GeoTracking capabilities that are deeply tied to the chat experience, PubNub can’t be beat. 

 

But for more robust productivity features, you will likely find Weavy is a better fit. Part of what makes Weavy great for productivity is its tight integration with third party services already being utilized by most businesses. Within Chat, users can connect to their favorite cloud storage account (we presently support Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft OneDrive) and use it to quickly and securely send files to other users. Weavy also allows users to send locally stored documents with the same level of security.

 

Price

Like most API Chat services, PubNub operates on a tiered pricing model which scales with usage. Though PubNub offers a free plan, it is incredibly limited and only offered as a way for developers to create a proof of concept. Their paid plans begin at $49 per month for up to 1500 monthly active users, and once you’re scaled to above 15,000 monthly active users you’ll have to move onto an enterprise plan.

 

Weavy’s File Sharing and Feeds services are each priced at a flat $499 a month, offering unlimited monthly active users and API calls. Weavy’s in-app chat, however, is offered completely free, with no limits on API calls, messages, or active users.

Sendbird: A simple chat API

Sendbird gives developers a quick way to add chat to their app using a simple Rest API that connects to Sendbird's servers. Architecturally speaking, Sendbird operates in much the same way that PubNub does, meaning you’ll have to select the AWS region as close to your app's host server as possible to lower your latency. If you would like to utilize a dedicated server to achieve the lowest possible latency, you’ll have to pay an additional monthly fee on top of an enterprise plan.

 

Sendbird offers their own proprietary video calling service that has deep integration with their chat service, letting users quickly move from in-app chat to in-app video calls. This feature is a great value-add for things like dating apps or telehealth, where users expect a unified, locked-in experience. However, using this service incurs an additional monthly cost. If your users need to use chat beyond the basics of conversation, you may want to look elsewhere.

Sendbird vs. Weavy

Features

Like PubNub, Sendbird’s primary focus is on delivering features for B2C applications. This means they offer a deep bench of very consumer-oriented chat features like the ability to block or mute other users, automated message translation, and tools for moderation by the platform holder such as profanity or explicit image features. While these features are incredibly nice to have and can make for a better, safer consumer experience, they don't really have as much utility in a productivity setting. Productivity features such as file sharing or document previews are conspicuously absent.

 

As mentioned above, Sendbird offers their own video calling services for an additional monthly cost. However that also means they have no incentive to integrate with video calling services your users may already be using on a regular basis. 

 

Instead of trying to replace something like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, Weavy is instead designed to make them easier to use. Within Weavy, users are able to connect their Microsoft Teams and Zoom accounts directly to your app, meaning they can send a call invite to other users in as few as three mouse clicks or phone taps, all with invitations that take all users directly to the relevant call app.

 

Data Ownership

One of the biggest drawbacks to Sendbird is unfortunately how they handle data ownership. As with PubNub and Stream, all your chat and call data lives on Sendbirds servers, effectively giving them ownership over it. If for any reason you decide to part ways with Sendbird’s services, you’re going to have to make a hard decision about what to do with your data. Sendbird limits data exports to their enterprise plan, and only after you pay an additional fee on top of your regular subscription. 

 

Since Weavy is designed to be deployed on your own servers, that also means you have complete control and access to your data. Simply put: once you deploy Weavy your chat and file sharing data is yours and yours alone to do with as you please. Additionally, beyond some basic anonymous telemetry data for product optimization, no one at Weavy has any access to your data. We believe strongly in data privacy and portability, and we’ve made sure your data is in the best possible hands: yours.

Price

Like PubNub, Sendbird operates on a tiered pricing model. Unlike the other services, Sendbird offers two different tiered pricing tracks: Starter and Pro. Each track offers tiered pricing based on caps of monthly active users and API calls, with the same caps at each tier. The Pro plan charges extra for a few quality-of-life features like message delivery receipts. Pricing for Sendbird’s chat begins at $399 a month for up to 5,000 monthly active users on their starter track, and $599 a month for up to 5,000 monthly active users on their pro track. Regardless of which track you choose, you’ll have to upgrade to an enterprise plan once you exceed 100,000 monthly active users.

 

Sendbird operates on a pay-as-you-go model, where they offer a simple flat upcharge if you have to exceed your normal monthly active users. Regardless of which pricing model you choose, the number of concurrent users you’re allowed is limited to 2% of your total monthly active users, even on the enterprise plan. If it sounds confusing, that’s because it is.

 

Weavy’s File Sharing and Feeds services are each priced at a flat $499 a month, offering unlimited monthly active users and API calls. Weavy’s in-app chat is offered completely free, with no limits on API calls, messages, active users or concurrent users, and no additional fees at any time for features, usage, or compliance.

Stream: interesting tech, curious compromises

Stream gives developers a quick way to add chat or feeds to their app using a simple Rest API that connects to Stream's servers. Though Stream is still hindered by the same limitations that come with having your chat features hosted on a different server than the rest of your app, they’ve come up with an interesting way to sidestep the problem: their proprietary edge network. 

 

To put it in the simplest terms, Stream is able to offload some of the functionality normally handled by their servers onto smaller devices deployed in various regions, effectively lowering latency. As this solution is relatively new, only time will tell how real world performance stacks up.

 

As with Sendbird and PubNub, Stream charges additional fees for dedicated servers, and though they offer full security compliance at every pricing tier, they have made the curious choice of limiting important user-facing authentication features like SSO, SAML, and 2FA to their enterprise plan.

Though Stream offers perhaps the most visual customization options of any of the services detailed here, they also have the most limited chat functionality, meaning your users may find themselves in a very pretty, albeit basic user experience.

Stream vs. Weavy

Features

Unlike PubNub or Sendbird, Stream heavily advertises itself as a collaboration platform. To their credit, their features and functionality very closely resemble that of Slack or Microsoft Teams chat. Stream allows for things like multi-user rooms, threaded replies, rich media sharing, and URL parsing. To their detriment, their limitations also closely resemble those of Slack. Stream’s third-party integrations begin and end at Giphy support, and while everyone may love a good meme, that’s not going to help settle a dispute over Q4 projections.

 

Weavy was designed from the ground up to make collaboration easy, fun, and completely available within your app. All of our features were crafted around maximizing a user’s productivity without ever having to navigate away to another app. That means secure file sharing, rich third-party integrations, and the ability to contextually collaborate around different parts of your app.

Pricing

Like PubNub and Sendbird, Stream operates on a tiered pricing model based on monthly caps for active users and API calls. Stream’s Chat pricing begins at $499 a month for up to 10,000 monthly active users, once you go beyond 50,000 monthly active users you will have to move onto an enterprise plan.

 

There are two key differences that set Stream apart from their competitors when it comes to pricing. The first is that Stream puts strict limits on the number of users who can be using their services concurrently, meaning that only a fraction of your allocated monthly active users can be on at the same time. The second is that Stream charges steep overage penalties for passing any of the pricing caps. 

 

Combined, a high volume day could leave you with a much steeper bill than what anticipated. Imagine you’re on the $499 a month plan, though you are allowed to have up to 10,000 users in a month, you can not have more than 500 on at any given time without paying an additional $0.75 per user. So say you happen to have an unusually high volume day, where half of your monthly users choose to use your app’s chat features at the same time, you’re looking at a $3,375 overage fee for just one day.

 

Weavy’s File Sharing and Feeds services are each priced at a flat $499 a month, offering unlimited monthly active users and API calls. Weavy’s in-app chat is offered completely free, with no limits on API calls, messages, active users or concurrent users, and no additional fees at any time for features, usage, or compliance.

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