I had an amazing time this year at the Twilio Signal Developer conference. I travel across the country each and every year to attend the event, and I equate it to a "trip to the motherland" to see my roots in tech. It is awesome to meet so many amazing people from the tech community, learn about all the new product that Twilio and their partners are working on, witness the epic keynotes from Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio and the rest of the Twilio team and last but certainly not least, eat, drink, turn up and party at BA$H the "Carnival for Coders" and official afterparty for the conference.
Each and every year Twilio release powerful new APIs at the event and this year was no difference. Here is a recap of some of the awesome new tech that Twilio released this year at Signal:
â˜Žï¸ Phone numbers (beta)
I know what you're thinking, ðŸ˜‚ doesn't Twilio already have phone numbers?
You are correct, but this year they now have Phone Numbers in 70 countries worldwide ðŸŒŽ
ðŸŽ¥ Programmable Video (Leaves Beta and Adds Recording)
Twilio Video is the feature that got me to travel across the country the first time back in 2015 to get an Alpha early access key. Since then the product has matured a lot, they moved from alpha to beta in 2016, acquired WebRTC media server company Kurento and integrated them into the Twilio Video team, and finally this year the product has left beta into a stable release and adds a much coveted feature, Video Recording. You can now record video on Twilio just as easily as they allow you to record
ðŸ•º Channels (developer preview)
Channels lets you send and receive messages on multiple channels with a single Twilio API. Now you can code once and message everywhere, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WeChat, Viber and Slack are just a few of the service that you will be able to communicate with as launch.
ðŸ’¬ Hosted SMS (developer preview)
Twilio now allows you to keep your carrier and add SMS as a service to ANY business land line, allowing you to keep the same caller ID that you communicate with you customers over voice, and add SMS, no forwarding or porting of numbers required.
Crazy story, I worked with the inside team at Twilio back in 2015 to enable this feature for a large enterprise customer who had a call center that needed to add fax functionality. At that time it was an undocumented manual processes. Shout out to Yasir Motiwala from Twilio for helping to make that project happen!
ðŸ‘ Proxy (developer preview)
So this is not a data proxy, think of this as a human proxy, when you call your uber driver, or delivery person, you want to be able to call (and text) them back at that same number. It is also nice if the number is local and from an area code that you can recognize so you know to answer the call. Problem is figuring out all of those factors can be hard programmatically, and using personal phone number does not protect the provacy of either party involve. Proxy handles the communication logic to set up intermediate phone numbers for text and voice conversations between two people, so personal phone numbers and user IDs are kept confidential and can even monitor the content of text conversations between two parties by configuring rules for filtering and redacting messages.
If you are building the next Uber for X, you need to be using Proxy.
ðŸ‡ New Add-ons for TaskRouter (beta)
TaskRouter lets you build intelligent real time task routing into your existing application to create smarter workflows with skills based routing. Now, developers can create and publish Add-Ons to this service and publish them on Twilio's awesome marketplace. The showcased two analytics companies that they are launching with for the beta pilot program but I am sure that many more will join them as the service becomes generally available.
ðŸ—£ Speech Recognition (beta)
Twilio has had call transcriptions for a while now, but unfortunately the transcriptions was limited to only happening after the call ended and was bundled with their call recording API. Now, Twilio can convert speech to text in real time and your application can analyze its intent and respond intelligently during any voice call.
ðŸ¤– Understand (coming soon)
Analyze text using natural language understanding and machine learning. I believe that once this feature is released to the public, Twilio will have a HUGE advantage in the space since their model is going to be trained by a wealth of real time call data.
ðŸ‘¾ Functions (beta)
This is a pretty crazy move for Twilio, but it makes a ton of sense. So they released "Functions" which is a way to run Node in the cloud and have it execute and scale on demand. A competitor to things like Amazon's AWS Lambda and Google's Firebase, Twilio's clear advantage is that you can create your Twilio Functions all under one roof. Basically making them a one stop shop for your communications compute. I used it during the conference to setup a webhook for my Twilio SIM card and it was super easy. I can definitely see people using it was long as awareness is raise for the service. The awesome tutorials that they offer should begin to embrace functions was the default and people will use it.
ðŸ–¼ Frame (coming soon)
A new way to prototype Twilio apps using an out of the box, customizable, fluid UI, frame will allow you to get to MVP in no time! I can't wait for this to hit beta in a few months.
ðŸ“Š Voice Insights for Carrier Calls (beta)
New data analytics into all the hops that a call makes on it's way to your users. They are essentially open sourcing the PSTN
ðŸ“ Programmable Fax (Leaves Beta)
Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio was literally signing fax machines at BA$H this year ðŸ˜‚ the company that is leading the end of telephony hardware as we know it, is going after the last piece of antiquated tech in the workplace, the fax machine. Jeff literally played star wars music on stage as he live coded a web app to make 20 fax machine print out graphic of Twilio DOers faces composed from multiple fax rolls of paper. The showman ship was amazing.
ðŸ“± Wireless Global Connectivity (developer preview)
With Global SIM Connectivity you can now use Twilio SIM Cards anywhere in the world! This is a huge deal for IOT because now you can have cellular connected drone, bots and other devices that can literally travel the entire world using Twilio as a super low cost data provider.
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Anthony has been an explorer of the digital space for over a decade. From transforming start-ups into multi-million dollar organizations, to helping nonprofits solve real world problems with digital solutions, his passion is using software to help change the world one pixel at a time.