It is only a few short weeks since Twilio, the communications platform developer, had its stock market debut. It's also a safe bet that in these turbulent times for tech stocks, Twilio spent much time thinking about product and other announcements it could make post-listing to keep the markets positive about its performance.
And so it is doing so today with a seemingly small, but actually pretty cool piece of news for the company. Twilio is rolling out Sync, a tool designed to help keep applications in sync across different devices and sessions. The idea being that developers can build experiences that are consistent across the different devices they wish to support. It also means they can add multi-user collaboration capabilities into their applications without having to think about the pesky details of state.
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Essentially Sync moves state to the cloud and creates a consistent API layer that can "talk" to both web and mobile applications.
The utility of this is fairly obvious: Users want to achieve an experience that is seamless between their various devices. The initial focus of this was within the context of user interfaces and experiences. That is largely a solved problem (I was to pick up my laptop and have it magically intuit exactly what I was up to on a particular application on my mobile device). Now the thornier problems remain around state.
While at first blush this would seem to be somewhat peripheral for Twilio, it does, of course, have a relevance to the company's core communications business. Messaging applications, in particular, need to show their users who is online and who is idle—that is a state problem to solve. Similarly, with gaming contexts, state is important.
“All modern applications are real-time applications,” said Patrick Malatack, vice president of product at Twilio. “With Twilio Sync, Twilio takes care of the real-time infrastructure so that developers can focus on building the cross-platform, interactive experiences their users now expect.”
Twilio Sync is designed to work either as a completely stand-alone state-management system or in tandem with Twilio's communication products. It enables developers to build a variety of experiences, including the following:
- Cross-platform apps — Maintain current app state in real time across every device a consumer uses to access an application. Provide a seamless experience each time they return to the app by bringing them back to wherever they left off.
- User availability — Build presence into your apps that allows users to visualize, make decisions and communicate based on who’s available and who’s busy, the last time they were active on the app, or any other custom status.
- Remote collaboration — Co-browse and co-edit within your existing applications. Whether that’s guiding a customer through a complex process in a web or mobile app, or collaborating in a document or text editor.
Twilio isn't the only company trying to solve this problem. In particular, many of the mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) vendors also offer syncing of this type. However, Twilio's flavor will both be very applicable to Twilio's existing customer base and a useful addition that Wall Street and developers alike will no doubt appreciate.
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