App Development

In-App Chat vs. Third-Party Messaging – Which option is right for your app?

 A ‘community’ has become the basic unit for business apps using best chat platform, to have a thriving online life. In an online community, users chat with each other, building relationships akin to socializing offline, forging camaraderie and thereby doubling the power to acquire and retain users on the app. Studies have found that users return to the messaging apps time and again when there is a strong community presence due to interaction and discussion among the users.

Strong and active online community that an app has

  • Firstly, sees higher user engagement rates
  • Secondly, has lower cost per install
  • Thirdly, lesser rate of exit of users   

The following sections compare and contrast the functionality of two popular options for integrated chat features for an app:

  1. In-app chat
  2. Third party messaging

What is  In-app Chat?

The core feature of an in-app chat is that all communication between users whether individual-to-individual or as a group is on the app itself. It is therefore a major communication tool in real time bringing together groups and individuals. It is a powerful method for building communities and for users to return to the app frequently.

The in-app chat is a free to use feature and requires minimum additional infrastructure. The use of mobile data or connection to Wi-Fi is sufficient. It will also deliver an offline messaging experience in the environment of the app itself.

Benefits of In-app Chat

1 .Enhanced User Experience (UX)

  •  For Developers – in-app chat is convenient as it is flexible to use, ensures seamless interface and dismisses the need for add-on touch points like email. They have better control on UX and can change it to meet specific goals and cases of use
  •  For Users – in-app chat is easy to learn to use, the interface is familiar and quicker to adopt in comparison to other forms like email or forums. They can use media like GIFs, audio files and videos to exchange, customize profiles for specific avatars or nicknames and keep track of exchanges using threaded messages

2. Insightful Analytics By studying such data, monitoring the online conversations for abusive chatter will be possible as is gaining the context for app friction points and improved understanding of user community. Observe transacting behavior to build sales funnel, with necessary security protocol in place.

3. Protecting Contact Details of the users

For users who are cautious about sharing personal details, in-app chat allows them anonymity but the community feels especially when using forums or marketplace apps.

4. Retention-Engagement Rate optimized

Traffic arrives on the app, pushing user adoption and ensuring engagement, retention, and conversions. Push-notification ensures further key metrics management. Signature features of real-time interaction such as user presence in conversations, typing indicators all add to the ‘human’ feel of the conversations. These features create a rhythm for exchanging texts and having an experience that is similar to a face-to-face conversation

5 . Chat SDK simplifies integration

App developer teams can use ready-to-use in-chat software or Chat Software-Developer-Kit for quick installation of this functionality in your app and cut down on time and costs of development of chat messaging apps.

Also Read : How can I make my own SVOD platform?

Limitations of In-App Chat

While the use of in-app chat has its advantages, there are primary challenges

 For developers

  • Very complex to develop independently by developers
  • Long software development cycle

For Users

  • Internet connections are a necessity for sending and receiving messages
  • If users opt-out of push notifications, it can be a challenge or fail to see messages  

What are theThird-party Messaging Apps

In contrast to the in-app chat feature is the third-party messaging functionality. The short message services or SMS which is a text format of message delivery comes at a cost to the end-user. Third-party messaging apps are essentially free to use and leverage the internet connection over the cellular data to deliver text.

The messaging platform is growing in popularity, as seen in the explosive growth of WhatsApp messaging services and easy integration into a business app. 

Benefits of Third-party Messaging Apps

1. Free to use

The cost to users with integrating a third party messaging is minimized. Therefore the advantage of no development cost can be transferred to the user.

2. Optimizes the user experience and does not require development processes

In integrating third-party messenger, it is similar to the SMS services but in an in-app Chat feature, the user can have a higher degree of customization and the feature of group chat functionality. Media sharing capabilities like video calls and sending out audio file messages is also integrated.

The community crafting features are therefore significantly available when third-party messaging is integrated into the app development process itself.

3. Omnichannel

Users can download third-party messaging apps on any device they use and remain synchronized as they can communicate seamlessly despite using multiple numbers of devices.

Limitations of Third-Party Messaging Apps

The disadvantages of using third-party messaging apps

1.   Lack of analytic features

There is no analytics because the messengers are not able to capture data specific to customer engagement and interaction. Monitoring abusive chat or application of learning is also limited.

2. Security issues

It is really difficult for security protocols to be implemented since they differ from one party to another. Many of the third-party messenger products do not feature the E2EE and other protocols leading to data breaches. 

3. There is no brand awareness

Third-party messaging platforms cannot have branding elements as in the case of in-app chat such as the logo or the colors and fonts, unlike third-party messaging solutions. In-app chat keeps users within the app and they can send or respond to messages or view messages and thereby ensuring that the brand presence is reiterated at every stage.

Why is in-app chat a better tool over third-party messaging?

For app development teams, it is always a choice between two options of community-building chat functionalities: In-app chat and third-party messaging.

When deciding on the chat solution for your App, the cost of developing the feature, the type of UX it can deliver, and the quality of community it can build have to be determined. While a third-party chat tool ensures messaging is media-rich functionality, it lacks app engagement and retention. Ready-made chat SDK ensures tightly integrated in-app chat feature, better user experience, flexibility and protects user privacy thereby encouraging a robust chat community in-app.


Richard is a communication enthusiast who is keen on learning more strategies & excels in the new digital trends. he has interest in modern chat communication & loves to explore the real-time communication world.

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