Friday, March 31, 2017

Twilio now lets developers send and receive faxes

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No, this is not an April Fools’ joke: cloud communications platform Twilio today announced the launch of its “programmable fax” service.


While Twilio’s general focus has been on reinventing the phone company (with a focus on developers), fax is a decidedly old-school technology. But it’s an old technology that is still an important tool for many businesses and government offices. “Our mission is to fuel the future of communications,” Twilio VP of product Patrick Malatack told me. “Even though fax is not a futuristic technology, it’s something we’ve been asked about by our users.”


Twilio trialed the fax product with a number of companies, including the NY-based pizza delivery service Slice. Local pizza shops tend to have their own culture and often, that doesn’t involve having a lot of computer equipment to take orders — but they probably still have a fax machine. Slice can now send orders for its drivers to those shops using Twilio’s fax service.


Faxes are also still quite popular in the health care and real estate worlds, for example, and the company hopes that its new service will allow some companies to at least automate part of their workflow thanks to this new service.


As Malatack noted, the developer experience for sending faxes isn’t all that different from Twilio’s MMS picture messaging API, for example. While that API takes JPG files as its input, the fax API uses PDF files.


Twilio will charge developers $0.01 per faxed page, plus the company’s usual telco cost for completing the calls.

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