What is Azure Communication Services?

Azure Communication Services are cloud-based services with REST APIs and client library SDKs available to help you integrate communication into your applications. You can add communication features to your applications without being an expert in communication technologies such as media encoding and real-time networking. This functionality is also supported in Azure for government.

Azure Communication Services supports various communication formats:

  1. Voice and Video Calling
  2. Rich Text Chat
  3. SMS

You can connect custom client endpoints, custom services, and the publicly switched telephony network (PSTN) to your communications application. You can acquire phone numbers directly through Azure Communication Services REST APIs, SDKs, or the Azure portal; and use these numbers for SMS or calling applications. Azure Communication Services direct routing allows you to use SIP and session border controllers to connect your own PSTN carriers and bring your own phone numbers.

In addition to REST APIs, Azure Communication Services client libraries are available for various platforms and languages, including Web browsers (JavaScript), iOS (Swift), Java (Android), Windows (.NET). A UI library for web browsers can accelerate development for mobile and desktop browsers. Azure Communication Services is identity agnostic and you control how end users are identified and authenticated.

Scenarios for Azure Communication Services include:

  • Business to Consumer (B2C). A business' employees and services interact with consumers using voice, video, and rich text chat in a custom browser or mobile application. An organization can send and receive SMS messages, or operate an interactive voice response system (IVR) using a phone number you acquire through Azure. Integration with Microsoft Teams can be used to connect consumers to Teams meetings hosted by employees; ideal for remote healthcare, banking, and product support scenarios where employees might already be familiar with Teams.
  • Consumer to Consumer (C2C). Build engaging social spaces for consumer-to-consumer interaction with voice, video, and rich text chat. Any type of user interface can be built on Azure Communication Services SDKs, or use complete application samples and an open-source UI toolkit to help you get started quickly.

To learn more, check out our Microsoft Mechanics video or the resources linked below.

Common scenarios


Resource Description
Create a Communication Services resource Begin using Azure Communication Services by using the Azure portal or Communication Services SDK to provision your first Communication Services resource. Once you have your Communication Services resource connection string, you can provision your first user access tokens.
Get a phone number Use Azure Communication Services to provision and release telephone numbers. These telephone numbers can be used to initiate or receive phone calls and build SMS solutions.
Send an SMS from your app Azure Communication Services SMS REST APIs and SDKs is used send and receive SMS messages from service applications.

After creating a Communication Services resource you can start building client scenarios, such as voice and video calling or text chat:

Resource Description
Create your first user access token User access tokens authenticate clients against your Azure Communication Services resource. These tokens are provisioned and reissued using Communication Services Identity APIs and SDKs.
Get started with voice and video calling Azure Communication Services allows you to add voice and video calling to your browser or native apps using the Calling SDK.
Add telephony calling to your app With Azure Communication Services you can add telephony calling capabilities to your application.
Join your calling app to a Teams meeting Azure Communication Services can be used to build custom meeting experiences that interact with Microsoft Teams. Users of your Communication Services solution(s) can interact with Teams participants over voice, video, chat, and screen sharing.
Get started with chat The Azure Communication Services Chat SDK is used to add rich real-time text chat into your applications.
Connect a Microsoft Bot to a phone number Telephony channel is a channel in Microsoft Bot Framework that enables the bot to interact with users over the phone. It leverages the power of Microsoft Bot Framework combined with the Azure Communication Services and the Azure Speech Services.

Samples

The following samples demonstrate end-to-end usage of the Azure Communication Services. Use these samples to bootstrap your own Communication Services solutions.

Sample name Description
The Group Calling Hero Sample Download a designed application sample for group calling for browsers, iOS, and Android devices.
The Group Chat Hero Sample Download a designed application sample for group text chat for browsers.
The Web Calling Sample Download a designed web application sample for audio, video, and PSTN calling.

Platforms and SDK libraries

Learn more about the Azure Communication Services SDKs with the resources below. REST APIs are available for most functionality if you want to build your own clients or otherwise access the service over the Internet.

Resource Description
SDK libraries and REST APIs Azure Communication Services capabilities are conceptually organized into six areas, each represented by an SDK. You can decide which SDK libraries to use based on your real-time communication needs.
Calling SDK overview Review the Communication Services Calling SDK overview.
Chat SDK overview Review the Communication Services Chat SDK overview.
SMS SDK overview Review the Communication Services SMS SDK overview.

Other Microsoft Communication Services

There are two other Microsoft communication products you may consider using that are not directly interoperable with Communication Services at this time:

  • Microsoft Graph Cloud Communication APIs allow organizations to build communication experiences tied to Azure Active Directory users with Microsoft 365 licenses. This is ideal for applications tied to Azure Active Directory or where you want to extend productivity experiences in Microsoft Teams. There are also APIs to build applications and customization within the Teams experience.

  • Azure PlayFab Party simplifies adding low-latency chat and data communication to games. While you can power gaming chat and networking systems with Communication Services, PlayFab is a tailored option and free on Xbox.

Next Steps