This isn’t an April Fools’ joke: Twilio now works with fax machines. The cloud communications company announced on Friday the launch of Programmable Fax, a service to lets apps send and receive faxes. It might seem strange to some, but there are businesses in various industries that still rely on fax machines. Twilio’s offering bridges the gap between these companies’ desire to modernize and the workflows they’re restricted to.
“This is about listening to customers and having them guide our roadmap,” explained product manager Patrick Malatack, in an interview with VentureBeat. “They’ve been asking for fax capabilities for a while now.”
He cites the on-demand economy as an industry that could benefit the most from this, since it involves businesses that are integrating apps with legacy workflows and equipment. Developers can incorporate Programmable Fax into their apps so that when customers send communications, they can be received by recipients via fax. So if you have to return a signed mortgage application, it could be done with your finger, but then the bank or lender would be provided a facsimile copy that is considered legal.
“Businesses have been taking orders over phone and fax for 20 years, that’s the way they want to do their business,” Malatack said. “[With Programmable Fax], they get to bridge the world of software with what hasn’t been addressable [before].”
The addition of fax allows Twilio to provide developers tools to target regulated industries, as well as more choices in how to reach customers. Twilio already offers solutions around voice, text messaging, chat, MMS, and more. This variety could open up new and possibly creative opportunities for developers working on making the process more convenient for customers.
When the feature is implemented, faxes can be sent using a POST request to Twilio. You’ll need the fax-enabled Twilio number, the recipient’s number, and a web address where the media can be found — currently only PDFs can be transmitted.
Those interested in receiving faxes through their app will need a Twilio-enabled fax number that is forwarded to Twilio, or ported over. When a fax is sent to the number, Twilio will connect with a pre-specified web address and provide a converted PDF. These fax numbers will initially only be available in the U.S. and Canada, though more will be released on a rolling basis.
Twilio’s Programmable Fax costs $0.01 per page, along with any applicable connectivity costs.
“We want to automate legacy workflows,” Malatack said.