Layer, the company making it possible for developers to add rich messaging capabilities to their apps without having to build their own infrastructure from the ground up, is today making its service available to the public, following its beta period that began with its TechCrunch Disrupt win back in 2013. In addition to today's launch, Layer is also introducing a new product called Atlas, a toolkit that will allow developers to even more quickly integrate or customize an iMessage-like messaging feature in their iOS or Android applications. The idea behind Layer is that messaging can be a service that developers can add into their applications using only a few lines of code, simplifying what would otherwise be a more complex development project, and allowing them to focus instead on what makes their app different from the next one in terms of unique features or style. Layer supports the ability to send text, voice, photo and video messages, and can be used in either standalone messaging apps, or in apps where messaging is only one of many features, and not the app's main purpose. After the service debuted at Disrupt, it immediately saw 2,500 sign-ups from interested developers who wanted to test the beta. Since then, Layer has grown its number of access requests to over 10,000. Some of its early adopters include the apps Pop and Imoji, for example. However, not all developers have been able to use the product until now, because of its private beta status. Today, there are just around 1,500 active developers using Layer on a monthly basis. Those numbers should now increase as Layer takes its service public. Layer is priced based on an app's monthly active users, and offers a free tier which allows developers to build prototype apps - like those they create to test a product on the market to see if it resonates with users, for example. After they reach over 1,000 monthly active users, pricing begins at $99 per month for up to 25,000 monthly active users and increases from there. However, explains Layer founder and CEO Ron Palmeri, as developers began testing the product, the company started to receive a lot of requests for sample code. "We assumed initially that people would want a service and an API, and they would want to do their own client-side development," he says. "But we got enough requests for this [sample code], we realized that if we invested enough time and energy, it would really be helpful." Layer today is rolling out the results of their work in this area. With the UI (user interface) framework it's calling Atlas, developers have access to source code for generic, iMessage-like messaging components for their apps, which they can use as-is or customize to whatever extent they choose. They can change the fonts or colors, or they can simply use Atlas as the basis for building a highly differentiated messaging service of their own. Everything in Atlas is customizable - it's as if you were able to take iMessage and make it your own. Included in Atlas are all the common features found in typical messaging apps, including things like conversation bubbles, typing indicators, read receipts, delivery status, location support, emoji and GIF support, and more. The code for Atlas is open source, and is fully integrated with Layer, making it easier to kickstart the process of integrating messaging into an app. Atlas is live today on a dedicated website here, and Layer is also now open to any interested developers. Layer, now a team of 30, is backed by $14.5 million in funding from Jerry Yang's AME Cloud Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, Homebrew, Data Collective and others.
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