Product Comparison: Stream vs. Layer

Scott L.
Scott L.
Published December 16, 2019 Updated February 28, 2020

Update: Layer has shut down their API. Read about how to migrate from Layer and read our own thoughts about it.

Chat and messaging are critical components to application success. When searching for a provider to enable in-app chat, you might compare Chat by Stream with Layer’s chat. Layer has been providing a chat solution for about 6 years. Although Chat by Stream is a new product, it already surpasses layer in performance, stability, ease of integration and has many more out of the box features.

We’ve had several customers tell us that they’ve lost messages in Layer – in one case as much as 5%. Layer was also recently acquired, casting further uncertainty as to their product direction and market viability.


  • Stream has years of experience building highly scalable, high performing infrastructure powering activity and news feeds for hundreds of customers.
  • Stream’s solution is feature rich, providing capabilities like AI moderation, @mentions, banning/muting users, custom objects, threads, reaction, slash commands and built-in search.
  • Stream has a ready to go script to import your layer data in one step, making you ready to go in a snap.
  • Stream provides an extensive portfolio of front end components and a beautiful UI kit to make integration easier than any other product on the market.

High-Level Overview

Chat by Stream is the most complete chat solution available. It supports 5 use cases out of the box providing a beautiful UI kit for each in both light and dark modes. The UI kit can be handed off to your designer and they’ll have all the assets at their fingertips making it a breeze to swap out what they need to. The 5 use cases are:

  • Social Messenger
  • Livestream
  • Commerce
  • Team
  • Gaming

Selecting the use case will modify your chat settings for that usage (example: Livestream will turn off typing indicators and read status since the volume will be so high).

Built on top of Go, Raft, and RocksDB, Chat by Stream leverages many of the same components our market leading Feed solution is built upon. Over the years our team has learned how to scale feeds to support billions of updates a month in real time, and we’ve used that experience to create one of the fastest and most scalable chat solutions possible. We are trusted by Under Armour, Unsplash, NBC Sports, eToro and many others. We are GDPR compliant and HIPAA ready.

Layer has moved away from a general chat solution (deprecated 1:1 messaging) to focus on customer care chat. They were also recently acquired by Engagio, making it likely they’ll continue to push even further in that direction.

Stream’s Strengths over Layer

  • Connection management
  • Premium Features
  • Admin Moderation Tools and AI moderation
  • Highly scalable, stable and high performing infrastructure
  • Simple migration

Connection Management

Many customers have reported issues with Layer’s connection management. The end result is that users would sometimes lose chat messages that they believed were already stored. Stream implements a fully persistent connection protocol which ensures that messages are delivered reliably.

Premium Features

Out of the box, Stream provides advanced features for your one to one, group or open channel messaging experiences. Features like @mentions, search, custom objects, slash commands, on-prem option, and rich-URL preview. We also provide developers with a clean API and webhooks, allowing them to build custom features like chatbots, user polls and anything else they dream up.

Admin Moderation Tools and AI Moderation

Stream provides admins the ability to mute and ban users, mute channels, and send system-wide notifications to help keep your conversations civil. Our tools allow you to provide user safety within your app. Activating our AI based moderation will automatically protect your users from spam, profanity and explicit content.

Layer doesn’t offer any moderation tools.

Highly Scalable, Stable and High Performing Infrastructure

Chat by Stream is built upon the same Go, Raft, and RocksDB infrastructure that powers the activity and notification feeds for over 300 million end users. With the ability to support millions of concurrent connections for a single app, thousands in group chat and channels, Stream’s ability to scale is second to none.

Stream’s feed infrastructure has had 99.99% uptime over the past 12 months, showcasing the kind of stability customers can rely on.

Simple Migration

Stream has helped many customers move away from Layer and onto Chat by Stream. We’ve developed a migration tool that will take your Layer export and import into Stream with little effort. Companies have been switching to Stream because of our:

  • Scalability
  • Performance
  • Stability
  • Advanced Features
  • Customer Support

Try Us Out

Want to see how easy it is to move from Layer to Chat by Stream? Reach out and we’ll be happy to help you run a test yourself.

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