How do I create an app?
Messenger & Inbox apps explained, the difference between public and private apps, and more.
Damon Alexander avatar
Written by Damon Alexander
Updated over a week ago

You’ll find all of the information you need to start building apps here on our developer hub. 

What kind of apps can I build?

You can create three types of apps: 

What’s the difference between an app and apps in the Messenger or Inbox?


An app is anything that integrates with the Intercom platform, so you can connect Intercom with other products. Most apps don’t surface in the Intercom UI itself - they send data and take actions in products through our API.

For example, Google Analytics and Slack are apps that allow you to take all kinds of actions, to analyze your visitor data and help you manage conversations in other channels. Neither of them have an Inbox or Messenger app.

Apps in the Messenger

Apps in the Messenger are a specific type of app that make it easy for your customers to get more done in the Messenger than just chat. They are great for providing useful information in the Messenger to save your customers’ time.

These apps are small widgets you can use in the Intercom Messenger. For example, the Shopify app is an app and a Messenger app. It lets you send your Shopify data to Intercom. But it also comes with a Messenger app that allows your customers to see and search their Shopify order status in the Messenger home. 

Then there are Messenger apps that are standalone. The Google Meet app, for example, lets you join video calls with your customers in conversations. It doesn’t do anything else, like send data between Intercom and Google.

Messenger apps can surface in three places: 

  • They can appear in the Messenger home, so visitors and users can complete workflows without needing to start a conversation.

  • Teammates can share them in conversations to help improve workflows for visitors and users.

  • You can set them up to automatically send in outbound messages to your visitors or users to help them take actions, like book a meeting or sign up for your newsletter. 

Some Messenger apps can be used in all places; others can be used in only one place. 

Apps in the Inbox

Apps in the Inbox are a specific type of app that make it easy for teammates to see the right information and take quick actions to support your users or convert your leads. They are great for streamlining existing workflows and enabling new ones by bringing other services into the Inbox.

The Stripe app for example, lets you view your Stripe customers’ account info, start new subscriptions, or upgrade existing ones. All without leaving the inbox.

Some Inbox apps can send Messenger apps in conversations; others can only be used internally by teammates. 

Note: You can see examples of Messenger and Inbox apps in the Intercom App store. Just filter by ‘Works with’:

What’s the difference between a public and private app?

You can also choose to create either public or private Messenger apps.

  • A public app is an app you’ve built for other companies to use. It’ll be listed on the Intercom App Store, with the label showing that it was built by your company. For example, the Aircall app is a public app.

  • A private app is an app you’ve created for just your team to use in conjunction with your own product. It won’t be listed on the Intercom app store. For example, Chargedesk built a private Messenger app, so their customer support team could easily share invoices with their customers:


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