Phone to App Calls

In this guide, we'll learn how to forward an incoming phone call from a Nexmo phone number to an in-app user by implementing a Webhook and linking that to a Nexmo application.

Before you begin

Before we begin you’ll need a few things:

$ npm install -g nexmo-cli@beta
$ nexmo setup api_key api_secret

Forwarding a call to a user

When a user calls a Nexmo virtual phone number associated with a voice application, Nexmo retrieves the Nexmo Call Control Objects (NCCO) from your answer_url Webhook endpoint. We'll try to answer the call with a synthesized voice that reads some text and then connects the call onwards to a user. We'll use the NCCO to create the call flow.

Creating a webhook endpoint

We're going to write the Webhook using Node and ExpressJS. If you prefer a different language, feel free to use something else — there are Nexmo client libraries for JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, and .NET!

We'll need to install a few things:

$ npm install express body-parser --save

Create an index.js file, instantiate express and body-parser, and listen to the server on port 3000.

'use strict';
const express = require('express');
const bodyParser = require('body-parser');
const app = express();
app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({extended: true}));

const server = app.listen(3000, () => {
  console.log('Express server listening on port %d in %s mode', server.address().port, app.settings.env);

Let's add an endpoint for /event that logs all the events coming from the Nexmo Application:'/event', (req, res) => {

We also need an endpoint for /answer, responding to HTTP GET requests, that is going to deliver the NCCO when the Nexmo Application retrieves the answer_url. We'll use a talk building block so the call generates text-to-speech letting the user know they're calling Jamie, followed by a connect block. Notice that the connect action is using type app. This means that the second leg of the call is completed using the In-App channel (via WebRTC) in order to then connect the call with an existing app user. You can add your own phone number in the from field.

app.get('/answer', (req, res) => {
  var ncco = [
      action: "talk",
      text: "Thank you for calling Jamie"
      "action": "connect",
      "from": "449876543210",
      "endpoint": [
          "type": "app",
          "user": "jamie"


Now let's run the server:

$ node index.js

While you're developing, you can run the server locally, and use ngrok to make the server publicly available on the internet, so Nexmo can reach it. We have a tutorial on how to do that!

Now we'll have to connect the Webhook to a Nexmo Application. I'm going to assume you already have one and show you how to update that application to use the Webhook we just created.

Update your existing application with Webhook URLs

You need the Application ID to update the information. You can use the app:list command with the Nexmo CLI:

$ nexmo app:list

The CLI should return a list of each app ID and an app name. Now, use the correct app ID to update the application with the webhook URLs:

$ nexmo app:update aaaaaaaa-bbbb-cccc-dddd-0123456789ab "My Voice App"

Finally, you need to associate your application with the virtual number you rent from Nexmo. Let’s use the Nexmo CLI again. Use the command nexmo link:app followed by the phone number, which must start with a country code and then the app ID. So, the command should look like this:

$ nexmo link:app 449876543210 aaaaaaaa-bbbb-cccc-dddd-0123456789ab

When the linking is successful, the CLI returns with the message, “Number updated”.


Now that you've linked your number to your application, whenever someone calls your Nexmo number they are going to be connected to a user via In-App Voice. If you want to test this out, you can check out the JavaScript, Android, and iOS guides detailing how you can implement calling using the SDKs.

What's next?

If you'd like to continue learning how to use the Nexmo Stitch SDK, check out our In-App Voice quick start where we show you how to make an outbound PSTN call with Stitch and read the NCCO guide for calling.

Note: Making calls from a phone to an app user via APAC(Asia Pacific) LVNs is unfortunately currently unsupported.