Telegram Messenger is a popular messaging app with a growing reputation. But what is Telegram? How does it work? And what features have helped Telegram grow such a loyal userbase?
In this article we investigate why people love Telegram. And if you read about the features that make Telegram stand out from the crowd perhaps you’ll discover you love it too.
What Is Telegram?
At its core, Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging app. It’s one of many WhatsApp alternatives worth checking out.
Telegram was founded in 2013 by Nikolai and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair launched the popular Russian social network site, VKontakte (VK). They sold the business in 2014 and fled Russia after refusing to release data about Ukrainian protest leaders.
The Telegram app has received praise for its more open, safe, secure, and private approach to sending messages. Unlike WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, Telegram Messenger is controlled and operated by an independent company.
Today, Telegram Messenger is available on all of the major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. There’s also a web-based version. Telegram is free to download and use.
Which Telegram Messenger Features Do People Love?
Why has Telegram grown so much in recent years? And what features differentiate it from the other instant messaging apps on the market?
1. Telegram Messenger Is More Secure
Telegram uses the MTProto protocol. This protocol is divided into three components:
- High-Level Component: The client and the server send messages within a session. Sessions are connected to client devices rather than relying on a WebSocket.
- Cryptographic Authorization Component: Messages have a 64-bit key identifier and a 128-bit message key. The two keys are combined with a 256-bit key that’s scrambled using AES-256 encryption.
- Transport Component: Establishes whether to use HTTP, HTTPS, WS, WSS, TCP, or UDP for the client and the server to transmit their messages.
WhatsApp uses the Signal protocol to operate its end-to-end encryption. It uses Curve25519 key pairs for the public keys, and a mix of 32-bit and 80-bit values for the session keys.
2. Telegram Has a Bot API
If you’re a developer, you can create your own custom bots for Telegram. Users can interact with them using messages, commands, and in-line requests.
This presence of bot APIs opens up a world of possibilities. Of course, you could make one for simple tasks like receiving weather forecasts and news headlines. But it’s also possible to come up with more advanced uses; you can integrate it with third-party apps such as WordPress, payment services, and other social media platforms.
Today, there are lots of publicly available Telegram Messenger bots worth checking out.
3. What Is Telegram’s Monetization Policy?
We all know about Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to user data. And while WhatsApp remains ad-free and data collection-free for now, that’s all set to change in 2020.
At the annual Facebook Marketing Summit in May 2019, it was revealed that WhatsApp statuses would start adding ads. According to leaked images, ads will take up the entire screen when you click on someone’s update. It feels like the start of a slippery slope.
Coming Soon to @WhatsApp…
– WhatsApp Status (Stories) to get Ads in 2020
– WhatsApp for Businesses to get richer messaging format options
– WhatsApp product catalog to be integrated with existing Facebook Business Manager catalog
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) May 21, 2019
Telegram Messenger takes a much more acceptable approach. On its website, the company confirms that “Telegram is free and will stay free—no ads, no subscription fees, forever.”
So, what is Telegram’s monetization policy? According to the Telegram FAQ:
“Pavel Durov […] supplied Telegram with a generous donation, so we have quite enough money for the time being. If Telegram runs out, we will introduce non-essential paid options to support the infrastructure and finance developer salaries. But making profits will never be an end-goal for Telegram.”
4. Telegram Supports Larger Groups
Telegram allows people to add up to 200,000 users to a group. In contrast, WhatsApp’s maximum group size is 256, despite rumors constantly circulating that the company is planning to increase the limit.
Although very few users will ever need 200,000 people in a group, there are lots of conceivable situations where you might need more than 256. In those cases, Telegram is the better solution.
Telegram also supports hashtags. They can help to provide structure to larger groups.
5. Telegram Supports Larger Files
You can use Telegram Messenger to send files up to 1.5GB in size. Those files become instantly available on all your devices and can be easily shared with other users.
In contrast, WhatsApp limits shared files to 100MB. That’s barely enough for a medium-length video.
6. You Can Schedule the Sending of Messages
Telegram allows users to schedule messages in the future. The feature has a number of practical benefits. For example, you can create reminders for yourself about future appointments or release a piece of news to a large group at a specific time.
7. You Can Save Messages on Telegram Messenger
All Telegram Messenger users have access to a personal cloud storage facility. The feature rolled out in November 2017.
You can bookmark messages and keep them in your saved folder (useful if you use Telegram in a professional environment), write yourself notes and reminders, and forward saved messages to other users and platforms.
8. Send Messages to Anyone
If you want to send a message to someone on WhatsApp (or almost every other mainstream instant messaging app), you first need to know their phone number and add them as a contact.
Telegram works on a username basis. As long as you know someone’s username, you can send them a message. There’s also a search feature, so you can try and find the person you want to contact even if you’ve never spoken to them before.
For security, users can disable unsolicited messages in the app’s settings. You are also under no obligation to set a username. Without one, other people will not be able to find you in search.
More Telegram Features to Explore
The Telegram features we’ve discussed here explain why people love Telegram over its rivals.
However, there’s a long list of features we haven’t mentioned. Secret chats, self-destructing messages, channels, the ability to delete your messages for all users without a trace, photo albums, pinned messages, and customizable themes are just some of the other Telegram features worth exploring.
If you’d like to learn more about Telegram and its features, be sure to read our article listing the best Telegram channels and how to use them. We have also compiled a list of useful Telegram features you should be using.