We round up the essential facts you ought to know about Telegram, the messaging app that’s taking the world by storm, by promising trustworthy privacy.
The innovative brainchild of Russian entrepreneurs-slash-brothers Nikolai Durov and Pavel Durov, Telegram sits in that odd spot between mystery and mass-popularity. With up to 400 million monthly active users, it’s among the most popular messaging services in the world, yet still very little is known about it.
For those who do know, however, the popularity comes as little surprise. Offering secret chats that allow for messages to be encrypted, the application draws in crowds of users who value privacy and guaranteed protection from the eyes of various intelligence services — something few others have been able to offer. From how “end-to-end” encryption actually works, to the various other perks that differentiate Telegram from the rest, here are the key things to know about the messaging app.
You can have ‘Secret Chats’ — and they’ll stay secret, too.
Arguably the most popular feature of Telegram is the ‘Secret Chat’ option, made possible by the service’s end-to-end encryption under Telegram’s secure MTProto messaging protocol, which nations worldwide have failed to crack. This method of encryption converts messages into a code through a server in the middle, making it close to impossible for outsiders to meddle with communication between two users. What this basically means is that a two-way conversation is completely safe from any outsiders seeing what’s been sent — whether that’s a company, hackers, someone else, or even the government.
While all chats are encrypted, end-to-end encryption is currently only used in video and voice calls, as well as ‘Secret Chats’. These differ from regular messages as are not cloud-based, and can only be accessed from the original device. On top of that, secret chat messages — images included — can also be set to self-destruct after a certain time, with options ranging from two seconds to a week. All other chats, however, use client-server encryption, so those worried about security can rest assured.
Telegram also comes with a username feature, making it possible to send messages to other users without necessarily knowing their phone number. All this, along with the option of two-factor authentication, means you can fully hide your identity and what you’re sending through Telegram, making it highly appealing in a new age of communication.
Chats can be sent in groups of up to 200,000 people.
Pushing the limits of broadcast messaging, Telegram has various options regarding group sizes, which can go up to 200,000 people. If, however, you’re looking to blast messages to an even larger group, you can opt to use Telegram’s channels. These can accommodate an unlimited number of members — and if you happen to be the creator of the channel, you can even control who’s allowed to post in it for all members to see.
It works on multiple platforms, and multiple devices.
Available for IOS, Android, Windows phones and PCs, Mac OS, Linus OX, and any browser, Telegram is highly accessible, and also works on multiple devices at the same time. What this means, of course, is that you can easily start a chat on one device, and seamlessly continue it on others. The service even remembers your sessions on browsers, and offers the ability to view all your active sessions and see where you’re logged on.
With all text messages, images, and even media files and documents saved on their cloud, Telegram also offers unlimited storage and protects your chats from data loss, offering the pretty convenient option of being able to download files from anywhere.
The file size limit is pretty impressive.
Perfect for sending anything from mini video files, to selfies in high-definition, Telegram offers the option to send media content as it is, or after in-app compression. While most of its competitors in the messenger sector offer some pretty restrictive file size limits — often somewhere around 100MB — Telegram can support up to 2GB sized files per time. Almost any file type can be shared in chats and stored in the Telegram cloud, where users have unlimited storage.
You can bring bots into your chat to do some nifty tricks.
Put simply, Bots are unique, AI, learning-based services that can be found inside Telegram, and can be pulled into various chats and channels to perform simple tasks. These tasks can range to anything from scheduling self-destruction timers and setting polls (ControllerBot), to searching for flights and hotels (EddyTravels_bot), creating to-do lists (SkeddyBot), and even providing real-time pollution stats (Smokey_bot).
To find out more about Telegram, visit telegram.org.
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