Ask a friend about which messaging app she uses and you’re likely to hear Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and maybe Hangouts by Google (although that’s a lot less likely). But since 2013 there’s been another messaging tool out there called Telegram, which offers several key benefits over its more commercial competitors. Here’s what you need to know.
Telegram prides itself on not taking any money from advertisers, so that means the conversations you have using its service do not get passed along to corporations looking to sell you something – unlike Facebook and WhatsApp.
Additionally, Telegram provides two levels of encryption – server/client for all open chats and end-to-end encryption for “Secret Chats” (see below). The first level of encryption is actually not as robust as the general chat feature on WhatsApp, which encrypts all communications from one user to another directly.
But Telegram truly shines with its “Secret Chat” feature. While this feature can only accommodate a chat between two users, it not only protects the content of your conversation by using end-to-end encryption, but it also allows you to set self-destruct timers on your messages, so that they simply disappear after a period of time you determine – which is truly the most secure way to keep your conversation from prying eyes.
While group chats aren’t encrypted end-to-end, Telegram lets you have up to 200,000 members in a group, which pretty much makes up for this slight downside and turns the app into something like a Reddit replacement.
Fun and friendly
You might think that an app that makes no money from advertisers and has security as its main goal might be a little somber and spartan, but that’s not the case. Telegram is a cinch to use and has a very engaging user interface. Getting started is as easy as creating an account with your phone number, choosing a username, and finding people to chat with. Because all chats except Secret Chats are stored in the cloud, your conversations will be available on all devices on which Telegram works including PCs, Macs, and mobile devices running Android or iOS.
Telegram also allows you to send a multitude of files stored either on your device or on cloud services including Google Drive and iCloud Drive and – here’s a real benefit – there is no limit on file size.
What’s more, Telegram encourages its users to create their own stickers, which leads to an impressive collection of fun and colorful icons to use while chatting. Additionally, the app offers robust photo-manipulation tools, which let you do things like controlling a photo’s exposure, sharpness, blur, and more. Various masks and stickers can also be placed on photos as well as your own drawings, and it’s a cinch to turn video clips into looping GIFs.
And did we mention that the app is completely free?