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Why Telegram has become the hottest messaging app in the world
Secret messages and advanced cryptography pose a challenge to WhatsApp
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When WhatsApp went down for four hours this weekend, nearly 5 million people signed up for messaging service Telegram. The app skyrocketed to the top of the App Store charts, and is now the top free app in 46 countries from Germany to Ecuador. In the US and several other countries, the app is no. 1 in the social networking category, ahead of Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, and others.
It’s not immediately clear why Telegram emerged as the alternative of choice following WhatsApp’s downtime. Users could have switched to Kik, or Facebook Messenger, or LINE — all of which have hundreds of millions of users. There’s seemingly something different about Telegram. Its rise isn’t only due to WhatsApp’s acquisition and subsequent downtime. “We have been the no. 1 app in Spanish, Arabic, and several Latin American app stores for several weeks before the Facebook deal happened,” says Telegram’s Markus Ra. “The growth was there — so the WhatsApp acquisition and problems merely multiplied the effect across all affected countries.” According to app analytics site App Annie, Telegram started truly gaining steam on February 17th, days before the WhatsApp news even hit.
Built by the pioneering Durov brothers behind Russia’s largest social network, VKontakte (also known as VK), Telegram is a messaging service combining the speed of WhatsApp with Snapchat’s ephemerality and advanced new security measures. WhatsApp might have heralded the first time we heard of Telegram, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Telegram feels in many ways like a straight-up clone of WhatsApp, from its green double-checkmark read receipts to its cartoonish wallpapers. There’s also the usual gamut of messaging app features including the ability to see a friend’s online status and attach photos, videos, your location, contacts, and documents to messages. But where it lacks originality, Telegram makes up for it in speed and security features. “Telegram is the fastest and most secure mass market messaging system in the world,” the company claims, which it attributes in part to Nikolai Durov’s open-sourced MTProto protocol. Telegram was in fact built as a testing bed for MTProto, Reuters reported when the app launched back in August. The company is so confident in the security of MTProto that it’s offering $200,000 to anyone who can crack it. It’s not unusual for companies to offer bug bounties, but bounties of this size are generally only reserved for critical bugs in widely used apps like Windows.
“The no. 1 reason for me to support and help launch Telegram was to build a means of communication that can’t be accessed by the Russian security agencies,” Durov told TechCrunch. Durov built in a feature that lets you start a “Secret Chat” with any of your friends. According to Telegram, Secret Chats offer end-to-end encryption, leave no trace on the company’s servers, and let you set Snapchat-esque self-destruct timers on messages that range from two seconds to one week. There’s also the ability to check the security of your Secret Chats using an image that serves as an encryption key. By comparing your encryption key to a friend’s, you can effectively verify that your conversation is secure and less vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, the company says. But despite Telegram’s alleged sophistication, no cryptographic method is infallible. The company has, in fact, already doled out $100,000 to one developer for finding a critical bug, TechCrunch reports.
“The no. 1 reason for me to [help launch] Telegram was to build a means of communication that can’t be accessed by the Russian security agencies.”
Telegram is interesting not just because of its stringent security standards, but also because it allows any developer to build a Telegram client of their own, and even for desktop computers. Most new messaging services today, including WhatsApp, build one-size-fits-all messaging apps and lock out third-party developers. It’s hard to blame them, since maintaining one federated language and security paradigm across dozens of apps is difficult. Also, making money off of a platform takes more thought than making money off a simple paid app. Yet, the Durovs’ VKontakte found a lot of success letting developers build alternate versions of its site. More importantly, Telegram operates as a non-profit organization, and doesn’t plan to charge for its services.
“Telegram is not intended to bring revenue, it will never sell ads or accept outside investment. It also cannot be sold,” the company writes in its FAQ. “We’re not building a ‘user base,’ we are building a messenger for the people.” If Telegram ever “runs out” of the money supplied by the Durov brothers, the company says, it will ask for donations from its users. Telegram’s noble goals echo the sentiments of many bright-eyed startup founders, but with the Durovs’ pocketbook in hand and the service’s open API available to third-party developers, it may actually have a chance at fulfilling its goals. Telegram isn’t a CryptoCat for the masses, considering it uses your phone number, of all things, as an identifier — but it’s an important step towards finding a highly encrypted messaging platform that’s accessible to anyone.
“Telegram is not intended to bring revenue, it will never sell ads.”
Championing an ostensibly noble goal, free services, and the experience of VKontakte’s creators, Telegram would seem like a great alternative to any of the leading messages apps out there. After WhatsApp’s acquisition news and downtime, the app is spiking at the right time. The company incentivized several million new users into switching over, but keeping those users will be a continuous challenge. “The switching cost for users on a phone number-based messaging services is at or near zero,” argues Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger in a blog post, but that’s only half the story. A network is only as strong as the number of friends you have using it, and convincing all of your friends to switch is no easy task. If Facebook thought that WhatsApp users were liable to switch at a moment’s notice, it wouldn’t have paid $19 billion for the company.
Facebook paid for WhatsApp’s user base, but also for its brand — a brand that spent years solving a very important problem: that it costs a fortune to text across borders. Perhaps the next messaging problem to solve is personal security, considering WhatsApp’s alleged cryptographic weaknesses and the NSA’s data collection policies. WhatsApp became synonymous with texting. Perhaps for Telegram to succeed, it will need to become synonymous with security.
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Telegram – The one Messenger app to rule them all
Aditya Mitra github logo
Oct 30 ’19 ・4 min read
I have been using Telegram Messenger for almost a year now. It has now become my personal preference for instant chat messaging. Telegram has it all which most other Messenger apps in the market have and more, that most other apps do not. I have a lot of reasons why I like Telegram as much as I do, and I’d like to share them. Read on to find out!
This is one the best features of Telegram. Telegram allows users to share multiple photos, docs and other file types (which are not so large in size) to be shared through its cloud based service without users having them to download in their device storage. So, you need not to worry about storage when sharing multiple small files and photos. Also, telegram provides unlimited cloud storage for all its users. This time you might not need a backup service to watch for your back!
Telegram provides seamless synchronization for its users. As mentioned earlier, all of the users’ messages from chats to files are all saved into telegram’s cloud. When logged in multiple devices for Telegram, all of the chats are updated and files appear for download. Telegram has its own desktop app which can work independently without your phone being in proximity or connected to the internet.
Groups (Public and Private)
This another big perk of Telegram services. Groups can as big as 200,000 members (public) or smaller (private). Public groups are completely transparent and can be searched for through Telegram or even search engines. Public groups also have their own customizable invite link(t.me/) which can be cited on websites or blogs for interested users to join. Public groups help user to chat with people globally sharing common interests or are there for a particular motive.
Private groups are more often used for people who know each other. Private groups are not transparent cannot be found using search. The powers which an admin in a telegram group can hold are far more interesting. Admins can have their own custom tiles (for example:the founder of this group). Admins while adding other admins can change these admins’ permissions of what they will be capable to do in the group. Admins can also change the permissions of not only what chat-members in a group can do as a whole but also change a member’s right individually. Moreover, they can bots which can only respond to them.
Members in a group can also be mentioned and replied and some messages can also be pinned for the extra attention of the users.
Bots are the most powerful tools Telegram has given to us. If you are programmer and good at using APIs, Telegram might have the perfect tool for you- Telegram API. Bots can:-
- welcome users in a group
- stop spams
- take anti-flood measures
- report statistics
- mark important messages
- fetch content (like news) from websites
- act a medium between two users when required
- and all other stuff you can think of! Truly, bots are handy when you are using Telegram for your business purposes or managing a large public group.
Private and normal text-chats have server-side encryption for securing users’ chats. If the user still does not feel satisfied, he/she can start a secret chat for more security as secret chats provide an added level of encryption – the client-side encryption. Anyone who can crack a Telegram secret chat conversation can win a prize of $300,000 in the Cracking Contest.
Gifs and Stickers
Telegram has an arsenal of official and user made stickers and animated stickers, and integration with Giphy for gifs which can be used without downloading. Users can access gifs and stickers from the stickers panel or search for gifs using @gif followed by the gif they are searching for. There are also a handful of stickers created by some Telegram users which can be downloaded by the users and sent in the chats. Users can also create their own gifs using loop feature in videos.
Telegram provides another feature besides the awesome groups it provides. Telegram channels are one-way communication chats which a user can join to get useful information about their interests. There are channels in Telegram which provide web series, movies and discount coupons for e-shopping. I joined some of the telegram channels and found them very useful.
Other Awesome Features
Besides the features I talked about above, there are a couple of other features there in Telegram too.
1. Telegram Chats can be archived.
2. Any useful channel or group can be searched for in the Telegram search bar.
3. Polls (for the silent members ) can be conducted to get everyone’s opinion.
4. Sent messages can be deleted by the sender as well as the receiver in private chats, and in groups messsages can be deleted by the sender and the admins, without leaving any trace.
5. Wallpapers look more amazing when you use them in Telegram with its animated features for wallpapers.
6. Phone number stays hidden and also you can deny to accept calls from any user using Telegram.
7. To save any message for future use, one can easily forward it to the saved messages chat in Telegram.
8. There are many different themes to choose from and later customized for using Telegram.
9. Any message in a chat can be searched for using the search bar in the chat.
10. Telegram has its own app lock making it unnecessary for third-party app locks to lock the application.
After all these features I have discussed, I find myself very attached to using Telegram. I just cannot imagine myself using another messaging application beside Telegram for chatting.
JUST LOVING TELEGRAM
Telegram tips and tricks for masterful messaging
17 min read 17 min
Seen as a more secure messenger app than WhatsApp, Telegram has a host of innovative and useful features that might not be as evident for everyone. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you make the most out of Telegram messenger.
Telegram Tips and Tricks
Pick a username
When setting up Telegram, you’ll have to enter your phone number and add your first name. If you don’t want to appear under your real name or phone number, or just want to be more creative and use a custom username, go into the Settings and tap on Username.
Claim custom username in Telegram
The only snag with using a custom username is that every username is only available once. Chances are if you’re going to pick a very common name or something of the sort, it’ll already be taken. There is a last alternative if you do really want to use that special username: you can get in touch with the support team. The prerequisite though is that you’ve been using this username on at least two other services as well. To get in touch with the Telegram support team, go into Settings and tap on Ask a question.
Turn off message preview
Lock screen notifications and message previews are normally super useful features, but sometimes you don’t want to let everyone close to your phone see who’s writing to you (and what they’re writing). To disable message preview in Telegram, go into Settings -> Notification and Sounds and turn off In-App Preview.
Custom notifications and LED colors
Not only can you set custom notifications in Telegram for your contacts, but you can also set custom LED notifications colors. Seeing as we’re talking about notification LEDs, you’ll need an Android smartphone to do this and it will need to have a notification LED for this to work.
Custom notifications can be set if you tap on Contact info, tap on Notifications, and then Customize. You’ll be presented with the options to change notifications, vibration patterns, sound, priority and LED color.
Turning off notifications for individual contacts
Speaking of notifications, ever wanted to (temporarily) mute a contact on Telegram who just sends too many messages? Just like setting up a custom notification, select your Contact, tap on Info then go to Notifications and tap Deactivate.
Reply from your home screen with pop-up notifications
While you might have just deactivated notifications for a spammy user, being able to reply directly from your home screen is super useful. You can enable home screen pop-up notifications when you go into Settings > Notifications and Sounds and then tap on Popup notifications.
Change your phone number on Telegram
While it doesn’t happen too often, you might end up changing your phone number somewhere along the line. Even though you are registered with your old phone number, you can easily swap out your old number with a new one. Just go into Settings and tap on Phone number.
Changing your number on Telegram is easy. / © AndroidPIT
How to block someone on Telegram
For one reason or another, you’ve got a contact in Telegram who’s getting on your nerves, or you can’t remember why you added them in the first place. Don’t stress – you can easily block people on Telegram. Just go into Contacts then tap on the contact > tap on the profile image > tap on the 3 dots icon in the upper right corner and hit Block.
Customizing chat background
Do you want to customize your Telegram experience? Bored of seeing the same old standard background? Well, it’s super easy to change the chat background in Telegram. Go into Settings > Chat Background and then pick one of the preset images or a photo out of your own gallery.
Manage media downloads in Telegram
Telegram allows you to send files up to the size of 1.5 GB. While that’s awesome, it can quickly fill up all the free space on your phone and eat up your data! The easiest way to control this is to configure how, when and what files you want Telegram to download. If you’re on the go, you might not want Telegram to download that massive video someone sent you. To control your data and media settings, go into Settings > Data and Storage and then tap on When using mobile data or When connected on Wi-Fi. Both settings will let you toggle which files you can download on the selected data settings.
Hide Telegram media from your gallery
Don’t want to see photos and videos that have been shared with you on Telegram in your photo gallery? Just go into Settings and toggle Save to gallery off.
Hide “Last seen” on Telegram
Don’t feel like sharing with others when you last used Telegram? Thankfully, you can customize the “Last seen” settings on Telegram. You can toggle who can and can’t see your “Last seen” and even add exceptions to your rules. To deactivate or customize “Last seen” on Telegram, go into Settings > Privacy and Security > Last seen.
Read messages secretly
Ever wanted to read a message without the sender seeing that you read it? Well, here’s a little trick. When you receive a message, turn on airplane mode. Open Telegram and read the message. Once you’ve read it, close the app and turn your data back on. The sender will never know that you read their message.
Self-destruct timer for images and secret chats
Similar to Snapchat, Telegram also has a feature where your chats or pictures will self destruct. Telegram decided to innovate a bit on this feature and lets you set self-destruct timer on your messages. This feature is currently only available in secret chats, but it’s easy to activate. Hit the 3 buttons in the top right corner and pick Set self-destruct timer. You’ll have the option between 1 second and 1 week.
This message will self-destruct in 3, 2, 1. / © AndroidPIT
There’s a similar self-destruct feature for images, which doesn’t have to be used in a secret chat. Just choose the photo you want to send from your gallery, then tap the clock icon to set the timer.
Lock your chats
One of the reasons why people like Telegram so much is because of its multiple built-in security features. One of them lets you lock your chats so if someone accesses your phone, they won’t be able to read your chat logs. To set a passcode, go into Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Passcode lock and then enter your 4 digit code. You can even choose to unlock the chats with your fingerprint. Now that you’ve set a passcode, you can click on the lock in the top right corner of your chats and lock the chat.
Directly reply to messages in group chats
If you’ve got a lot going on in a group chat, you’ve always got the option to directly reply to the message in the chat. Just long-press on the message and select reply.
Search your message history
Looking for that one message you sent months ago? Don’t feel like scrolling for hours just to find it again? Just use the built-in search function. Go into the chat where you sent the message, tap on the 3 dots in the top right corner and tap on Search. You can then enter the text or keyword that you’re looking for and Telegram will filter out the messages for you.
Like Twitter, Telegram also allows you to use the hashtag (#) to create virtual sections in which all messages relating to a subject are regrouped. To use this function, simply type # and write the theme to create a new hashtag, or select a pre-existing one from those that appear in the preview (right after you enter the #).
All hashtags are grouped into each user’s directory, so you can find them by doing a search within the conversation history.
Use Telegram on PC
Similar to WhatsApp you can use on Telegram on your PC, Mac and Linux computers. Rather than a web client, Telegram is available as a PC app, which you can easily download here: https://desktop.telegram.org/
Check active Telegram sessions
Telegram supports multiple device sessions, meaning that you can access your chats on multiple devices at the same time. Sometimes it’s useful to have an overview on which devices you’ve still got an active session going on. If you go into Settings -> Privacy and security > Active sessions, you can see where you’re currently logged in. If you want, you can log out and terminate certain sessions.
Animated stickers and GIFs
I am not talking here of simple emoji, but of real images that can be used to express the most diverse feelings, distinguished by the most elaborate graphics. Stickers are a kind of figures in drawings, which can be downloaded in complete packages with different themes or individually. You can even make your own with the @stickers bot, which will walk you through the process.
Stickers on Telegram / © AndroidPIT
Animated GIFs can be searched and sent between Telegram contacts through a directory within the app itself. So you do not have to search Google and send a still image to play with a contact, just attach an animated GIF provided by Telegram itself.
Change the theme and color
The Android Telegram mobile app received an update recently and, as the main thing, added support for themes. With the feature, the user can customize the app’s interface with one of the pre-configured themes or use creativity and create their own content. You can choose the color of each button, text, tab and background of the app screens.
For now, the novelty only works on smartphones with the Google operating system. However, the app developer said that Telegram for iPhone (iOS) version will be updated soon and will gain support for themes. It’s worth remembering that the tool is not yet available in the main competitor of the messenger, WhatsApp. Check out, in this tutorial, the step-by-step guide to changing the Telegram theme:
- Step 1. Open Telegram and touch the button located in the upper left corner of the screen. In the app menu, tap Settings.
- Step 2. In the app settings, tap “Theme”. Now just choose one of the themes listed – Blue or Dark.
- Step 3. If you want to create a custom theme, touch “Create New Theme”. Then enter a name for the theme and confirm with “OK”.
- Step 4. Tap on the drawing palette icon to the right of “Create New Theme” and choose the item you want to change the color of.
- Step 5. Now just choose the colors for each of the listed items and touch “Save”. Finally, select “Save theme.”
With this tip, you can customize the Telegram interface with one of the pre-configured themes or use creativity to create your own color combination.
Create custom masks
Telegram, one of the main rivals of WhatsApp, stands out for its set of image-editing tools. One of the funniest features to make mounts are the masks, which personalize with pictures or adornments the photos taken with the camera or stored in the gallery of the cell phone. Like stickers, you can also create a package with in-app masks.
Check out this tutorial on how the interaction works with bots or automated profiling and to create masks in the messenger.
Step 1. Telegram has an automatic profile to assist users in creating personalized stickers and masks. Search for “@Stickers” in the search for contacts and select the indicated result.
Step 2. The messenger will display a conversation with the “@Stickers” button. Press “Start” to activate it and check out the list with the basic commands to create your own stickers and masks.
Step 3. Then send the “/newmask” command to create a custom masking package and complete the operation choosing a name.
Step 4. Press the attachment button to send the pictures in “File” format. Note: Images must be in PNG format, have 512 x 512 pixels of resolution and be up to 350 KB in size. If the submission is accepted, the bot will send a message with four mask types to configure the image. Choose one of the options.
Step 5. The next step is the mask calibration. Orient the figure according to the previously chosen classification and press “Ready” to complete. Continue repeating these steps to send more prop figures to the created package.
Step 6. Finish creating the masquerade package by typing “/publish” in the message box. The auto profile will prompt you for a name to set the address for the new mask group.
Step 7. The bot will respond by displaying the publication and its link to the created masquerade package. Open it and click “Add masks” to download them to your Telegram image editing menu.
Step 8. The new masks will be available to be used in quick mounts within the messenger and can still be shared with your contacts.
Delete and/or self-destruct your Telegram account
Had enough of Telegram? Finally caved to WhatsApp? Or just ditching messaging apps in general? Telegram lets you easily nuke your account. Go into Settings -> Privacy and Security and then tap Account self-destructs. The only caveat here is that the self-destruct won’t happen instantly. You can select between 1 and 6 months. If you want to delete your Telegram account right away, you’ll need to go to the deactivation page: https://my.telegram.org/auth?to=deactivate and then enter your phone number.
Customize and edit images
You can customize the images you send back and forth with friends in several different ways on Telegram. You can draw on images, plus add stickers or text. There is also a small in-app image editor that comes with the ability to adjust the brightness, contrast, and other aspects of the image. It’s quite practical. Select an image or video to upload as you normally would, and click the edit icon to begin customizing.
Telegram has been using bots for some time, but now they are much more useful and easy to access. To activate and use a bot, simply enter @ and the name of the bot you want. Make a space and type in what you need. Some bots that can be used are: @gif (to search for GIFs), @vid (to search for videos), @imdb (to search for information about movies), @bing (general search), @wiki and @bold (text formatting). There are a ton more third-party bots, but with these, you can start playing.
Telegram Messenger review: 58 facts and highlights
Why is Telegram Messenger better than the average?
- Higher rating on Google Play
Which are the most popular comparisons?
Adverts can be distracting and obtrusive. Apps and blogs without ads are more aesthetically pleasing, nicer to use, and make the content stand out.
These services are ideal if you want to use the app while sat down at your computer, as well as on-the-go.
You can download the app for free, from platforms such as Google Play or the App Store.
It is compatible with a range of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets.
You can personalize the appearance of the app – for example, choosing a different theme or colors.
A smaller size means that the app will take up less space on your Apple device. This leaves more space for other apps, as well as other data such as photos and music.
The app has a higher rating on Google Play, showing the overall quality of the app and user satisfaction. The lowest score is 1, with 5 being the highest.
With more users it is likely that more people you know will use the app too.
The app has a higher rating on Apple’s App Store (rating from all versions), showing the overall quality of the app and user satisfaction. The lowest score is 1, with 5 being the highest.
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