What is Telegram and how different it is from other messaging apps?

Messaging apps have become our preferred way of communication, giving us the opportunity to connect with our friends anytime and anywhere. And while Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are generally the most famous of them all, in countries such as Russia, Brazil, Germany and Malaysia, it’s actually Telegram Messenger that is the #1 most popular social networking app in the iOS Apple Store, possibly because it claims to be the most secure of them all.

What is Telegram?

Telegram is an online messaging app that works just like popular messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This means that you can use it to send messages to your friends when connected to Wi-Fi or your mobile data, with video calls, group chats, and 20,000 stickers available.

Telegram is cloud-based and claims that it prioritises security and speed, making it a good alternative to other popular messaging apps. The service launched in 2013, and since then it has reached 700 million active monthly users.

Distinctive features

Founded by Russian Pavel Durov, who’s also behind Russia’s largest social network VKontakte (VK), Telegram claims to combine the speed of WhatsApp with Snapchat’s ephemerality. Like WhatsApp, Telegram has also the ability to show a friend’s status online and attach and share photos, videos, location, contacts, and documents.

Telegram’s distinctive feature is security. It claims that all its activities including chats, groups and media shared between participants, is encrypted. This means that they won’t be visible without being deciphered first. The app also lets you set self-destruct timers on messages and media that you share which can range from two seconds to one week through its built-in feature ‘Secret Chat’. It also offers end-to-end encryption, leaving no trace on Telegram’s servers.

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.

How to use it

Telegram can be used and installed just like other messaging apps. You can download it from Apple’s App Store or from Google’s Play Store – look for the paper airplane logo. After flipping through the welcome screen, you’ll be prompted to enter your phone number and then add your name and a picture. The next step is to find friends and start a chat.

The app can be used on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Telegram is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows NT, macOS and Linux.

Telegram Premium

In June 2022, Telegram Premium was introduced. This subscription offers users access to exclusive additional features, such as faster downloads, 4GB file uploads, voice-to-text transcription, more stickers and no more ads, a feature which previously made Telegram fall short compared to competitor WhatsApp. All existing features remained free for non-premium members.

Are you using Telegram, and do you have any questions about the app that you’d like addressed? Let us know in the comments below.