I have recently installed a new App on my telephone (mobile), tablet and computer. This app is very similar to the well known WhatsApp but it has several advantages as far as I am concerned. It is called Telegram.
For those who are not familiar with WhatsApp and Telegram they are very convenient instant messaging services that many find more convenient than the universal SMS system for smartphones. These days most people have plans that include more SMSs than they can use but with an SMS you can’t send photos (unless you use an MMS, and that usually costs) and the length of an SMS is limited.
Both Telegram and WhatsApp combine the convenience of an SMS and an email in one application. The only small inconvenience is that you do require an internet data connection. Provided your mobile plan includes sufficient data allowance you don’t have to pay anything. Until you delete them the messages to and from any person remain, just like SMSs in a smart phone, in a list under that contact. Both Telegram and WhatsApp use you telephone directory to connect you to any other user who also has the application installed.
So what is the difference between Telegram and WhatsApp?
WhatsApp was one of the first applications of this type and was made available to everyone to try free of charge for the first year, after that there is a very small and reasonable charge to renew the service. WhatsApp is fairly well known and has many more users that other systems (except perhaps Line, which is more common in Asia). For me there are two problems with WhatsApp: firstly I can not run the same account on more than one device, there is a web interface for PCs but it requires the phone to be connected to the internet for synchronisation. I have tried the web interface and it does not seem particularly good. WhatsApp security also seems a bit patchy for anyone who really needs secure messages. Finally WhatsApp has been purchased for US$19 billion by Facebook. This effectively means I have given my contact details to Facebook: something I never wanted to do.
According to Wikipedia
“The acquisition caused a considerable number of users to move, or try out other message services as well. Telegram claimed to have seen 8 million additional downloads of its app. Line claimed to have seen 2 million new users for its service.”
I am one of those users. I can only think that Facebook is looking to future advertising revenue as it will take a long time for the 900 million current users to repay such an enormous investment.
For WhatsApp see http://www.whatsapp.com/ or your telephone apps store.
Telegram is a relatively new player that is rapidly gaining ground. Based on the most recent information that I could find Telegram has about 80 million monthly active users, about 10% of the WhatsApp number of users. By and large it works in a similar way to WhatsApp but it has three major advantages. Firstly it is a completely independent non profit foundation and the app is entirely free. Secondly it is available on Windows. Linux, and Mac as well as all smartphone systems. The messages are stored on a cloud server which means that synchronisation is not needed, the messages are available to be seen by all your devices, smartphone, tablet or PC at any time, for me this is the most interesting feature (Note: you still need data connection). Thirdly telegram uses very high level security so confidential messages remain confidential.
There is also another interesting feature which allows people to contact a user using a link provided by the user https://telegram.me/username (username is a name registered by the user for this purpose). They would still have to register using a phone number, they can choose the web interface or the app, but they would have no need to know the other user’s phone number. I can give my username to people who do not have my phone number and if there is an urgent message to send me I will get it wherever I am as long as I have a data connection.
If an even higher level of security is needed Telegram has a feature called secret chat (not currently available on PCs) which uses client-to-client encryption and messages are not stored on the cloud therefore you can not see these messages on other devices. Secret chat messages are destroyed on both users’ device if deleted by one user and there are several other provisions available.
For Telegram https://telegram.org/ or your telephone app store.