Telegram and Signal have seen a spike in downloads this week after Whatsapp announced updated terms and conditions that lets Facebook collect user data, if you agree to it.
I first downloaded Telegram in 2014, and I must say it was lonely there. Apart from using it to chat to very few contacts, I used to get notifications every other week from people in my address book who have joined.
This week those notifications have also spiked. You can use Telegram on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac and Linux. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share my top features about Telegram.
1. Last Seen and Online: This feature lets you toggle it to “nobody“, which is great because sometimes when you’re on Whatsapp to reply to something urgent, others would see you and assume you have time for a long chat. My worst. Additionally, the levels of privacy are granular. I also love that you can choose if your name will appear on a forwarded message or not.
2. Variety of themes: On iPhone, you can find this under Settings > Appearance and on Android it’s under Settings > Chat Settings. iPhone has four options: Classic, Day, Night and Tinted; whereas Android has five options: Classic, Day, Dark, Night and Arctic. Once you choose a theme, you can then set you own colours. I’ve noticed Android only has a setting to choose a chat list view that is two lines or three lines. You can also add your own background, etc.
3. Secret Chats: Telegram will let you create a ‘secret chat’ with anyone, and it supports end-to-end encryption, no trace on Telegram servers, has a self-destruct timer (from seconds, to days up to a week) and doesn’t support forwarding. It will also notify you if the person took a screenshot (however I could only take a screenshot on iPhone, not on Android, LOL)! This is best for discussing something top secret; only between you and another person, hence end-to-end encryption), it will only sit on your phones, nowhere else.
4. Usernames: You can set a public username if you don’t want to give out your number. This means anyone who knows what it is can message you. I see how it has both pros and cons, with the latter being that it opens you up to receiving spam or messages from randoms. I had one a long time ago and deleted it. But if you have a business or think it’s safe, go with it.
5. Multiple Profile Pics: I don’t know if this is important but you can have a carousel of profile pics for people to scroll through. I’ve just let my current older ones, they are most Animojis. But if you can’t decide on a favourite pic, just put up multiple.
6. Send without sound/schedule send: If you know someone is busy and want to send them a message but it’s not urgent, you can send it without using a sound notification. Or you can schedule send a message for later. I’ve lumped these two together because after you type your message, you tap the up arrow next to it and these options come up.
7. Saved Messages: You can save a bunch of important info, like links, documents, numbers etc under ‘saved messages’ which is then accessible on other devices. Like your PC/laptop, without saving it on the cloud or mailing it to yourself.
8. Proxy: If this is important to you for whatever reason, you can connect via a proxy server. But it’s also useful if you’re in a region that it is blocked but still want to use it. You can find it under Settings > Data and Storage > Proxy. It is in the same location on both iOS and Android.
9. Stickers: If you know me, you know this is going to appear on this list. I love emojis, Animojis and stickers. I’ve been waiting to use my Keanu Reeves sticker pack for years, haha! You can add a wide variety, think The Witcher, 90s gadgets, Freddy Kruger, Silver Age Batman, Great Minds, Velociraptor, The Virus, etc. You get the picture. Artist can add their stickers to the platform.
10. Folders: You can create folders and add chats, contacts, non-contacts, groups, channels or bots to it. If you use Telegram for business and personal, this is a great way to separate them and quickly access what you need to. I created Friends and Family folders, which is easy to access next to “All Chats” and filter important messages to see to first.
11. Automatically delete account: You can set your own time frame to automatically delete your account if its inactive. This can be found under Settings > Privacy and Security > Automatically delete my account. You can choose the away period between 1/3/6/12 months.
12. Terminate Sessions: If your phone gets stolen, you can go to Settings > Devices and see a list of all active sessions on your account and terminate them.
A lot of the basic features that you are used to on Whatsapp is still on Telegram that I’ve not touched on. I just think these are cool to know about as a new user.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ email@example.com