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It came, it won & its popular – WhatsApp messaging app did change the face of text messaging. Well, I know it was BBM doing so earlier, but, WhatsApp being multi-platform took away all the limelight from BBM, before & even after BlackBerry decided to release BBM for iOS & Android.

Then hit a storm of such multimedia enabled, powerful messaging apps, which too eventually almost killed the concept of conventional MMS messages. These include WeChat, Line, Telegram and plenty others.

 

The Telegram is relatively new but slowly getting widely installed all over the world – the prime most reason is – for most of the people, WhatsApp will probably charge a subscription based fee every year after free usage of first one year. The same is the case for iOS devices that started using it after WhatsApp decided to use subscription model last year instead of a paid app on iTunes. So, sometime now or later, we’ll need to pay the small amount of fee to WhatsApp – which is fair enough.

Some of you (including me) would like to have a free alternative which is equally good as WhatsApp & I find Telegram is a better option in that sense.

The telegram messaging app is a brainchild of Pavel & Nikolai Durov. They’re the founder of ‘VK’, the largest social networking website used in Europe.

Where WhatsApp is better than Telegram

The only minus about Telegram at the moment are:

  1. It’s lacking support for mobile platforms other than iOS & Android. Windows Phone, Symbian OS & BlackBerry are also equally important platforms without which, the users won’t be able to connect with each & every friend or a colleague. However, I am sure Telegram is developing their app for these platforms & soon will be made available.
  2. The UI is very much the same for both, the UX is more useful in WhatsApp. Messages forwarding, removal & shifting from group chat to one-to-one chat with only one of the group members is available in WhatsApp & are missing in the Telegram. This is no longer applicable. In fact, after Telegram’s comment below – I checked in the app & switching to single user is very easy than WhatsApp.
  3. We cannot (yet) disable ‘last seen’ timestamp or online status on Telegram yet.
  4. Limited languages are available as of now.
  5. Exporting conversation messages to email.

Telegram for Windows Phone does have a few unofficial builds. See below for more details.

Ten Reasons why I liked Telegram more than WhatsApp

1] Telegram’s ‘Always Free’ tag

The telegram is emphasizing on the fact that it will always stay free for life without display advertisements, without subscription charges or without spamming you with sponsored messages. They’re not looking at a revenue model at the moment & if the need for money arises (which it will), they would seek for voluntary donations or will add in-app purchases for fancier features like digital greetings or premium wallpapers etc. Which I think is fine as long as the basic messaging features are unpaid for.

2] Access Telegram from multiple devices

One of the key features of Telegram is, it offers access to text messaging from multiple devices like phones, tablets, Windows PC, Mac OSX, Linux or even through Google Chrome App. This means, you can start a conversation from one device & continue your participation on another device seamlessly; making it as good as iMessage for iOS or the new Hangout app from Google.

The syncing of messages is very smooth. Below are the screenshots of Telegram on a Windows PC showing an activation screen, messaging window.

Telegram on Windows activation

Telegram Messenger running on Windows 7

3] Telegram syncs with multiple platforms

To be able to fully support its above features, Telegram has several different official or unofficial apps in development for multiple platforms such as Webogram, Webogram Chrome App, TDesktop (Telegram for Windows), Messenger for Telegram for Mac & Telegram CLI for Linux. To use WhatsApp on Windows or Mac, we need to use BlueStacks Android Player, however, this is not the case for Telegram. They have their own separate clients for various platforms &, works very differently than just having an access to the messages.

4] Welcome notification to your phone contacts

Well, some of you might not like it – but it’s great. The very first thing I noticed about Telegram is that – I received a ‘Hello’ message from one of my friends as soon as my account was activated.

Telegram sends out notification to all of your phone contacts as soon as your first activate Telegram service. It only sends this notification about new activations only. I think that’s pretty cool & can be used to give a hand to the new users in case they’re wondering how it works.

Telegram sends welcome notification to contacts

5] Blazing fast speed in delivering messages

The second thing I noticed about Telegram is its blazingly fast speed for sending & receiving messages. I was taken by a surprise here. I noticed this when I was talking to the same friend during my welcome conversation. The telegram is claiming to do this by

The messages I received, the update on him ‘typing’ a message & the message deliveries were terribly fast. I did not see this happening neither on WhatsApp nor WeChat. It could be due to comparatively less message exchanges on Telegram but if they can continue to manage this speed – it’s simply amazing.

6] Highly encrypted “secret chat” messages

Another key feature of Telegram is its ‘Secret Chat’ function. Secret Chats only work by invitation to the other user(s) & if they accept your invite. Secret Chat in Telegram is highly encrypted for only the two people involved in the chat. This means, no third person will be able to decrypt these messages when in transit, including the ones at Telegram.

Messages exchanged during a Secret Chat are not stored on Telegram servers & do not allow forwarding these messages to anyone. Also, one can add a self-destruct timer to a message & once the message is seen by the recipient, it will vanish itself from the conversation, leaving no traces of it.

Secret Chat - Encrypted messages on Telegram

Secret Chat with self-destruct timer on Telegram

Why in the world would you do such a military-level conversation with a friend! I don’t know, but looks powerful enough for plenty, if you do.

PS: Telegram is also offering a $200,000 reward if any of your friends think s/he can take up the challenge & can decipher Telegram messages. If you happen to win, don’t forget to send me 20% for letting you know about it, deal?

7] Open Source code for developers

Telegram has open code to the developers so that they can build something around Telegram quickly using their API. They have released their API for Android, Linux & also some code for the iOS devices for developers to integrate. The telegram has given detailed guideline on important security checks for developing Telegram client application.

These will help getting improving Telegram integration in other apps or on to their cloud messaging feature – eventually benefiting the end-users some or the other way for making the shift.

8] On device support

Telegram support quick chat with their support team right from the device itself (in Telegram go to Settings — Ask a question), although, they may or may not respond to your query in real-time, but at least you’re sure about receipt of your query & the same support window also shows if when the support was online. The Telegram support team’s contact number is +333.

9] More capacity, most unlimited

The telegram is offering 200 members to be added in any group, whereas; WhatsApp has set a limit of up to 50 users per group. Telegram also offers an unlimited size of media attachments & unlimited chat messages. Both offer sharing photos, videos, location, documents etc.

Telegram also shows the number of online users in a Group conversation. This doesn’t show who exactly are online, however, it can surely spice-up most group conversations, or anything related to shorter deadlines such as a night out plans can be discussed in short time, when we know most people are online at the same time.

Update: Telegram also allows any group member to invite more people to join Group conversation. In WhatsApp, only the ‘Group Admin’ is allowed to add more people, which is sometimes very inconvenient & one needs to wait for the ‘Group Admin’ to check his WhatsApp & respond. The telegram has taken care of this problem. Good to see.

10] Clear of unwanted options

Well, not sure if everyone will agree, but WhatsApp does have a few options that aren’t really used by most of us. One of them is,  ‘Status’ messages. I suppose 70%+ users are still on the default message on WhatsApp that says, “Hey there! I am using WhatsApp.”

The second is, separate tabs for ‘Favorite’ contacts – the ones using WhatsApp – and another is ‘Contacts’ showing all the contacts from the phone. Telegram sorts both these contacts on one screen, separating them by showing the ones with the app on top of others who don’t. System status, Network status, is some of the others.

Download Links

For more detailed information, you can also visit their official website Telegram.Org (and not .Com)

Telegram may not be 100% ready for comparison with WhatsApp, some of us will still prefer staying on it just because the transition is just settling down.

But I think, Telegram is probably the only best free alternative to WhatsApp without having to think twice about its features & reliability; of course they have experience of running the most-used social networking website ‘VK’ in Europe.

rise-of-the-telegram

Update: Today’s biggest news is about Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion. While, the news is great for WhatsApp, it may not be good who’re highly concerned over its privacy policy, many people decided to not use Facebook because of the similar concerns. Will Facebook start serving ads on WhatsApp? How will they use our stored data? These are important questions. Looks like Facebook wanted to compete with VK.com (another major social network) that created Telegram. 🙂

Have you started using Telegram messenger app? What do you think of it? If you have any questions, suggestions or want to share unique feature that you liked about Telegram then; do write in the comments below.

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  • Telegram Messenger

    Thank you for this detailed review. ))

    As for missing features — this article is not quite correct in terms of UI comparison:
    – Tap and hold on a message to select as many as you like and forwarddelete.
    – Tap on a user’s picture in the group to switch to conversation with him.

    Exporting becomes less important when all your chats are available across all your devices, including desktops. You can just open Webogram, for example, and copy the text.

    • Thanks for commenting. I agree with it & after your comment, I checked it. To surprise, its even better than WhatsApp. Post is updated to reflect the same. 🙂

      Regarding exporting messages to email — I think long conversations, especially in a group are important in few cases. Exporting them to email in text format (without media) works best & I have used this feature of WhatsApp to take notes about our Tour & once for the Weekend meetup.

  • After success of telegram , they will also start subscription.

    Its very simple concept. first they put their money , get user base then monetize it, either put ads or subscription. there is no alternative because when userbase get huge , its very tough to support without any money or any big company came and give it just for fun but all moto is monetize.

    i think there is no sense of this. article

    • Telegram Messenger

      Telegram is not a commercial organization. We will NEVER have ads, subscriptions or charge for essential functions.

      • Wikipedia is the Biggest example for it. They are running World biggest open source project but If you read how they arrange the money [through donation] that is very less but still they are doing because the way they started was different but for project like this is only for money. So Whatsapp is doing well and hope will continue in future too.

        • Yeah, but donations are perfectly fine. Anyone can donate any amount of money for the LOVE of project and, for the efforts taken to sustain the same. I see nothing wrong in the model, because the project is still available for non-donors (for free).

          What’re you really trying to say?

        • just 2 year back , most of people were talking about Whatsapps is free , good ,bla bla but see now Whatsapp start subscription because they don’t want to publish ads.

          So i just want to say, someone is running this project , they have power to decide, currently they are saying I am free but when get the user base either use ads or subscription . That’s it.

        • WhatsApp never said its free for life. WhatsApp for Android was free to download & free to use for first year only. WhatsApp for iOS previously was a paid app; initially $0.99 (that’s when I bought) & then $1.99; before they decided to shift all platforms to subscription base. 🙂

          PS: I am not endorsing Telegram because of any monetary benefits, but only because of their plan of action & for keeping it (partially) open source.

      • Now whatsapp is free , no ads , no subscription

    • Thanks for visiting. No need to be so predictable about every company or the project.
      I am glad that Telegram commented about it.