Text messages are almost ancient now that the instant messaging revolution is at its peak. What started with a handful of Apps (I still remember IM+ on my Symbian-operated Nokia N73) has now become a data and marketing goldmine worth billions.
With all the Instant Messaging apps sprouting left and right, users are left to navigate the waters, try different apps and see whatever suits them. Even WhatsApp is kind of a staple now, and we have niche specific apps like Snapchat and Avocado, the latter focusing mainly on long-distance relationships.
However, I recently came across an IM app which (not to sound like I am being paid by these guys) is incredible to say the least. Telegram, a name which kind of stuck with me from the start, has been an app that I have truly enjoyed using over the past 30 days, mainly to communicate with my fiancée as I’ve been away on business.
So today, I am going to write down my experience using this amazing messaging app (available for both Android and iOS) which I believe needs more exposure and user uptake as a very secure WhatsApp alternative that does a lot of things better than the IM giant.
Starting off, there are a few major pull factors Telegram has going for itself, the main (for me) being that the app is open source, utilises the cloud, and the developers have vouched not to ever charge for the service.
The guys at Telegram define the app quite well, “Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it’s super-fast, simple and free. You can use Telegram on all your devices at the same time — your messages sync seamlessly across any number of your phones, tablets or computers”.
Apart from utilizing the cloud, the app also lets you send all sorts of files, images and videos along with allowing you to create groups with up to 1,000 people and broadcast messages.
As for my personal experience, installing the app was a breeze (I got it on iOS while she installed it on her Android phone) and setting it up was simple – you enter your phone number, get a code SMS and you’re set to go.
To be honest, it did work a lot like WhatsApp and I couldn’t help but think isn’t this just like WhatsApp? But that was when I hadn’t even used the app for an hour. Soon I realized that Telegram was much better, in my opinion of course, than Whats-that-app?
Sending and receiving messages was fast and reliable, although I did face some connectivity issues in the start for a few days, but that might have been my internet messing up. Regardless, sending images is fast as well and you get the standard read receipts. However, unlike Whatsapp, you don’t get delivery receipts for your messages.
I knew WhatsApp had a web version which was convenient if you want to chat from your computer, but the Telegram desktop client is definitely a step up and above. Once you get the desktop version you realize the utility of cloud-based messaging. As soon as you log in, you can get all your messages and pictures available to you on your desktop and phone. This means, not only can you put Telegram on all your devices, you can chat seamlessly from any one of them as they are all updated in real time.
Another great thing was that the desktop app alerts me of new messages and if I don’t respond, a while later my phone also beeps. However, if I view a message on the desktop client, the notification does not appear on my phone. I found this handling of notifications convenient and smart (the same was pleasantly also the case while using the Apple Watch, which btw supports Telegram).
Moreover, Telegram has the fun timed messages feature for Mission Impossible style “this message will self destruct in 5 seconds” fun. While I don’t really exchange top secret WMD codes with my fiancée (not on texts anyway), it’s a fun feature to have.
The same is the case with secret chats, which are encrypted end-to-end for top secret conversations (I am sure a lot of people appreciate the privacy and security that mainstream IM apps lack). Finally, Telegram also has some of the most adorable stickers and also lets you send voice messages and your location.
Security features are also impressive on Telegram, allowing you to set a basic pin-code for accessing the app or choosing Touch ID on iOS. You can also block unwanted contacts, regulate your last seen status, activate two-step verification and monitor active sessions across devices.
There isn’t much in the way of customization though, apart from basic options like changing the chat window background and notification sounds. However, the app interface itself is sleek and focuses on what matters most – the communication.
All in all, Telegram is an amazing Instant Messaging app for any platform, Android, iOS or WP, and I personally recommend it to anyone looking for a fast, reliable, secure and private messaging client for mobile, desktop or tablet use.
While its a little difficult to completely replace WhatsApp because of its sheer market penetration, I find Telegram to be a much better app to communicate with people in my inner circle.
If you haven’t tried Telegram as yet, you should download it via the Play Store or the App Store below. In case you already use it, please comment below to share your experience.