Telegram is an online chatting/instant messaging application that prioritises security and speed, making it a good alternative to its more popular competition. This free, simple and super-fast app supports group chats comprising up to 30,000 contacts, and offers generous multimedia assistance. The app can be used on multiple devices simultaneously, as the messages seamlessly sync across multiple phones, computers or tablets.
Telegram, unlike other messenger apps, is cloud-based with seamless sync. This means users can access their messages from different devices (as aforementioned) and also share an indefinite number of images, videos and other files (zip, doc, mp3, etc).
The app lets its users write to people who are in their contacts list and have Telegram installed. People can also be searched by their usernames. A user can have a public username so that other people would not have trouble finding the user.
Friends can be invited through SMS, or a download link could be sent through other messaging services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and email. Friends could be provided a t.me link if they don’t have the other friend’s contact number saved.
It’s definitely possible to hide ‘last seen’ time, but the user may also not be able to see other people’s ‘last seen’ time. However, approximate ‘last seen’ value would be visible as that helps confirm if the other person is using Telegram or is active on the platform.
A group can have a maximum of 30,000 members. Other salient features include the ability to edit or delete messages after sending, ‘instant search’ to find a message from a pool of messages, hashtags and mentions, pinned messages, etc.
Usernames are not mandatory on the platform, but they do help people find other users on Telegram without knowing phone numbers. Phone numbers do not necessarily become visible to people who know others' usernames. However, if that feature is something a user doesn’t fancy or need, a username need not be set.
Compared to most other messenger apps, Telegram is a lot more secure. This is thanks to the MTProto protocol based on algorithms that render security compatible with reliability and high-speed delivery on weak Internet connections. Most importantly, the work on making the app secure is an ongoing process.
A secret chat is for people wanting more secrecy than normal. All secret chat messages incorporate end-to-end encryption, meaning only the recipient and sender can read the messages, and not even Telegram. Secret chat messages cannot be forwarded and when a secret message is deleted on one device, the other end of the chat is told to delete the conversation too.
Officially, the app is available in English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Italian, Korean and Portuguese. The list of supported languages is gradually expanding, but people who don’t see their preferred languages supported yet need not wait for official support as there is external language pack support.