Telegram - Feature rich messaging

Gone are the days of Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and ICQ. In today's time, the cross-platform support is the most important ingredient for a successful application. The same holds true for the messaging applications as well with additions like video and voice calling over the Internet as a bonus. The era which was kickstarted by WhatsApp, the first cross-platform messenger. It is also by far the most popular and widely used application.

The cross-platform trend was soon copied and followed by other messaging applications. There are multiple messaging applications on each app market. These applications are loaded with wide variety of features. To make these apps widely available, these works on multiple form of devices ranging from smartphones, tablets, smart wearables - Google Glass and watches, and even on desktop operating systems - Windows, Mac, and Linux etc...

Telegram is one such messaging application that stands out for its cross-platform support and bunch of unique features. Telegram is both young and most frequently updated with new features on all the platforms. These two reasons give Telegram a substantial edge over the other messaging applications.

To download Telegram for your devices, visit website https://telegram.org/apps. Choose your device platform from the wide range available and you'd be taken to the specific application store. If accessed via the computer/laptop the download would start instantly for Windows, and Mac.

Features

Telegram, kickstarted with basic features and went on to add more of these under its hood. Some of these are still missing from the most popular messenger application - WhatsApp. To start off, Telegram, works on Multiple-devices. This allows setting up the single account on two or more devices. As a benefit, you don't need to reach for your specific device to initiate or reply to the chat messages. This feature is currently not available in the market leader of messenger applications - WhatsApp.

WhatsApp made it big with media when it recently started the Web client support. Telegram has offered two choices for access to the computers for full-size keyboard support way longer than WhatsApp too. This is also helpful during situations when your phone is left for charging at your work desk while you are working on your laptop. You may download the desktop version of the application from - https://desktop.telegram.org/. It currently supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (both 32bit and 64bit).

The Web Client option available for access via http://web.telegram.org requires no installation like the desktop application and works with latest browsers.

Telegram is a Cloud based messenger, like the Google's very own Hangouts. This ensures your chats are always in sync as they are stored in the cloud rather than the local device memory. So when you setup a new device with your account, all your previous chats are automatically loaded on this device as well. Telegram works on smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, Android, iOS, Windows phone, web-client, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Telegram works on all platforms except Blackberry. Being cloud based, also enables it to support sharing of media like - photos, videos and audio to any other messenger. Where this shines bright among the others is by allowing to share any file (doc, zip, mp3, etc) of up to 1.5 GB, making it more versatile.

While Group chat feature is available on most of the messengers, Telegram makes it easy for the new members to catch up with the conversation and not step into an unknown one. The admin of the group decides how many previous conversations the new member can view. Sometimes the groups can be really large, Telegram supports up to 200 members.
To have One-2-One conversations in Telegram is easy. Use the @username, which notifies the other person of the reply to their message, even if they have muted the group.
Use the @Username to mention people directly, if you want them to instantly get involved in the conversation during a group chat.
Another new way of bringing structure to group chats is by using hashtags. Any word starting with a “#” will be clickable. Tap on a hashtag to get instant search results from your Telegram messages.

Emojis have been around for as long as I recall my faint memories of ICQ, Yahoo Messengers, and Google Talk. Stickers are like the next generation of emoji. Stickers help deliver the emotions of thousand words via creative cartoon of people in real life or fictitious characters. Telegram delivers a very short and sweet bouquet of stickers currently, and it is growing.

(See the official blog posts for more stickers at - https://telegram.org/blog/stickers-meet-art-and-history and https://telegram.org/blog/moar-stickers)

The messenger applications are becoming more integral part of our daily lives, and along comes media. Users today use these messengers applications for the media sharing, like - photos, audio, and video. As per statistics from Telegram - "Each day Telegram users share 35 million photos, and this number is growing by the hour. For comparison, Instagram users shared 70 million photos daily in December. "

Telegram gives you the liberty of making the choice to listing your shared media in the Gallery or a Photo application. In case you choose to hide your media files, these are accessible only by visiting the particular chat and then the media option.
To enhance the experience of users sharing photos, Telegram has integrated a Photo Editor in the messenger application.
The Photo Editor can crop, rotate and auto-enhance photos before sending them. On top of that, you can use Photoshop-class granular controls for brightness, contrast, warmth, saturation, highlights, sharpening, blurring and more. The auto-enhance tool helps improve photos in a snap.

Telegram to my understanding and using of various other applications like Hike Messenger, Viber, Line, and WhatsApp etc, offers quite a handful of security features when compared to others. It enables users to carry out a Mission Impossible style Secret Chat. A secret chat can only be read by the recipient. This also ensures the recipient also does not get the message displayed in the notification bar. No message can be forwarded from the secret chat. On deletion of a secret chat from one side, it gets deleted on the other side too, for security reasons.

Other security option includes a Self-destruct timer. As the name suggests, the moment a message is displayed on the recipient's screen (two green checks), a timer is activated and this message disappears on completion of the set time interval from both the devices. This works for photos as well. Telegram also notifies both parties whenever a screenshot is taken.

Telegram, also allows securing access to the application on the device via Passcode and for account level security support Two-step verification. Two-step verification once enabled, requires users to enter a password to the account along with a One Time Password (generated on the fly and sent to the user via SMS on the registered mobile number) much the banks these days.

How to setup Telegram

Single device Setup

Telegram on one device first, to began.

  1. To begin, download and install Telegram from the application store on your device or from the official link provided at the start of this post.
  2. Launch the Telegram app after installing it, you will see the window showing Start Messaging button. Tap the Start Messaging button.
  3. Select your Country, Country Code and enter your Mobile number (primary number)
  4. Telegram, will send you a verification code, to valid your mobile number. It should automatically detect the code when received, else manually enter it and proceed.
  5. Create your profile by typing your name and adding a profile picture.
  6. Telegram, adds people from your contacts list who are already using it and you may begin to socialise with your friends and family

Multiple devices

Once you are setup on your primary device, you may add the same account to multiple devices. Since Telegram uses both your mobile number and user name for authentication, it's really simple.

  1. To start, ensure that you have downloaded and installed Telegram on your device (of course this is the first step)
  2. Launch Telegram and tap the Start Messaging button
  3. Select your Country, Country Code and enter your Primary Mobile number (ensure your primary device is handy)
  4. Telegram, will send the verification code to your Primary mobile number. Enter this code on your new device(s)
  5. It'll load all your general Chat on the new device.
  6. From now on, whenever you get a message on Telegram, it'll be accessible on all your device running via the same account. You never have to miss your Telegrams, be connected with the device available nearest to you.

Desktop application & Web-Client

Accessing and reply to Telegram messages from a desktop is as simple as adding multiple devices. Just download the desktop application from the http://desktop.telegram.org/. Launch the application and follow the setup process for Multiple devices.
Similarly, open your web browser and visit http://web.telegram.org and follow the account setup process. This gives you instant access to your Telegram messages without downloading any application.

Competition & Limitation

In today's time of smart devices, applications in each category have very tough competition. This is also good for consumers, as it leads to more innovation and additional features by the developers.

Telegram, is one application which has set the benchmark for the other messenger applications in the market. It offers great feature and option, which apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and even legacy apps like BBM (Blackberry Messenger) does not offer.

Here is a quick feature run through of the popular cross-platform messenger applications.

Most of the messenger applications have recently started transforming towards voice and video calling. The place which was ruled by Skype until recently. This is one feature where Telegram is behind in the race. It even lost here from the new and refreshed Facebook Messenger.

Conclusion

Telegram, has been improving over time when I first started using it over 6 months back. I keep pushing all my friends and family to move over from the most popular app WhatsApp since their known contacts are also stuck with the same. I will continue to push people to use Telegram, which is both feature rich and secure at the same time.

Hope to see you on Telegram!

Sign off!!!