Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service that has been making rounds as a popular option for those who wish to keep their messages secure. Telegram boasts a collection of different features, but it’s best known for its ability to secure messages and media by encrypting them during transit; this prevents third-parties from snooping on messages easily. Let’s take a look at what Telegram can do and why you might want to use it.

Are you looking for the best way to communicate with friends, family, and coworkers? Check out our guide to the best text messaging apps for Android and iOS.

Telegram Messenger
Telegram Messenger LLP

Encryption and Secret Chats

Telegram’s stand out feature is its encryption scheme that keeps messages and media secure in transit. The scheme is known as MTProto and is based on 256-bit AES encryption, RSA encryption, and Diffie-Hellman key exchange. The result of this complicated and technical-sounding jargon? A messaging service that claims to keep your data safe.

Why do we say claims? When dealing with security, you always want to leave room for scrutiny, and a few cryptography experts have criticized the system. Overall, any level of encryption is better than none, but a level of discretion should always be observed with any online connected system, even Telegram.

Secret Chats are one of the service’s additional security features; it allows messages to be sent with client-to-client encryption. This setup means that, unlike regular messages, these secret messages can only be accessed from the device’s that initiated and accepted the chat. Additionally, Telegram notes that secret chats leave no trace on the company’s services and offer a self-destruct timer.

Telegram Messenger
Telegram Messenger LLP

Messages in the Cloud

Like most other modern-day messaging clients, Telegram lets you store your messages in the cloud; in this instance, Telegram provides the cloud. The transmission of any messages follows the company’s encryption protocol to remain secure. Additionally, sent messages can be edited up to 48 hours after they’ve been initially sent and can be deleted at any time. The Telegram Cloud also lets you send media files up to 1.5GB in size.

Telegram Bots

Bots were added to the Telegram service in 2015 and allowed third-party developers to create chatbots that can simulate conversations with real folks on Telegram. Programmed bots can respond to messages and accept payment information for transactions. Similar in nature to Facebook’s bots, Telegram bots can be used by businesses as an alternative method of customer service, as well as by any individual who has a bit of time to code. One item worth noting is that bots can potentially read all messages within a group if added, something to consider if you are attempting to keep your account secure.

Telegram Messenger
Telegram Messenger LLP

Telegram Channels

Are you looking to receive updates from someone? Telegram Channels may be able to help with this goal, as establishing a channel allows a user to send one-way messages to anyone subscribed. Channels are publicly available and should not be used for distributing secure content. Unlimited users can subscribe to a Channel, and anyone who joins will be able to see the entire message history.

Voice calls and video messages

You can place voice calls using Telegram, a feature built upon the company’s end-to-end encryption technology. Telegram has noted that it is attempting to improve its voice calling network with neural networks to learn the best technical parameters for calls made. Voice calls are currently available for use in most countries.

Telescope is Telegram’s video hosting platform. With it, you can upload videos to the service, with a time limit of 1 minute, and share the video with others, even those not utilizing the Telegram app. Telescope is not a real-time conversation platform and does not bring video calling to the platform, but instead an alternative method for sharing video content.

Telegram Messenger

Stickers, locations, and polls

People using Telegram can share stickers with friends as an alternative to traditional emojis, similar to Facebook Messenger and iMessage. By default, Telegram includes a sticker set with your download, but you can add-on additional sticker sets for customization. In addition to sharing stickers, you can also share your locations for a set time — this feature can be disabled at any time.

Specific versions of the Telegram app, including those available on Android, iOS, and desktop computers, can send polls. Customizable polls can be shared, customized with multiple answer options. The poll itself can be shared as anonymous or visible to all, depending on how private or public you wish to set the survey.

Telegram Messenger
Telegram Messenger LLP

Downloading Telegram

Due to Telegram’s open nature, you can select from several different Telegram apps for your platform. Some apps have been directly developed by Telegram Messenger LLP, while third-parties have crafted others. Variations of Telegram exist for iOS, Android, Windows PCs, MacOS, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Google Chrome, Linux, FreeBSD, Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish OS, and Emacs.

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