Telegram is a popular platform among users who are concerned about online privacy and security. Not everyone is aware of it but you should know how much data you are sharing with the common apps and how they are processing your data.
I have never synced my phone contacts with Instagram or Facebook app. But Instagram says “Your friend Bob is on Instagram as bob123.” This is the reason why I personally don’t prefer to install Facebook app on my mobile device.
Since the acquisition of Whatsapp by Facebook, there are many significant changes made to the application. Many rumours came out that Whatsapp is reading and analysing user’s messages to empower their ads platform. To overcome that thing they introduced an end to end encryption in messages and after adding voice and video calling features they implemented the same on both.
Big companies acquire smaller ones to minify the competition and for the obvious reason of getting the user base of those companies. Believe it or not, this guy is having access to all of the information that you share across the apps he owns.
This is not a paid promotion of Telegram (haven’t reached there yet). I’m just sharing my personal experience and opinions. Back in 2014, I tried Line Messenger to chat with my
friends girlfriend as they provided free mobile recharge for using their application on a weekly basis. Then I switched to Skype, and there was no way to delete chats in the mobile application back then. Then Wechat, the Chinese messenger, there were a lot of distractions on that platform, as random Angel Priya shows up in the name of nearby friends.
Then I tried Facebook Messenger because it offered text, video and audio calls. This was the day when I got scared about privacy. There was a picture of my hand that I sent to someone a few days back I deleted that conversation. Even after deleting the chat, clearing the app data the photo was still appearing the media of that conversation. It was some bug in the app and I reported that. The scary part was that they are keeping everything on their server and it can be exploited by anyone who can gain access.
Now, my concern was that this image was just my hand, it could be anything intimate, legal or intellectual that you don’t want to appear after removing the traces. My next trial platform was Telegram.
It was 2014 and this platform was still new and there were no users in my friend circle. This is what you need when you want to be alone with someone. No distractions, no stupid people to answer why I am online at 12 AM. Because that time Whatsapp had no feature to hide your last seen time.
I liked some features very much that were different from other platforms. So, what makes Telegram special?
1. Secret Chats: The platform promised “Telegram’s special secret chats use end-to-end encryption, leave no trace on our servers. On top of this, secret chats are not part of the Telegram cloud and can only be accessed on their devices of origin.” So, even if you are logged in to a different device or using their desktop application, you can’t access secret chats on other devices.
2. End to end encryption: Whatsapp introduced end-to-end encryption on April 5, 2016 and Telegram was having this feature since August 2013. Pretty much ahead of its time. In Whatsapp’s end to end encryption, you can access the chats using a desktop browser or their desktop application. But Telegram is truly end-to-end when you use the secret chat feature.
3. No screencasting: It’s kind of awkward when you are casting your mobile screen on a projector or a TV screen for gaming or playing some fun video and then a message appears on your notification bar. You can control that in other applications by tweaking some settings. But, Telegram doesn’t show any content on the screen when you accidentally or intentionally open up the application while casting.
4. No App previews: So, you just gave your phone to a friend and he can see your recent chats or a particular chat in the app preview. But in the case of Telegram messenger, it’s not done. A white screen appears in the app preview.
5. Self destruct timer: If you don’t want to leave traces of your chat, then Telegram is for you. You can set a timer from 1 second to 1 week as per your requirement. As Telegram doesn’t allow screenshots, I had to take a photo to show you how it works.
6. Hide phone number: Unlike Whatsapp and other platforms you can start a conversation with someone without providing your phone number. In case of Whatsapp, you first need to add the person in your contact list. It’s a bit irritating process sometimes. You can create a Telegram username and share just like your Skype ID. Additionally, it allows you to join groups without sharing your number. It’s good for educational and work purpose especially for female users, who don’t want to share their contact number in a group of 100 random people.
7. Voice calling: Just like Whatsapp, Telegram also provides voice calling feature with peer to peer encryption. In simplified words, no one else can hear or intercept your Telegram calls. The only drawback of Telegram is that it doesn’t have a video call feature till now.
8. No screenshots allowed: Your friend, girlfriend or family can get you in trouble by taking screenshots of your chats. It’s a really bad thing that people take screenshots to gather proofs that we had a conversation. In a secret chat, Telegram doesn’t allow screenshots and in normal chat for some users, it notifies the other user that a screenshot is captured. Isn’t it a good thing that you get to know about the intention of the other person?
9. Passcode/Fingerprint lock: Whatsapp introduced fingerprint unlock last year. But this was a feature of Telegram since early releases. Additionally, it allows you to set a 4 digit passcode to login along with the fingerprint option. I found it hard to unlock Whatsapp sometimes when having wet or dirty hands. A passcode simplifies the process while maintaining privacy. It even helps you unlock the app when you loose your primary finger.
10. Multi sessions: You can log in to different devices simultaneously at once. Unlike Whatsapp, every device is independent and you can always terminate all other sessions using your smartphone having the main login.
11. Account self-destruction: You can set an account destruction timer if you are away for a specific time. You can set it from 1 month to 1 year. So, if someone finds your old device and try to get something out of Telegram, your chats won’t be there and your account would be gone.
12. No need to sync contacts: You need to sync your contacts in order to use any of the messaging applications. But Telegram even works without it. It recommends you to add contacts but if you know the username of the other person, you can simply connect without sharing your contacts with Telegram.
13. In-app browser: Do you know when you open an external link provided on Facebook or Whatsapp, it tracks your path? Almost every tech company wants to track its user’s source. Using the in-app browser feature you don’t need to open an external browser, also it restricts link trackers. Not a good thing for tech giants.
14. Customise the application interface: You can customise the user interface as per your convenience. There’s a night mode to reduce strain on your eyes which automatically turns on when the light goes down. You just need to turn on that feature in settings. You can change the interface colours, text size and chat list view as per your requirements.
15. Animated stickers: Express yourself with animated stickers. New stickers are released in every few days. Whatsapp is yet to get this feature. My personal favourite is the heart sticker, it even vibrates on tap.
16. Hiding media from the gallery: Much needed setting for someone who loves privacy. Whatsapp media appears in the Photos app and in the gallery, sometimes it starts to sync with Google Photos and those annoying Good morning, Happy Monday images start to invade in your online space. To prevent this, Telegram has a default setting to not save the media on the device. In simple terms, the media stays in the Telegram environment and doesn’t show up until you save that manually. Or you can turn that on in the settings.
17. Share large files: As per Whatsapp’s official website, it has a space restriction of 16 Megabytes to upload a video which is equal about 90 seconds or three minutes of video. While on Telegram you can upload up-to 1.5GB of video data in a single file. Practically a complete movie. Isn’t it huge? People are using Telegram channels for pirating movies using this feature.
18. Channels and Groups: Telegram channels are popular these days. One can broadcast study notes to all his students without getting any message back, that’s the utility of a channel. While others are using this for sharing music and web series. It’s a good alternate for Torrent websites as you get just the content you want, without any additional files.
While you can add only 256 members to a Whatsapp group, Telegram allows up to 20,000 members in a single group. 20,000 is a bit more than 256 😉
19. Money Transactions: This feature is available in selected regions right now. Payment providers are handling and storing all sensitive information, like credit card details. Neither Telegram nor the bot developers have access to it. For the moment they support payments from more than 200 countries via the following payment providers:
They are adding more providers soon.
20. Bots: Last but not least. Telegram bots are micro applications that can serve many functions like sending the weather or useful news articles, schedule reminders, play tunes, create to-do lists, and so much more. Anyone can make his own bot.
So, this was a long post about why Telegram is better than Whatsapp in terms of features. However, everyone has its own use-case for technology. Whatsapp is a standard application and they have their own reasons for keeping the limited features.