Every other time there’s an announcement about a feature that is rolling out to Facebook-owned WhatsApp, there’s always bound to be that one person who spoils the party for the over a billion people that use the messaging app by pointing out that such a feature has existed for eons on one of its many competitors, Telegram.
Telegram, which shot to fame when WhatsApp was acquired by big money Facebook and, subsequently, started experiencing large scale downtime, has capitalized on the shortcomings of its more popular rival and it keeps growing every other year. Now, it’s great to know that the Telegram bandwagon boasts of at least 200 million people. That’s not a groundbreaking figure when compared to WhatsApp or Messenger’s insane numbers but it’s a significant milestone for an application that has previously been battered for being the preferred means of communication for some of the world’s most undesirable elements like the terrorist and radical Islam groups that dot most warring Middle East nations.
If Telegram were a country, it would have been the sixth largest country in the world.
In announcement on its official blog, the Telegram team notes that the 200 million figure means that, “If Telegram were a country, it would have been the sixth largest country in the world.”
It goes on to note that the messaging app has seen such tremendous growth without selling advertising and user data, a soft jibe at WhatsApp which has revealed plans to monetize over the last two years and whose parent company, Facebook, is currently embroiled in a fight for its life after it emerged that it had allowed third-parties to access sensitive user data which eventually ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based company accused of using big data and analytics to target voters and spread propaganda in several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Kenya.
In addition to the milestone, Telegram has also updated the Android app (version 4.8.5) to make it easy to discover new stickers. Previously, the only way I have come across new stickers on the app is when someone used a sticker set I did not have in a chat and as a result of clicking on the sticker, I was presented with an option to add it to my collection. That or being in a channel where sticker sets are shared. Now, when chatting, keying in an emoji will result in not just stickers from sets you have already added to your collection being suggested but also relevant ones from sets you may not necessarily know or have in your collection. Good stuff.
Part of the things that make Telegram standout from the crowded messaging apps market include support for large group chats (super groups), the availability of channels where brands can spread messages in a one-to-many scenario (one-way communication), user-created stickers among others. Telegram was also one of the very first messaging apps to make a move towards embracing bots and making them mainstream before the likes of Facebook caught on in 2016. Disappearing messages, a feature that is mainly associated with specialist privacy-focused messaging apps and not more popular ones like Telegram, have also been available on the app.
Check out Telegram on the Google Play Store