Latest Telegram update blurs line between ordinary and super groups

Telegram is the king of messaging applications. The messenger app, which directly competes with WhatsApp as it essentially does the same things, just better, keeps on adding more and more features with every update.

Most of the features being added every now and then when the app is updated vary from the most useful little things to the most bizarre.

Groups

For instance, in the latest update, which started rolling out yesterday not just to the Android app but across all platforms, Telegram users can now create groups of up to 200,000 people.

That is twice the number that the app allowed previously and, by any means, the equivalent of many a decent urban centre in Kenya. One can comfortably add all the adults in one of my favourite towns, Malindi, into a Telegram group and continue with their daily life like nothing happened. Or Thika. Or Kitui. Or Machakos. I shudder to imagine the endless possibilities when this feature is fully exploited.

Given the headache that comes with managing groups – imagine if 60-people WhatsApp groups are such a pain in all the wrong places, what about those with over 100,000 people? – Telegram has also updated group management options. Group admins can now become better dictators restrict other members from posting certain type of content, like, say, GIFs, stickers or even photos or just turn the groups from being interactive into broadcast channels with one way communication.

In case the admins get overwhelmed while at it, they can assign any member of the group admin roles without risking loss of control – they get to decide who does what like the super admins that they are.

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In order to keep up with the increase in group sizes, Telegram is also removing the distinction between ordinary groups that comprise of a handful of people and their supersized counterparts that can accommodate an entire town. Previously, Telegram’s large groups were known as supergroups. Now, they’re just groups.

The other stuff

  • It gets boring waiting for whatever it is that someone has shared to finish downloading. More so when, like yours truly, you’ve turned off media auto-downloads. That is getting better since Telegram will now automatically download an “ultra-light” thumbnail to keep your eyes entertained while, depending on the strength of your network, works on getting you whatever it is that you are downloading (photos and videos only) quickly.
  • What happens when you delete something in a chat by mistake? Previously, nothing would happen. You’d have to tuck your tail between your legs, repost and live with the consequences. In a day and age where we can even “undo send” on email, surely it should be possible to restore chats. Henceforth, that will be happening on Telegram. Just make sure you undo your mistake within 5 seconds, though.
  • Users can now sort out their Telegram contacts either by name or their “last seen”. I’m curious, how do those who’ve opted to hide their last seen get sorted?
  • When setting up Telegram for the first time on the Android app, new users will be presented with the option to add their profile photo.
  • In case you like uniformity and want to see the same emoji that you see on Android on your desktop Telegram client, you can do so.
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