TECHNOLOGY

Telegram registers 400 million users, sets sights on secure video calls

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Telegram’s monthly active userbase has now skyrocketed to 400 million, the company says.

It’s just the other day that the company was reporting registering 200 million monthly active users.

A year ago, that number had risen to 300 million.

While these numbers pale in comparison to rival WhatsApp’s massive 2 billion userbase that it reported at the start of the year, it shows meaningful progress for a product that barely stood a chance a few years ago.

The growth, according to the company, is not accidental.

Telegram’s unique feature set, which has endeared it to users throughout the 7 years of its existence, continues being the biggest draw. In fact, if anything, its main competitor’s idea of feature improvements is introducing what Telegram Messenger users have enjoyed for years.

“Every day at least 1.5 million new users sign up for Telegram. Features like folders, cloud storage and desktop support make Telegram ideal for remote work and study during the quarantine. It’s no wonder Telegram is the #1 most downloaded social media application in over 20 countries,” a blog post published by the company announcing the milestone notes in part.

It is not very hard to see why that is so. We covered lots of such feature updates in 2019. In 2020, there have even been more and we are just in April.

On the very first day of 2020, Telegram announced several new features including a “send when online” feature that delays sending of a message until a user is online so that it is delivered instantly, support for audiobooks and podcasts (the media player gets to remember where you were last time just like a podcast app or audiobook player would), better venue sharing, a handy night mode flick switch among others.

Since then, updates to the app have come with even more features meant to make the whole product better. Later in January, another update improved its popular polls feature by adding the ability to see who voted for what in a poll. It also introduced a new feature that it is improving today: quizzes.

February came and version 5.15 of the app landed with an update to the WeChat-like “People Nearby” feature, a faster way to view shared media and profile pictures (it was on Valentines Day so…) among other updates.

Last month saw some of the app’s most exciting features roll out. If you run a platform like Android Kenya like yours truly does and have a channel then you can now access very detailed statistics about your audience and the content you share on that channel. The only catch? The channel needs to have at least 1,000 subscribers (shameless plug: help us get there by subscribing to our channel! We are 100 subscribers shy of the mark). The other major feature that came with the update in version 6 was Chat Folders which allows users to organize their chats as they wish. The expansion of the pinned chats feature to let users pin as many conversations as they would like (previously capped at just 5) did it for me.

Now, with most parts of the world still under some form of lockdown that restricts movement and “normal life” in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, video-calling apps and services have been all the rage over the last 2 months as people work, school and connect with friends and family online. Telegram, which has offered video chats for long, has been one of those apps that people have turned to. For those that have stopped short of using Telegram for their video calls for fear of their own security, it is promising secure video calls soon.

“There are (video) apps that are either secure or usable, but not both. We’d like to fix that…”







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