Privacy is arguably the hottest, most sensitive subject in technology today. With everyone from covert hackers to your own government being able to spy on you, privacy has become more of a luxury than a right. Enter Telegram, the new messaging app that aims to combat data collectors and let you communicate in secret. Designer Nikolai Durov wanted to “…build a means of communication that can’t be accessed by Russian Security Agencies”. His open-sourced MT-Proto protocol also allows third party developers to build Telegram clients of their own. This is in stark contract to other popular messengers like What’s App which prohibit outside developers and have a uniform client for all. Durov’s goal seems to be a little bit different as the company is set up as a non-profit and has no plans to ever charge customers or include ads.
Upon using Telegram I noticed that it is extremely fast. Messages send and deliver immediately and it looks very clean. Like Whats App, check marks let you know when your message has been delivered and read by the recipient. It has a minimal interface that is somewhat customizable by allowing you to change font and background images. There are essentially two ways to message on Telgeram, the standard format and “secret chat”. Standard is all cloud based (another interesting feature) and you are able to access and send messages from a variety of devices including desktops. Your typical media options are also there and the developers tell us there is no limit to how big media files can be. There’s also a group feature and Telegram accesses your contacts so anyone in your address book that downloads the app will show up. If privacy is more your thing, then you can opt for the “secret chat”. To me, this is what sets Telegram apart from the rest. Secret chats have end-to-end encryption and can be set to self-destruct (think snapchat). Further, secret chat leaves no traces on the company’s servers so you won’t leave behind any footprints. Durov is so confident in the app’s security that he has a running contest that awards $200,000 to anyone that can hack Telegram. Tech Crunch has also reported that Telegram has already given $100,000 to a developer who found a critical bug.
I love messaging apps and until now I’ve been using Kik almost exclusively. I think that’s about change with my discovery of Telegram. I love the privacy and encryption features, and the fact that I know Russian security forces are unable to hack my chats allows me to sleep better at night.