It seems that some users of the popular WhatsApp Messenger have used the announcement of Facebook's acquisition of program and company to switch to another messenger application on their system.
One app that is mentioned quite often is Telegram, an application that is officially available for iOS and Android, and unofficially for a variety of other mobile and desktop operating systems including Windows Phone, or Windows, Mac and Linux desktop systems.
Telegram feels a lot like WhatsApp. It uses phone verifications during the account creation process, supports the sharing of photos, videos and documents, as well as group chats.
But, there are differences when you compare both clients. Telegram is entirely cloud-based using encryption -- strong according to the developers -- to protect user data.
Another interesting feature is the clients secret chats option. When you create a secret chat, Telegram uses end-to-end encryption to make sure that all message contents are protected from third-parties. Messages that are sent using the secret chat feature can be programmed to self-destruct, which removes them not only from the recipients system, but also the originating one.
It is also free and the developers have promised that users won't be charged a yearly subscription fee or see ads in the client.
Money, money, money
One question that should come up is how the makers of Telegram plan to support further development and the infrastructure that the cloud-based solution requires.
According to the Telegram FAQ, the messenger is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov who have created the VK social network.
What sets Telegram apart is that it has not been designed to grow quickly so that it can be sold for a profit, or so that user data can be mined and monetized. Instead, the intention was never to make a profit using the application, to sell it, or to allow outside investment
The only money-generating options the makers consider are donations or the addition of paid features that are non-essential, and those only when the support money that the project receives from Pavel runs out.
Telegram is an open source project, which means that the source code of the project is freely available. Not all of the source seems to have been released by the team right now.
According to information posted on the official website, the team focuses on open sourcing code that allows third-party developers to "build something using" the api.
The FAQ for the technically inclined goes into detail in regards to the protocol and technicalities. You find detailed information about the encryption and authentication used, and how the app protects itself against known attack types.
Accounts can be deleted at any time. If that happens, all user data including messages, contacts associated with an account and group associations are removed from the system.
This does not mean that all messages are gone though, as recipients will still have their copies of messages that the deleted user sent to them.
To avoid this, use secret chats exclusively.
Difference between secret chat and standard chat
All chats are encrypted, but secret chats use end-to-end encryption between two user devices, while regular chats use client to server to client encryption types instead.
This means that secret chats are not stored in the cloud.
Not everything is golden right now. The security needs to be audited for instance so that the claims the developers make are confirmed.
The client lacks a couple of features that WhatsApp supports, including the option to hide the last seen status in the messenger.
Switching to another messenger is not always an easy undertaking, considering that you need to convince your friends, family or contacts to do the same. It is likely that you will be running multiple apps for a period of time because of that.
What's your take on Telegram?
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