Telegram now lets users sign up without a phone number, but only if you pay using cryptocurrency
Telegram messenger finally lets you sign up for an account without a phone number. But you're probably not going to like the alternative.
Sign up for Telegram without a SIM Card
Normally, when a user wants to sign up for a Telegram account, they need to provide their phone number to the service. This is used to verify the user and also helps in discovery, as in, whoever has your number can find you on the instant messaging platform. There are 2 issues with this method that prevents some users from signing up. Some people may not want to share their personal number with any service, such people will definitely not want to be discovered by other users.
Telegram's answer to this problem is anonymous numbers. It is offering blockchain-powered anonymous numbers for purchase through the Fragment platform. Personally, I think this is a terrible idea, more on this at the end of this article.
Temporary QR Codes
Telegram users who do not have a username, and have chosen to hide their phone number from everyone, can share their contact information by generating a temporary QR code from the app. This prevents the recipient from viewing your phone number. Now, this is a proper privacy-friendly feature.
Auto-Delete All Chats
Telegram is adding a new way to manage self-destructing messages. Users can set a global auto-delete timer to automatically remove messages in all new chats. To enable this, head to the Settings > Privacy and Security page and select Auto Delete Messages. Now you can choose to auto-delete messages after a day, week, month or a custom time (from 1 day, and up to a year).
Small private groups can also use the feature, any member who has permission to change the group's name and picture can modify the auto-delete timer's settings.
New features for Topics in Groups
Telegram introduced Topics in Groups recently, which are essentially small chat rooms within large groups. At launch the feature supported groups with over 200 members, now it is available for groups with 100 members or more. The Topics section opens in a compact layout with a dual-pane mode, that places shortcuts to your other chats on the sidebar, allowing you to switch between topics quickly.
By default, Telegram creates a new topic called General. It contains all pre-topic messages in the group, which is sort of like the main discussion room. Users may pin up to 5 topics in a group, and topics themselves allow you to pin unlimited messages.
Tackling spam in groups
Telegram has a new option called Aggressive mode in groups that have over 200 members. Admins can enable this setting to let Telegram's automated spam filters handle spammers, and protect their members from spam messages.
The Recent Actions tab has an option to report false positives, to train the AI to detect spam properly.
Telegram for iOS now supports emoji search using keywords. For example, if you type words like happy, laugh, cat, the app will now display the relevant emoji as a result, tap on it to include it in the chat.
This feature has been available on Android for a long time. The latest update brings some additional interactive emojis across all platforms, which animate when click or tap on them in personal chats. These emojis are also available as reactions to messages for all users. Telegram Premium users get 10 new custom emoji packs for messages, reactions and status updates.
Detailed Storage Usage stats on Android
Telegram for Android has an improved storage usage page, similar to the one on iOS. It tells you the amount of space used by each chat, including the finer details like files, photos, music, and videos.
The Android app now supports opening Live Locations (that you may choose to share) in third-party map apps.
Images via Telegram
Thoughts about Telegram's anonymous numbers
I'm an avid user of Telegram, but I think that anonymous numbers are not a proper solution to the problem. Allowing people to sign up with usernames would have been a much better option. You can lose a phone number if you don't keep paying for it, but a username will always be yours. The payment method is another issue, the numbers are sold via auctions and sales on Fragment. And these are being sold for ridiculous amounts of cryptocurrency.
If you want to charge users for anonymous numbers, why not offer it at a standard price for everyone, and accept regular modes of payment like PayPal or Credit Cards, like Telegram Premium does? Relying on a blockchain for buying the numbers is an odd move, and it looks like they have done it to promote The Open Network (aka TON, formerly Telegram Open Network).Advertisement