What Is the Telegram App?

The little app that's taking on WhatsApp and Line

Two men and a woman using Telegram on their iPhones and iPad in a park with cherry blossoms
Telegram has official apps for iPhone and iPad.  Eva-Katalin / E+

Telegram is a popular messaging service similar to WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat. Its apps connect to a user's mobile phone number to create an account and contacts are automatically imported from the smartphone's address book.

Telegram was created by Pavel and Nikolai Durov in August, 2013 and has official apps on all major smartphone and computer platforms. Over 100 million people use Telegram worldwide.

What Can I Use Telegram For?

Telegram is primarily a private messaging app used for sending direct messages between individuals. The official Telegram apps can also be used for small or large group conversations with up to 100,000 users being allowed in a group at any one time. In addition to text messages, Telegram users can also send photos, videos, music, zip files, Microsoft Word documents, and other files that are under 1.5 GB in size.

Telegram users can create Telegram Channels which act as social media accounts that anyone can follow. The creator of a Telegram Channel can post anything to it while those that choose to follow it will receive each update as a new message in their Telegram app.

Voice calls are also available on Telegram.

Who Uses Telegram?

Telegram has over 62 million users and averages hundreds of thousands of new signups every day. The Telegram service is available in most major regions around the globe and is usable in 13 languages.

While Telegram is available on all major smartphones and computers, the majority of its users (85%) appear to be using an Android smartphone or tablet.

Why Is Telegram Popular?

One of the main appeals of Telegram is its independence from major corporations. Many people can feel suspicious of big companies collecting data on users and spying on their conversations so Telegram, which is still run by its original creators and makes no money whatsoever, appears a safer alternative.

When Facebook purchased the WhatsApp messaging app in 2014, the Telegram app was downloaded over 8 million times during the days that followed.

Where Can I Download the Telegram App?

Official Telegram apps are available to download for iPhone and iPad, Android smartphones and tablets, Windows phones, Windows 10 PCs, Macs, and computers running Linux.

How to Make a Telegram Channel

Telegram Channels are a place to post messages and media publically. Anyone can subscribe to a channel and there is no limit to the number of subscribers a channel can have. They're kind of like a news feed or a blog that sends new posts directly to the subscriber.

Here's how to create a new Telegram Channel in a Telegram app.

  1. Open your Telegram app and press on the + or New chat button.
  2. A list of your contacts will appear under the options, New Group, New Secret Chat, and New Channel. Press New Channel.
  3. You should be taken to a new screen where you can add a profile picture, name, and description for your new Telegram Channel. Click on the blank circle to choose an image for your channel's profile picture and fill in the name and description fields. The description is optional however it's recommended as it will help other Telegram users find your channel in search. Once you're finished, click on the arrow button to proceed.
  4. The next screen will give you the option of making it a public or private Telegram Channel. Public channels can be found by anyone searching on a Telegram app while private channels are unlisted in the search and can only be accessed by a unique web link that the owner can share. Private Telegram channels can be good for clubs or organizations while public ones are used to broadcast news and build an audience. Select your preference.
  5. Also on this screen is a field where you can create the custom website address for your channel. This can be used for sharing your channel on social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Vero. Once you've chosen your custom URL, press the arrow key once again to create your channel.

Is There a Telegram Cryptocurrency?

There is a Telegram cryptocurrency planned for launch in late-2018, early-2019. The cryptocoin unit will be called, Gram, and it will be powered by Telegram's own blockchain, the Telegram Open Network (TON).

TON will be used to enable fund transfers between Telegram app users and will also allow for the selling of products and services. Unlike Bitcoin, which is powered by proof-of-work mining, the TON blockchain will rely on proof-of-stake, a method of mining that is backed by holding cryptocurrency (in this case, Gram) on computers rather than relying on expensive mining rigs.

Gram will be listed on all major cryptocurrency exchanges and is expected to create quite a stir in the crypto community as its launch will essentially turn all 100 million plus Telegram users into cryptocurrency holders.

What is Telegram X?

Telegram X is an official Telegram experiment that is aiming to completely redevelop the Telegram apps from the ground up with more efficient and faster coding. Interested users can try the Telegram X apps on iOS and Android devices.