Telegram, the social media application that allowed Zimbabweans to circumvent the internet shutdown has released an update with a number of new features. The raft of new and updated features includes: (takes a deep breath)
- Video profile feature
- Improvements to the photo editor
- Improved “people nearby”
- Mini thumbnails
- Chat filtering
- Group stats
- Increasing file size increased to 2 GB
- Extra goodies for Android users (redesigned music player and expandable tracklist)
- Multiple accounts on Desktop
- More Animated Stickers
Video profile, chat filtering, Group Stats, 2 GB file limit and multiple accounts on desktop are the ones that stood out, so let’s take a look at what they do.
Video profile feature
Telegram users can now replace their profile pictures with a short video. This is not very data conscious for some of us in the land of very expensive data and no bundle for Telegram, BUT, its really cool nonetheless.
Users can upload these like they can any other media and can choose the section of the video they want as their profile video. Telegram also say that you can add animated stickers to these profile videos and you can easily switch them around depending on the user’s preference.
Chat filtering for non-contacts
The “People Nearby” feature and the sometimes very large groups on Telegram usually mean that you may encounter a lot of chats from people who aren’t contacts. Some people can easily ignore this, some others on the other hand can’t.
Telegram users can now have those chats automatically filtered and muted. This function can be found in the Privacy and Security settings. If for whatever reason the user decides to interact with those chats they can be viewed in Archived Chats and can be unarchived.
Telegram as we all know, has some very large groups. Some of these groups are run by individuals and organizations that might find statistical data useful. In line with this the new update from Telegram adds Group Stats to groups with 500 members or more.
The data covers, the number of messages viewed, the number of posting members and can be scaled back through time to see compare engagement over various periods. This is something that would be very useful if it ever comes to WhatsApp especially in Zimbabwe where it’s the most commonly used messaging platform for individuals and businesses.
Analytical data in WhatsApp groups would go a help a great deal in assessing the levels of engagement with content, which conversations brought the most interaction and help keep track of groups in general.
Telegram have also reduced the minimum number for channels to get “channel stats” to 500 and say that they are working on rolling out group stats to admins from groups with 100 members in the near future.
File limit increased to 2 GB
Telegram has really been head and shoulders above WhatsApp in this respect. Since 2014 they have had the standard file size limit pegged at 1.5 GB and now they have upped that to 2 GB.
This I feel is something that was ahead of its time and that is very useful now. With organizations working remotely because of lockdowns and stay at home orders, messaging applications have become a necessity. This is however limited on WhatsApp, users will usually have to email or share links to media that could not be uploaded into a group chat.
The 16 MB file limit is very restrictive and I personally would rather access media in a conversation than go through a number of different apps or a web browser to do so. Returning to the conversation and giving feedback is a little disruptive (speaking just for myself here).
Multiple accounts coming to desktop
Users on desktop can now log in to 3 accounts from different phone numbers without logging out. Telegram also says:
“As always, this doesn’t require an active connection to your phone – all our apps are completely self-sufficient.”
Quite the ramp up from Telegram, and these new additions may, at the very least, tempt more people to try it out.