Telegram Review: Just Good

Shoot, another messaging app.

It’s a damn competitive market to play with. Almost every major player in the industry is trying to rule; Facebook, Microsoft, Google, you name it. And that leaves a pretty small space for minor player to compete. Some of them even failed miserably and decay over time — ahem, BlackBerry Messenger.

That doesn’t stop this particular company to keep powering it through. Introducing Telegram, a recently popular messaging service. It’s mainly designed to compete with WhatsApp. How do I know this? Well, they implicitly stated that in their FAQ page. So to keep things simple, let’s just compare this service with WhatsApp.

According to their page, the main difference between them and WhatsApp is the message archival location. Telegram stores messages in their server while WhatsApp stores messages in your device. This is both good and bad : though it’s more convenient, because your message can be seamlessly synced across devices, it will also make the service less secure — a single hacker breach on the server will blow everyone’s privacy.

To compensate with that, they use end-to-end encryption as a norm — unlike WhatsApp which is optional. So it’s not an insecure service after all. In fact, they promote security as one of their selling points. Aside from the encryption, they also include 2-step verification, self-destructing chat, and even a setting to self-destruct your account if you haven’t been online for a while.

The one thing that makes Telegram stands out even more is bots.

The industry thinks that bots is the way to go. Facebook is doing exactly the same thing, Google is building a pair of apps with Google Assistant integration, and Microsoft thinks that bots is our future method of interacting with computer. It’s a big deal, so how is it?

It’s… not ready. Majority of the bots I’ve encountered falls into the ‘just because we can’ category; almost none of them is useful. There’s a polling bot which helps a group vote for something — this is the most useful bot I found. There’s YouTube bot that lets me share a video without leaving the chat which is useful at the slightest. There’s Wiki bot that essentially does the same thing but for Wiki pages. There’s TechCrunch bot that curated me some news article though I found it spammy and inaccurate. And then there are command line game bots which instantly turn my phone into a bee hive.

Bots have potential. Maybe even great potential. But no, we’re not there yet.

Without a gun to my head, I would say it’s better than WhatsApp; bots aside, it’s sleeker and simpler. And as a messaging app in general, it’s a bliss. It is available in many devices, has a comprehensive message attachment, has a great group management tool, has GIFs (the most important!), and the list just goes on. Overall, it’s good. But here’s the thing : people are sick with too many social media — unless you’re that kind of person who constantly seeking for fame through all social fronts. It kinda defies the purpose of social media itself : instead of helping your social life by connecting you with your fragmented friends, it fragments your social life into different apps. And that is really the problem here : unless it’s so groundbreakingly good, I don’t think it’s worth it for people to switch services. Maybe eventually they will, but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Is it good? Absolutely. Is it worth it to switch over? I don’t think so.