If I remember correctly I was first introduced to WhatsApp as early as 2012 by one of my IRL friend. It was the thing which was “in” at the time. But it wasn’t that well known. Adoption of WhatsApp spread like wildfire since then, and now in 2018, it’s like everyone who have a smartphone have WhatsApp on their phone. Heck, even the non smartphone, like Symbian have a WhatsApp client now. What started of as a small project in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo, in Mountain View, California, soon grew to be a company worthy to be acquired by the Facebook giant in 2014. The acquisition took just US $19 billion out of Facebook’s pockets, but Zuckerberg knew it was a bargain.
The USP of WhatsApp was it’s simplicity and ad free experience. The founders promised that it will remain ad free for eternity but never promised anything about simplicity. After being bought by Facebook, WhatsApp went numerous changes which traded the simplicity to introduce features like Instagram, which was another social network app company acquired by Facebook in 2012 earlier for mere 1 billion (sounds like a steal in comparison to WhatsApp deal now, isn’t it?).
Telegram on the other hand was developed by two Russian brothers, Nikolai and Pavel Durov who had previously founded the Russian social network VK, but had to leave the company after it was taken over by the Mail.ru Group (credit: Wikipedia). From it’s initial release in 2012, it have grown to become a great alternative to WhatsApp and currently is struggling to keep it out of grips of influential like big corporations and government scrutiny.
When I first stumbled on Telegram in October 2015, I confused it with a copy of the app WhatsApp but digging deeper I realized it offered something to the table which WhatsApp couldn’t especially after it’s acquisition by Zuckerburg. I soon began to love Telegram for what it offered and the convenience it bought with it. In those times I use to be a frequent user of IRC and use a channel to communicate most of my online friends. But Telegram changed that. Now I have almost left IRC for Telegram and use it for a lot more reasons then just communication with online friends. I use it as a pastebin, a medium to transfer files, a way to get updates on cryptocurrency and also to chat secretly, if needed.
Difference between WhatsApp and Telegram
I have tired to compare both of the social network app on features and technical factors.
|Mechanism for exchanging messages||Store and forward||Cloud based (server/client encryption)||Messages are stored on server, but highly encrypted. So you can access it even if you lost access to your phone, through a PC. On WhatsApp once a message reaches your phone, you can't fetch it again, in case you change your phone. This could be both good and bad and depends on user preference. Personally I prefer Telegram.|
|Delete a message||Can delete within 7 minutes of sending a message. Recipient can see you deleted a message.||Can delete within 48 hours. Message will be deleted from both you and your recipient's end.||Gives user more control over their message. Win for Telegram.|
|Edit a message||Can't edit.||Can edit within 48 hours. User can see that you edited.||Gives user more control over their message. Win for Telegram.|
|Secret Chat||No.||Yes.||The secret chat uses Client-Client encryption to provide a feature that is very useful. Firstly you can only use secret chat from phone and secondly the messages in the secret chat can be auto deleted after a period of time which we can set. It also uses client-client encryption so nothing is stored on cloud. WhatsApp doesn't allow this feature.
As a bonus, in a secret chat, it would notify you if the recipient takes a screenshot of the screen while you are doing a secret chat.
|File Transfer||Mediocre support. There's a limit of just 16 MB on videos. And 100 MB for other kind of files.||There's a limit of 1.5 GB and any file can be send.||WhatsApp only recently supported sending *any* file (than just media), but its limit of 100 MB makes it less powerful than Telegram. A great win for Telegram.|
|Themes||No. Only wallpaper can be changes.||Yes. Can be customized a whole lot.||There are themes available in market and you can create one too in Telegram. I only use the dark theme, not much customization.|
|Desktop Client||Yes. But the desktop client takes more memory than web interface, and also requires the accessibility of WhatsApp on your phone.||Yes. Telegram have a proper desktop client, which can work even if your phone isn't connected to internet. It's because messages are stored on cloud.||It's a big win for Telegram. Due to dependency of WhatsApp on phone, it pretty much makes it useless to access WhatsApp in case your phone dies or don't have Internet. Big reason for why I prefer Telegram. It lets me continue from phone or web or desktop client, seamlessly.|
|Bot support||No.||Yes.||Telegram have bot support, which means you can do tasks like use the IMDb bot to search for movie titles right from within the app.|
|Open source||Partial. Mostly it's under Facebook's control now.||Yes.||Telegram is open source in the fact that you can go on github and make a fork to create your own Telegram client.|
|Bonus features||None||Message to self,|
Self destruct feature
|I can use Telegram like a clipboard and also to transfer messages between my phone and PC. It doesn't have stupid social network feature like sharing live updates. Self destruct feature means your account will be auto deleted if you don't access the app for a certain time from a month all the way to a year.|
While there are numerous things which are great on Telegram, I haven’t even mentioned that most of the security features were first added on Telegram and later came out with WhatsApp. But the most important thing is the commitment of Telegram founders which are making efforts to make it more secure and not to let big corporate giants controlling them, thereby it promises more security and privacy. For me though, the most important thing is feature and convenience and for that Telegram is perfect. No wonder more and more companies are choosing Telegram for it’s ability to connect to masses.