The secure messaging software Telegram has been updated with a flurry of new features, including vanishing messages in any kind of chat, as the app continues to see a burst of new users following the confusion over WhatsApp’s upcoming privacy policy change.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Auto-delete messages now work in any kind of chat.
  • Chats sent before the feature was on aren’t deleted.
  • New Broadcast Groups can have unlimited numbers.
  • Invite links can now be set to expire.
  • New animated emoji are available, too.
  • Only Secure Chats are end-to-end encrypted.

An image showing a new global auto-delete option in the Telegram app for iPhone

Auto-delete goes global

Vanishing messages, now supported by WhatsApp as well, have now expanded to all kinds of chats on Telegram. Before, auto-delete messages were only possible in Telegram’s encrypted Secret Chats. Now you can enable this option for any other kind of chat.

To set a chat’s messages to automatically vanish after either 24 hours or seven days, touch and hold a message, then tap Select → Clear Chat (top-left) → Enable Auto-Delete. This only works for messages that have been sent after the feature has been turned on. Any messages sent or received before the feature was turned on won’t be deleted automatically.

All messages show a countdown to their deletion time, which you can view if you touch and hold a message in your chat list.

Broadcast groups and expiring links

With the new Broadcast Groups feature, aimed at large communities, you can create a group chat that has an unlimited number of members. To keep things under control, a Broadcast Group can be set to limit post creation to admins.

Voice chats are open to everyone in a Broadcast Group, which should be “ideal for large communities, where people can follow along and catch exclusive interviews, news, or just casual talks,” according to a blog post on the Telegram website.

With expiring links, you have more control over adding people to groups. You can now create invite links that expire after a certain number of uses, a certain amount of time or both.

Widgets and more

You can now add a Telegram widget to the Home screen of your iPhone for instant access to the most important chats. The Chat widget shows a preview of recent messages, while the Shortcut widget shows only names and profile pictures.

Because Home screen widgets in iOS aren’t interactive, tapping a message in the widget simply launches Telegram and takes you to the message.

On Android, chats and messages in the widget will always be up to date, and you can further expand the widget to take up more of your screen. On iOS, widgets will only get fresh data occasionally and can’t be expanded – this is due to system limitations.

Other new features in Telegram include scannable QR codes, the ability to sort imported messages by their original date, an improved reporting system (requiring you to select specific messages when sending a report), new animated emoji and more.

End-to-end encrypted?

Is Telegram a completely secure messaging app? It could be if you knew what you were doing. Telegram is a cloud-based software, an approach which enables it to introduce features like Broadcast Groups. That being said, it’s worth repeating that only Secret Chats on the service are end-to-end encrypted, meaning that those messages can only be decoded and viewed on the devices of the people participating.

Telegram is available free in the App Store.

Image and animation credit: Telegram