*** NOTE: ALL INFORMATION IS ACCURATE AT DATE OF PUBLISHING ***
I wrote about some changes coming in WhatsApp, and what pushed me to start looking around for alternative messaging services and settling on Telegram. This article has already gathered more attention than I first thought it would, but with many citing Signal as their app of choice. I’m not stating one is better than the other, but in fairness, I thought it would be good to do an overview of the features in Signal. Finally, I’ve got a comparison table of Telegram, WhatsApp and Signal at the bottom of this article.
First things first, I’ve had a few articles shared with me that cover what data is collected by each app. This one is a good one, and also includes Facebook Messenger. My god, this is awful! Looking at that list, Signal fairs the best in terms of the data shared, because it’s absolutely nothing.
Ok, so first, what is the same between Telegram and Signal?
- It’s intuitive, and if you have used WhatsApp or Telegram, you will need no time to really get used to Signal
- You can message individuals that are in the contacts list on your phone
- There is an app for Android and iPhone
- If you want to send messages from your laptop/desktop computer, you can do that too
- You can create groups, and be part of groups
- Making voice and video calls can be done easily
As with with my list of things that compared Telegram to WhatsApp, this is my own personal list, and you might have other things you feel are better in Signal than in Telegram.
Ok, first off, groups.
- Telegram allows for up to 200,000 members in a group, with Signal allowing for 1,000. Honestly, I feel like we are going from one extreme to another. I can see that 1,000 might not be enough for a large organisation, but 200,000 is WAY too many people for a group, at least IMHO
- As with Telegram, you can mute a group, but manage notifications when you are mentioned. Within the group, clicking on @ Mentions, then you can select from Always notify or don’t notify to get the kind of smart notifications you are looking for
- There doesn’t seem to be a way to mute all groups in one action, but you can mute notifications from groups on a group by group basis
- If you are using Telegram and are a group administrator, you can delete a message from a member of the group which deletes it for everyone. This cannot be done in Signal.
This might be important for Apple fans. Apparently, there is no WhatsApp app for the iPad, but there is with Signal (and also Telegram).
Chats can be pinned and unpinned in Telegram, and this feature is also available in Signal. Simply press and hold one of the chats, then click on the pin icon that appears at the top of the ribbon menu. The chat will then appear in a new Pinned section at the top of the list of chats
One of the features I like about Telegram is the last seen time and online status settings. Signal does not appear to have either of these settings. You cannot see when someone was last seen, nor if they are online.
With Telegram, I can chat with people and not need them to have or know my phone number. This is not an option with Signal.
This is one area where Signal has the upper hand. It’s got two settings that Telegram does not have, and that’s to enable or disable read receipts and also enable or disable typing indicators. Disabling these means your recipients will not know if you have read their message, or if you are typing a message, but likewise, you will not know if your recipient is doing the same. I like this feature, shame Telegram doesn’t have it!
Chats can be moved in to folders with Telegram, but no such feature exists with Signal unfortunately!
With Signal, you can create a group, or start a chat with an individual contact. Channels are a great feature in Telegram, providing you with the ability to broadcast a message out to subscribers. So in this regard, Signal is the same as WhatsApp and you wouldn’t be losing anything if you switched.
The username feature in Telegram gives you the ability to create a link you can share with others. This ties back in to the fact that your phone number does not need to be something you share with everyone you chat with over the messenger app. With Signal, you can add a photo and your first and last name, but there is no concept of a username that you can share as a link with people.
A secret chat in Telegram allows you to create a chat where messages cannot be forwarded on to others. It also provides a self destructing message feature where you can set a specific period of time before a message will disappear from both people’s phones that are in the chat. With Signal, you don’t have secret chats, but instead you can turn disappearing messages on and set an amount of time where the messages will disappear. Messages can still be forwarded on to others even with the disappearing messages feature turned on in Signal.
Yeah, I know this one is pretty pointless in the grand scheme of it all, but I LOVE the animated stickers in Telegram. You don’t get this in Signal, but can of course send your own stickers and regular emojis…. it’s just NOT the same. 😉
Polls are a great feature in Telegram, really helpful if you are using a Group chat to manage events, or try and get people to make a decision about something. No polls feature exists in Signal at the moment.
In Telegram, you can edit messages after you’ve sent them. Currently this cannot be done in Signal.
You cannot add a chat to your devices home screen using Signal, although you can do this with Telegram.
To round this out, let’s look at all of the features I have reviewed in this post, and the one that looks at Telegram, and compare them against WhatsApp. If you are purely looking from a feature perspective, Telegram is hands down the winner. If you are a developer and interested from a code perspective, someone else will need to blog about that 😊 If you are concerned about privacy, it’s either Signal or Telegram in my opinion. With Signal not storing ANY of your data, it gets top marks there. Telegram’s features, combined with them only storing your Contact Info, Contacts and your User ID (should you create one), makes it the top contender for swapping out your message app.
NOTE: Please keep in mind this is a comparison table of features and NOT of data protection, end to end encryption or security. That’s not my area of knowledge, and there are a ton of articles already written on this subject, by people WAY smarter than me on the subject!
|Group smart notifications||⛔||✅||✅|
|Pinned messages to top of group chat||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Mute all groups by default||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Last seen time||✅||⛔||✅|
|Ability to hide phone number from message contacts||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Disable read notifications||✅||✅||⛔|
|Folder structure for chats||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Channels for message broadcasts to subscribers||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Creating a username to share with others instead of your phone number||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Self destructing messages||✅||✅||✅|
|Animated stickers in native app||⛔||✅||✅|
|Polls in group chats||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Add chat to home screen of device||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Edit message after it's sent||⛔||⛔||✅|
|Delete message from group member as administrator||⛔||⛔||✅|
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