We launched Telegram 6 years ago, on August 14, 2013 – and immediately set to work on the next update. That‘s how it’s been ever since.
After a little while we noticed that our work not only brings progress to Telegram – but also results in the evolution of messaging as a whole. It is heartwarming to see our solutions and design decisions adopted as de facto standards across the board.
To keep you entertained while we‘re working on this month’s second update, we've compiled a brief history of Telegram. It ended up rather on the ‘humongous’ side of ‘brief’ – but it's not like the next update is tomorrow either. So read on.
Oh, and if you want to give us a gift, bring two of your best friends to Telegram today.
For some reason, we started writing this backwards – from the latest update to the primordial summer of 2013. And then it was too late to change the order because the guy who compiled the post said he would go on a hunger strike if we tried.
So if you're a fan of chronology, please jump to the end and scroll up from there. (By the way, we decided we're going to keep this post up to date as new updates arrive.)
Scheduled Messages, Reminders, Custom Cloud Themes and More Privacy
The end of summer brought scheduled messages and reminders to better keep track of important tasks and appointments. On the visual side, shareable Custom Cloud Themes came to all platforms, along with more animated emoji.
An important privacy option was added for those who need it most – Who Can Find Me By My Phone Number. This new setting can prevent random users (or government organizations) from being able to match a number from their device's contacts to your Telegram account.
On Telegram since September 2019:
Silent Messages, Slow Mode, Admin Titles and More
The August update brought a way to send silent messages – which result in a notification without sound. We also added custom titles and a slow mode for group admins. But you probably remember this, it's only been a week.
Following the success of animated stickers, this update also introduced animated emoji for , , , and . More followed.
On Telegram since August 2019:
The July update introduced animated stickers. We managed to achieve a smooth 60 FPS at just 20-30 KB per sticker. Animated stickers consume less bandwith than static ones and less battery than GIFs, while commanding more attention than the two combined.
Here are some sample animated sets in case you missed them: Hot Cherry, Tidy Tie Tom, Resistance Dog, Fred the Pug, Melie the Cavy, Earl the Wolf, Egg Yolk
These stickers are powered with uranium and dreams and are guaranteed to keep going forever.
On Telegram since July 2019:
Location-Based Chats, Adding Contacts Without Phone Numbers and More
The June update focused on making it easier to add people to contacts. A universal Add button was introduced to all new chats, making it possible to add users to contacts even if you don't know their number yet.
A new Add People Nearby section was created to quickly exchange numbers with people close to you. The new section also allows creating location-based public chats.
On Telegram since June 2019:
Focused Privacy, Discussion Groups, Seamless Web Bots and More
The second May update made Telegram Privacy Settings even more flexible. You can add whole groups to ‘Never Share’ or ‘Always Share’ exceptions. Settings will adjust automatically as people join and leave the groups.
On Telegram, your phone number was never visible to random people in groups, the default being ‘My Contacts’. This update offered even more control via Settings > Privacy & Security > Phone Number.
The update also introduced an easier way to integrate web services with Telegram, adding one-tap authorization via bots. Last but not least, it offered two new ways of adding comments to channels – via Comments.app and connected discussion groups. (We didn't start the flame war.)
On Telegram since May 31, 2019:
Archived Chats, a New Design on Android and More
The first May update introduced Archived Chats. Unmuted chats pop out of the archive with the next incoming message – but muted chats stay archived forever (or until they generate a notification via a mention or reply). An unlimited number of chats can be pinned in the archive.
Android design got a major overhaul. Aside from the visual improvements, this update added a three-lines-per-chat view option for the Android chat list (similar to the iOS default), as well as bulk actions in the chats list to easily delete, archive or mute multiple chats at once.
On Telegram since May 9, 2019:
Taking Back Our Right to Privacy
Before the March update, you could delete your messages within 48 hours of sending them. As of this update, you can delete any message you've ever sent or received in any private chat, there's no time limit. This also applies to clearing entire chats. The deleted messages don't leave a mark in the chat.
This update also introduced a setting for Anonymous Forwards, allowing you to control when messages forwarded from your account link back to it. This way people you chat with have no verifiable proof you ever sent them anything.
On Telegram since March 2019:
Autoplaying Videos, Automatic Downloads and Multiple Accounts
Following the February update, smaller videos start playing without sound when they reach your screen. Pressing the volume buttons on your device unmutes them.
This update also introduced presets for autodownload settings to switch between Low, Medium, High and Custom data consumption in a few taps. Default settings for data usage have become more generous but depend on the affordability of mobile data in each particular country.
As of this update, iOS users can also log in to Telegram with multiple accounts from one app, easily switch between them and get notifications. Support for multiple accounts was added to Android in December 2017.
On Telegram since February 2019
Chat Backgrounds 2.0: Make Your Own
The second update in January brought chat wallpapers to version 2.0, adding support for motion and blur effects, plain color backgrounds and patterns, as well as an option to share backgrounds via links and find new ones in search.
For those who appreciate art history, the classical Telegram backgrounds which were used at launch can be found here.
On Telegram since January 31, 2019
Group Permissions, Undo Delete and More
The first January update brought group permissions, allowing admins to restrict all members from posting specific kinds of content or even from messaging altogether. The maximum size for groups was doubled to 200,000 members.
The update also added an ‘Undo’ option after deleting chats or clearing history. It's like a time machine, but with fewer paradoxes.
On Telegram since January 21, 2019
Polls: Bringing Choice to Communities
As of the second update from December '18, Telegram users can create polls in groups and channels, letting group members vote anonymously.
Poll bots have been available since the dawn of the Bot Platform.
On Telegram since December 22, 2018
Custom Languages, Instant View 2.0 and More
This first December update in 2018 revolutionized app interfaces, adding custom languages – whether that's Māori, Scottish Gaelic or Transliterated Klingon. Qapla'. Users can share translated language packs with dedicated sharing links.
Everyday be talk like a pirate day if ye've downloaded the pirate speak chest. Babel fish now optional.
On Telegram since December 10, 2018
Introducing Telegram 5.0 for iOS
Telegram for iOS was rebuilt from scratch for this update – using the Swift programming language. The new client is slicker, faster and more battery-friendly. If the old Telegram was a race car, this one is a race car with jet engines and a well-caffeinated driver.
New badge counter settings were added on iOS, allowing users to exclude messages from muted chats or count unread chats instead of messages.
The native macOS client added swipe gestures to navigate interfaces. MacBook Pro owners got touch bar support.
On Telegram since October 2018
Chat Export Tool, Better Notifications and More
This update brought an easy way to download copies of your chats, including photos and other media using Telegram Desktop. August '18 also saw the birth of Notification Exceptions – a way to customize notification settings for particular users.
On Telegram since August 2018
Telegram Passport was launched as a unified authorization service for ICOs, financial services and other platforms based on real-life ID. You no longer have to upload scans of your ID each time a different service requires it.
On Telegram since July 2018
Replace Media, Share vCards, Mark as Unread, 2X Voice Messages, and More
The June '18 update brought the ability to replace photos and videos when editing messages – in case you accidentally sent a picture of your lunch instead of the company's new logo.
As of this update, voice and video messages can be played at 2x speed and users can mark chats as read or unread.
On Telegram since June 2018:
Sticker Search, Multiple Photos and More
Since they were introduced, stickers have become a key method of communication for many Telegram users. As of this update, users can search for new sticker packs.
I'm not addicted to sending stickers. I can stop any time.
200,000,000 Monthly Active Users
Telegram has never been promoted with ads, so every user joined because they were invited by others. Telegram is more than a messaging app, it's the idea that everyone on the planet has a right to be free.
On Telegram since March 2018:
Two updates were launched on February 6, 2018.
Streaming and Auto-Night Mode on Android
This was when the apps got streaming support, allowing you to view videos without waiting for them to fully download. This update also introduced auto-night mode for Android users, shielding weary eyes from bright light when browsing memes in bed.
Another update introduced the Telegram Login Widget for external websites, empowering businesses to use Telegram bots to automate anything from customer support to accepting payments or tracking shipments.
On Telegram since February 2018
Two updates were launched on January 31, 2018.
Telegram X: Progress through Competition
Two Telegram X clients were unveiled as alternatives to the main iOS and Android apps – built from the ground up to be faster and easier to use, while featuring smooth animations and a sleek design. Telegram X for iOS has since become the native client on iPhones around the world.
TDLib - Build Your Own Telegram
The Telegram Database Library helps developers make their own versions of Telegram – and was used to create Telegram X for Android. TDLib handles network implementation, encryption, and local storage, giving third-party developers more time to focus on the fun parts of app design. All the API methods are fully documented and the code is available on GitHub.
Both Telegram X and the Telegram Bot API are an example of what can be done with this library.
On Telegram since January 2018
Themes, Multiple Accounts and More
Themes came to iOS, with simple ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ options. We considered adding a ‘Twilight’ option but it got sabotaged by lovesick vampires and werewolves.
Android added support for multiple accounts, to quickly switch between up to three profiles (or personalities) without logging out.
On Telegram since December 2017
Albums, Saved Messages and Better Search
Albums and Saved Messages came to Telegram in November as a way to cut down on clutter and keep things organized. Multiple media items could be sent as one message, neatly arranged instead of filling up the chat with individual messages and multiple notifications.
Saved Messages brought bookmarks and personal storage, giving users the ability to forward messages there for later reference.
On Telegram since November 2017
Live Locations, Media Player and Languages
October '17 expanded location sharing to include a live feed, useful for finding your friends or seeing how far they are from a destination. The interactive maps support multiple users, so your entire group can share their locations and see each other in one place.
Telegram also expanded its localization, launching the Translations Platform for users to refine the currently-available translations.
On Telegram since October 2017
Better Replies, Stickers & Invitations
Keeping track of replies and mentions was streamlined in August’s update, adding the new ‘@’ badge to the chat list, and ‘@’ button inside chats to jump from mention to mention.
The option to set favorite stickers was added, while groups got the ability to choose official sticker sets.
On Telegram since August 2017
Disappearing Media, Your Bio & More Speed
July’s update added a self-destruct timer for photos and videos to give users the option to send disappearing media in Private Chats.
To help say a little more about themselves, user profiles were given a bio section.
On Telegram since July 2017
Supergroups 10,000: Admin Tools & More
Groups leveled up in June '17, increasing the maximum members to 10,000 and introducing a suite of new tools to manage the masses.
Admin permissions became individual, allowing for specific privileges. So did members’, meaning people could be put under custom restrictions for acting up.
The Recent Actions page was added for admins, showing a summary of all notable group activity within the past 48 hours.
On Telegram since June 2017
Three updates were released on May 18, 2017.
Video Messages and Telescope
Just in time for Summer, video messages were introduced to add another dimension to chats and channels.
Instant Views for Everyone & a $200K Contest
Instant View grew into a platform for reformatting articles from the Web into lightweight, uniform pages which instantly open in Telegram, rather than a browser. A contest to create new templates was launched.
Payments for Bots
Bot payments joined the pool party as well, so users could pay for goods and services right in the app.
On Telegram since May 2017
Voice Calls: Secure, Crystal-Clear, AI-Powered
March '17 brought voice calls to Telegram, featuring end-to-end encryption, crisp sound and incredible speed.
The video editor received a compression slider to change the quality at which a video is sent.
On Telegram since March 2017
Custom themes first came to the Android phone app, along with a theme editor, giving users the ability to recolor individual elements and share their creations with others.
Telegram Desktop reaches version 1.0 – and it's BEAUTIFUL
Telegram Desktop, first launched in January '14, reached version 1.0, with a new design, refined animations and custom theme support, in addition to all its earlier features.
The GMail bot made its debut as well, allowing users to condense all their communications into one platform.
Telegram came to wrists with its Android Wear 2.0 version, featuring fully-functional messaging capability, plus added themes to keep things chic.
On Telegram since February 2017
Unsend Messages, Network Usage, and More
Telegram rang in the New Year with a completely new feature - the ability to unsend messages sent within the past 48 hours.
To keep track of users' data consumption, Network Usage was added to Settings.
On Telegram since January 2017
Meet the Telegraph API for Logins and Stats
The Telegraph API opened to the public in the final update of 2016. Publishing and organizing articles gained automated support with the new @Telegraph bot.
On Telegram since December 20, 2016
Pinned Chats and IFTTT Integrations
Conversation management became easier with the option to pin chats to the top of the chat list.
IFTTT integration was introduced to help link Telegram to over 360 services at launch. This gives users control over their accounts on other services straight from the Telegram app – including social media, mail clients and even things like smart appliances or other devices.
On Telegram since December 7, 2016
Instant View, Telegraph, and Other Goodies
Instant View came in November 2016, instantly loading articles and web pages all inside the Telegram app. Added in the same update, the Telegraph platform is a minimalist word processor compatible with Instant View, designed for quickly publishing documents and articles.
On Telegram since November 2016
This is where wide full-color illustrations for our blog posts end – or begin, depending on which direction you just came from.
With winter not far off, Telegram introduced a Games platform that allows users to play games through bots. Players get the chance to challenge friends, while creators have an easy and accessible way to bring their game ideas to life.
On Telegram since October 2016
Photo Editor 2.0, Masks and Homemade GIFs
In September ‘16, the time came to improve Telegram’s Photo Editor with fun new decorations like masks, text, stickers and drawings. Additionally, the video editor added the ability to make GIFs out of videos by tapping its new ‘Mute’ button.
On Telegram since September 2016
Trending Stickers, Storage and More
A Trending Stickers option was added so popular sticker packs can be easily found and added to one's collection. Groups received previews so prospective members can see what they‘re about and who’s in them before joining the party.
On Telegram since August 2016
Drafts, Picture-in-Picture, and More
June '16 brought cross-platform cloud drafts, syncing your unfinished messages across devices. Since then, users have been able to start typing on one device and finish on another. For more multitasking, Picture-in-Picture support was added to let users work and watch simultaneously.
On Telegram since June 2016
Edit Messages, New Mentions and More
Fast typers rejoiced as the ability to edit sent messages was introduced in all chats. Mentions were expanded to include users without usernames, and Bots were given their own space in the attachment menu for easy access.
On Telegram since May 2016
Instant Camera and More 3D Touch
Instant camera was added so users could snap and send photos faster, saving the extra thumb-work to make sure the moment is captured.
On Telegram since April 28, 2016
Starting in April 2016, inline bots no longer require you to use a keyboard. These software-controlled friends now immediately present clickable options to get results with no typing required. They were also integrated with services like YouTube and Foursquare for easy video and location sharing.
This update gave users a new way of sharing media between chats, introducing GIF and sticker previews to make the selection process more straightforward.
On Telegram since April 12, 2016
Supergroups 5000: Public Groups, Pinned Posts
To keep order as supergroups grew from 1,000 members to 5,000, important announcements could be placed at the top of the screen as pinned messages. Additional moderation tools were introduced that helped prevent spam in public supergroups. This included the ability to report spam, ban a user outright, or simply erase all of their posts from the group.
On Telegram since March 2016
Channels got plenty of new features including admin signatures and silent broadcasts. It became possible to edit your messages in channels and supergroups.
On Telegram since February 24, 2016
Voice Messages 2.0, Secret Chats 3.0 and…
Chatting got easier with raise-to-speak and raise-to-listen functionality, streamlining voice messages by giving a no-tap way to play and record. On the privacy end, users got the ability to restrict who can invite them to groups and channels.
On Telegram since February 12, 2016
Inline bots make it possible to use bot services in any chat without adding those bots as members – you just start any message with their username and everything that comes after becomes a query for the bot. These utilities can link Wikipedia articles, post YouTube videos or search for GIFs to entertain friends. Unfortunately, while being very good at fetch, they still can't pull a sled – even after all these years.
GIF file size was reduced by 95%, making them load 20x faster. Autoplay for all GIFs was enabled to show off their new-found speed.
On Telegram since January 2016
Clearing Cache and Reordering Stickers
The space-saving option of clearing cache was introduced, including chat-by-chat specificity. This was coupled with a setting to choose how long to keep media before it gets deleted from the cache (to be re-downloaded from the cloud should you need it again).
On Telegram since December 2015
This update added the admin role. Admins have the power to manage group chats and enforce rules. Just in time, as the maximum number of users for group chats grew to 1,000 people with the addition of supergroups.
On Telegram since November 2015
Channels: Broadcasting Done Right
September '15 brought channels, the perfect tool for broadcasting messages to the masses. Channels can have unlimited followers, offer view counters for each post and only let the admins post. These one-way chats give updates the spotlight by moving the discussion elsewhere. Channels were quickly adopted in regions where freedom of speech falls short.
On Telegram since September 2015
Shared Links and Recent Searches
Telegram delivered quality of life updates in August '15, showing shared links on chat info pages as well as a list of recent searches when beginning a new one.
On Telegram since August 2015
In-App Media Playback and Search in Chats
This update added the ability to view media, enjoy music and watch videos from external sources directly in the app. Chat-specific search was implemented as well, making it easier to find messages from a particular conversation.
On Telegram since July 2015
In June of 2015, Telegram released the Bot API and created a platform for users to create and publish their own bots. Bots exist to add features to Telegram and make user's lives easier - bots can handle payments, moderate groups, fetch emails and much more.
Telegram also received Apple Watch support. With a flick of the wrist, users can view recent chats, reply with stickers, dictate messages and more. Anything that can't fit on the watch display gets a shortcut to open on your phone instead.
On Telegram since June 2015
Since May '15, stickers can be uploaded and shared as sticker sets. All apps got a dedicated sticker panel. Tapping on any sticker shows its set and lets you add the lot.
On Telegram since May 2015
Migrating Existing Group Chats to Telegram
Invite links were added so users can easily bring their friends to group chats, even when those friends are lost in another messenger.
Users gained the ability to caption photos, so the context and content can be sent as one message.
Active Sessions and Two-Step Verification
Telegram rolled out an essential privacy feature in April 2015 - Two-step Verification – adding an extra layer of protection by requiring a password when logging into a new device.
Link previews were introduced to help users see where a link leads without having to click on it and find out for themselves.
On Telegram since April 2015
Sending Files On Steroids — And More
This update brought the ability to send multiple files at once and trim videos before sending them.
On Telegram since March 25, 2015
Reinventing Group Chats: Replies, Mentions, Hashtags and More
March '15 made messaging more convenient – Telegram added replies, mentions and hashtags. Replies make it easier to keep continuity in group chats, while mentions help get someone's attention and hashtags allow users to label messages for future use.
On Telegram since March 19, 2015
Photo Editor and Passcode Lock
February '15 delivered the most powerful photo editor among messaging apps – featuring auto-enhance, crop and rotate functions in its initial version. To keep those photos and chats secure, users were given the option to lock their app with a passcode.
On Telegram since February 25, 2015
This update introduced the Files tab to better view all documents shared in a particular chat (some media outlets mistakenly thought this was when we introduced sending files). Additionally, the update brought in Mute shortcuts, helping users disable notifications more quickly.
On Telegram since February 1, 2015
January '15 saw the first sticker on Telegram. Since then, starting a message with a single emoji brings up a list of emotionally corresponding sticker suggestions.
The first official stickers from Telegram formed the classic Great Minds set. Artists were invited to publish their work on the free and open platform.
On Telegram since January 2015
Telegram.me, Changing Numbers, PFS and more
Users with usernames were offered Telegram.me/username links, which open their profile page in Telegram. This update also enabled changing the phone number of a Telegram account. Single-column mode was added for Telegram Desktop, making multitasking easier on smaller screens.
Fun fact: In 2016, Instagram will restrict users from adding Telegram.me (and Snapchat) links to their bios.
On Telegram since December 2014
There were two Telegram updates on November 19, 2014.
Hiding Last Seen Time - Done Right
This update expanded Privacy Settings to cover Last Seen status, allowing unprecedented flexibility with ‘Always Share With’ and ‘Never Share With’ exceptions for individual users.
This was also when account self-destruction was introduced. Telegram doesn‘t aim to accumulate and store your data when you don’t need it anymore. So if you throw away your SIM card and it gets a new owner in 6 months, they won't access your chats.
Material Design on Android, Instant Search for Messages and more
November '14 also delivered Instant Full-Text Search to iOS and Android. Since then you can quickly find any message you ever sent or received on Telegram.
GIF search was first supported on iOS. The Android app got a massive redesign, consistent with material guidelines.
On Telegram since November 2014
Public usernames, smaller timers for Secret Chats, and more
October '14 marks the beginning of properly recorded history on Telegram. The first update ever to be described in a blog post brought public usernames, adding the ability to share your Telegram contact without disclosing your phone number.
Secret Chats got a major upgrade, with self-destructing media showing blurred thumbnails and starting the countdown only after they are first opened. This prevented them from disappearing before actually being viewed. This was also when screenshot notifications were first introduced.
Telegram for Android received several updates, adding support for Android Wear and tablets, as well as video compression.
On Telegram since October 2014
GIFs, iPad support and broadcast lists on iOS
Telegram has supported iPads since September '14. In this update, the iOS app learned to play GIF animations and added cloud search for messages, as well as adding search by file name to the Shared Documents section. iOS also caught up with Android, adding support for broadcast lists.
On Telegram since September 2014
Broadcast lists were first introduced to Android in August '14, only to be replaced with channels a little over a year later.
On Telegram since August 2014
Multiple photo upload and more
Telegram for Android caught up with iOS, allowing users to preview photos before sending — as well as select and send many photos at once. Notifications were improved to be more reliable.
On Telegram since June 2014
Voice Messages, Delete Messages for both sides in Secret Chats, Language Settings on Android
The March '14 update introduced voice messages to Telegram. Messages deleted in Secret Chats began disappearing for both sides.
Telegram for Android added the option to change the app language in Settings. The first languages to be added were German and Italian.
On Telegram since March 2014
New apps, autodownload settings and contact management tools for Android
More Telegram apps entered the fray. An unofficial Telegram app for Web was introduced and later moved to web.telegram.org to become the official web version. Telegram for Windows Phone was created in a contest for app developers.
Meanwhile, an update introduced autodownload settings and new tools to manage contacts on Android.
On Telegram since February 2014
First thing in 2014, Telegram allowed documents of any type to be sent, including .pdf, .doc, .png, .mp3, etc. The size limit is 1,5 GB per file.
An unofficial Telegram app for PC was announced, which would later become the official Telegram Desktop.
On Telegram since January 2014
Crowdsourcing a more secure future
The only significant vulnerability to ever be discovered in the MTProto protocol was fixed during the First Telegram Crypto Contest. The researcher who discovered it was awarded a bounty of $100,000.
On Telegram since December 2013
After a contest for Android developers, the alpha version of Telegram for Android was officially launched. Telegram apps got Secret Chats with self-destruct timers.
The MTProto Protocol specification and Telegram API were fully documented and the code of the apps became open source.
On Telegram since October 2013
Telegram for iOS was launched.
Congratulations on completing this (not very) brief course on the history of Telegram. You just got an honorary PhD in Instant Messaging – unless you simply jumped down here, in which case you still have a long way to go to get back to the top.
Armed with this much knowledge, you should probably join our Volunteer Support Force. And if that‘s not your cup of tea – just tell us in the comments which feature you didn’t know existed.
August 15, 2019
The Telegram Team