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Telegram ships ‘historic’ new update that founder says could save lives

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Telegram has rolled out a major new update to its app, which it claims will “redefine the boundaries of what a messaging app can do”.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov described the upgrade as “historic”, telling users that the latest tools could ultimately help save lives.

The update includes features that allow users to set any sound as their notification tone, animated emoji and new auto-delete functions in order to improve privacy.

“You can now turn any sound into a notification tone, creating custom alerts from your favourite music or even memes,” Telegram explained in a blog post. “Auto-delete can be enabled in any chat to make a conversation more confidential or less cluttered.”

It also offers developers the ability to create “infinitely flexible interfaces for supercharged bots”, while adding important improvements for people seeking reliable information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The latest update comes after Telegram surpassed 500 million active users last year, having experienced a surge of new users following controversies and outages to rival messaging app WhatsApp.

The Meta (formerly Facebook) owned app is the most popular messaging app worldwide, with roughly 2 billion monthly active users, though its growth has slowed in relation to Telegram’s.

Mr Durov, who was born in Russia but now lives in semi-exile after clashing with Russian authorities in 2014 over how the app handled users’ data, said the app was helping fight against misinformation spreading in the war in Ukraine.

“Never before have bots been so powerful or notification options so flexible,” Mr Durov wrote on his Telegram channel, which counts more than half a million subscribers.

“We recognise that Telegram has become the main source of information from Ukraine, and we hope that the tools we provide can help inform more people and save more lives.

“To ease the work of journalists around the world, all public channel posts in Ukranian now always offer the translate button by default.”

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