Every time Telegram updates their chat app I am always reminded of the VHS-Betamax and Linux-Windows debates. Sometimes the most popular app or piece of software, in this case, WhatsApp, is not always the best app. Unlike WhatsApp Telegram is transitioning to become more than just a chat app into a fully-featured social network and their latest update proves it.
Prior to this update, the app allowed you to live stream random stuff to an audience of up to 1000 people. Now they just scrapped that limit and will now allow you to stream to, wait for it, an unlimited number of people.I am telling you if this was a WhatsApp feature they would have somehow come up with some bizarre limit like 256 people. I mean how did they ever arrive at such a random number?
A small number of Zimbos enjoying the power of Telegram
Telegram has an impressive 500 million active users but that number is dwarfed by the billions who use WhatsApp. One reason often proffered by people for its local popularity is that Mobile Network Operators have WhatsApp but no Telegram bundles. This has made it a sort of fringe app with most Zimbabweans. The only time they flirted with a shift was during the shocking Internet Shutdown of 2019
There is however a very vocal and vibrant community that swears by everything Telegram. Usually, this is driven by power users who are impressed by features that Telegram offer like an open and free API, channels that allow for bigger groups, piracy groups and strangely free VPN internet groups that share tricks on how to get “free” NetOne internet.
Other new Telegram features that can benefit Zimbabwe’s elearning efforts
While the live stream feature is the headline clincher for me because it can definitely be put to good use during the pandemic there are other updates as well. I mean online lessons would be more effective via live streaming compared to sending videos/audio files via WhatsApp like is the norm with most public schools right?
Well, there is a feature that actually compliments that. Telegram now also has voice channels along the lines of Clubhouse. This means you can conduct an audio classroom which is again, in my opinion, better than sending those dumb audio files most teachers are sending to their students. You don’t need much data for audio channels and they are interactive allowing students to ask questions and participate.
Seriously why are we not getting Telegram bundles. So many things would be easier if we did.