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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Telegram v3.18 adds voice calls and video compression options

Users of the messaging app Telegram may have noticed an update waiting for them today. This new version, 3.18, adds in five compression options for videos and the much-requested voice calls. But before we get too carried away on that last one, let's look at the changelog.

  • Telegram Calls are here: secure, crystal-clear, constantly improved by artificial intelligence. We are rolling them out in Europe today, the rest of the world will get calls within a few days.
  • Choose between 5 grades of video compression and preview the quality of your video before you send it.

Telegram bases itself on user security and privacy, so it's no surprise that voice calls will receive the same treatment. According to the company, the encryption is based on the one used for Secret Chats and builds upon the key exchange system. Each call will take place over a peer-to-peer (P2P) connection whenever possible and use the best audio codecs to save bandwidth. While the app will adapt to the network conditions to provide the best sound quality at the lowest data cost, there is an option to use 25-30% less data at the expense of quality. And in keeping with the focus on security, privacy, and control, users have fine, granular control over who can call them (if anyone).


Oh, voice calls will also feature machine learning to improve quality. The claim is that Telegram will not have access to the actual content of the conversation, just network and technical info. This feature is rolling out only to Western European users today, but everyone else can get in on it in the next few days.

And while much less exciting, Telegram is also adding in control over video compression. Users can select to the degree to which the file will be compressed, and then be able to preview it to know exactly how the recipient will see it. The app will remember the rate and use it as the default next time.

All of this comes shortly after Google announced that Duo would be getting voice calling, which was about a week ago. Anyway, v3.18 should be hitting everyone's devices soon.

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