Telegram is receiving one more update before the end of 2020, once again bringing new features to the platform. Throughout the year, the company has developed a handful of major new features, including support for video calls, video editing tools, support for bigger files, and more; this time, the highlight of the update is voice chats.
Voice chats are somewhat similar to how voice channels work on Discord - on any Telegram group, admins now have the option to enable voice chat, and any user in the group can pop in and out of the voice chat as they please. You can keep voice chats on as you navigate the app or, on Android, while you use other apps, thanks to a floating widget. The feature is also available on desktop, and there, the feature also supports push-to-talk keyboard shortcuts, so you can speak whenever you want to without switching windows.
Improvements have also been made to media editing, with Android users now being able to edit a photo after it's been sent to add stickers or draw on it, while iOS users can edit received photos and send them back. Each feature was previously exclusive to the other platform, but both should now be at feature parity.
Android users specifically are getting a couple of improvements, like new animations for actions in the app, and a new ability to use SD cards as the default storage path to free up internal storage space. Meanwhile, iOS users can now have Siri read incoming messages by enabling Announce Messages for Telegram in the system notification settings.
As usual, the update brings a few new animated emoji that will show up when you send messages with only the emoji in question.
Finally, Telegram is introducing the Bug and Suggestion platform, where users can request features and report bugs in the app. Reports can be liked or commented on, letting users show support or add feedback to a specific request.
On a separate note, Pavel Durov, Telegram's co-founder, announced on his personal Telegram channel that the app will begin its monetization strategy starting in 2021. True to Telegram's values, the company won't be sold, and ads won't infiltrate personal chats. Laying out the guidelines for how the monetization will happen, Durov said that existing features will remain free forever, but certain premium features may be added for power users or businesses that require them.
Additionally, Telegram will introduce the Ad Platform for channels. These public channels often already publish ads, but do so in intrusive ways that are disguised as regular messages, and the Ad Platform will try to address that, while also respecting user privacy and allowing Telegram to cover its costs. Finally, Durov says monetizing Telegram should also benefit the community, such as sticker creators getting a cut of the revenue if Telegram introduces premium paid stickers.
Up until now, Telegram had been running on a donation/investment by Durov, which has been the only source of income for the platform since it launched in 2013. The app's FAQ has long stated that, when that was no longer enough, monetization would come through non-essential app features without making profit an end goal of the service. However, the FAQ also sternly says "no" to ads, which is changing to some extent based on Durov's messaging.