Messaging app Telegram on Wednesday rolled out the twelfth and last major update to the app in 2020, which brings group voice chats for all users, editing improvements, new animated emojis, and more. 

The most interesting highlight of the update is Voice Chats, which is similar to how voice channels work in a Discord room or call. It offers users a persistent conference call to speak live with friends or family who are a part of a Telegram group. It also allows users to join and leave the call as and when they wish. 

 

“Any Telegram group can now become a voice chat room that is always on. Voice Chats run in parallel to the existing text and media-based communication, adding a live layer of ephemeral talk to the group. They can be used as virtual office spaces for teams or informal lounges for any community,” the company said in a statement.

Voice Chats can accommodate a few thousand participants. This feature will be seen at the top of the existing group chats. If it is enabled, it will allow anyone to join the conversation easily.

After joining a voice chat, users can freely move around the app, browse conversations and send messages. Users can stay connected to the chat and the microphone controls remain on screen so that they can quickly mute and unmute yourself at any time.

Telegram has also designed a voice chat overlay for Android that allows users to enjoy the full Voice Chat experience with a system-wide floating widget. It allows users to see mic controls and who is currently talking, even if they have Telegram running in the background. The feature is also available on the desktop versions of Telegram for Mac and Windows, where users can choose a push-to-talk key for voice chats to control their microphone input. 

Voice chats can also accommodate up to a ‘few thousand’ participants at a time, which makes the platform one of the most useful options for bigger groups or live events. 

Currently, group voice chats are focused on audio, but Telegram says it will be improving noise suppression, and adding more features like video and screen sharing in the coming weeks. 

Apart from this, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has revealed that the messaging app is nearing 500 million users and it plans to monetize its platform with ads in 2021. These ads will be user-friendly, respect privacy and will allow the company to cover the costs of servers and traffic. 

“Telegram will begin to generate revenue, starting next year. We will be able to launch countless new features and welcome billions of new users,” Durov said in a statement on his Telegram channel.

“If Telegram starts earning money, the community should also benefit. For example, If we monetize large public one-to-many channels via the Ad Platform, the owners of these channels will receive free traffic in proportion to their size. Or, if Telegram introduces premium stickers with additional expressive features, the artists who make stickers of this new type will also get a part of the profit. We want millions of Telegram-based creators and small businesses to thrive, enriching the experience of all our users.”

Durov also added that all the features that are currently free will stay free. They will be adding some new features for business teams or power users. Some of these features will require more resources and will be paid for by these premium users. However, regular users will be able to keep enjoying Telegram for free, forever.

All parts of Telegram devoted to messaging will remain ad-free. “We think that displaying ads in private 1-to-1 chats or group chats is a bad idea. Communication between people should be free of advertising of any sort,” Durov noted. 

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