Telegram, the privacy-oriented IM competitor to Whatsapp, has announced hitting the 400 million monthly users milestone. Launched in 2013, Telegram recorded 300 million monthly users only a year ago, as recent as October last year. Gaining an additional 100 million in such a short span is an impressive feat by all means.

Telegram has also announced a slew of new features. Against a background of the growing popularity of Zoom and MS Teams, Telegram is working on introducing a secure video call feature within the main app. Zoom has recently been under critical scrutiny for security breaches and thus has been banned across a multitude of countries. Bringing a video feature will only Telegram’s popularity, specially in times such as the ones we are living in right now. Making the long requested feature live is one of Telegram’s goals for 2020.

Another popular feature getting an upgrade is Telegram’s quizzing system. Users can now view a notification explaining correct answers post attempting a question. Taking it to the next level, the app has offered 400,000 euros to creators of original educational tests to create test on any subject, in any language and of any difficulty level.

The tests may even use media in the questions as long as intellectual property rights are respected. Starting 15th may, the app will be open to test submission. These submissions can be accessed in a searchable directory. Telegram will pick winners based on the quality and popularity of a submission. With educational instituions all but shut, this could be a vital cog in Telegram’s success wheel in times to come.

The list however doesn’t end here. Additional feature updates include a searchable sticker directory that serves as a portal for 20,000 stickers available on the app. Similar to the dice roller sticker that was introduced earlier this year, a dart-throwing sticker is now in the mix. The sticker shows up when you use the respective emoji and even allows you to compete with friends. 

The android app has mixed things up in its UI as well. In the redesigned attachment menu, all attachment types open in a pop up layer instead of a display across the entire screen. The switching of tabs also features a short animation. In the MacOS version, shared media is shown directly on the profile page and offers a photo editor that can be used to doodle before a photo is shared.

Transient with respect to the quality of service offered, the app owes the constant growth of its user base to the new features introduced every now and then. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Telegram adds 1.5 million users on a daily basis and is the most downloaded app across 20 countries.

Another feature attracting popularity is Telegram’s desktop app. Besides offering a wide range of features including cloud storage and folders, the app doesn’t require a user’s phone to be connected to the internet in order to function, unlike Whatapp.

Privacy is another area where Telegram seems to have created enough confidence among users. The app has been notoriously known for not complying with most government data requests. And while that has gone down well with its users, this has led to some interesting scenarios as well.

An example is China which Telegram deems as one of its biggest markets despite the app being banned. The Chinese user base can be accredited to VPN servers and the populace’s desperation for uncensored information. Regardless of its rather bold ways, the app has managed to gain commendable popularity leading to the expansion of its user base.