Apple held up Telegram’s newest update over Emoji

Telegram released a new update on Friday, just one day after Telegram CEO and founder Pavel Durov said the update had been in Apple’s app review for two weeks without explanation.

The update is packed with emoji-related features, but one is missing because Apple specifically requested its removal, according to Durov.

“After extensive media coverage of our previous post, Apple got around to us with a demand to water down our pending Telegram update by removing Telemoji — higher quality vector-animated versions of the standard emoji,” Durov wrote on his Telegram channel on Friday. “This is a puzzling action on Apple’s behalf because Telemoji would have brought a new dimension to its fixed low-resolution emoji and greatly enhanced their ecosystem.”

You can visit the Telemoji in a short video with Durov’s post-Telemoji look like a lot of fun — how they add some life to fixed Emoji faces you’ve gotten quite familiar with. But you are guessing Apple took issue with another company modifying its designs this way, which might be why it asked Telegram to remove Telemoji from the update. Apple and Telegram didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. Instead, Apple returned to us with a demand to water down our pending Telegram update by removing Telemoji.

The update is loaded with other new emoji improvements, though. Users who subscribe to Telegram’s recently-launched $4.99 Premium service will be able to upload and use custom emojis in chats with friends. Telegram is offering ten custom packs with more than 500 emojis to start. Free users will be able to see any of the animated emojis and use them in their saved messages.

Telegram has also updated the sticker panel on iOS by creating separate tabs for stickers, GIFs, and Emoji, like what you might be familiar with in Telegram on Android, desktop, or the web. You can read the complete list of updates in Telegram’s blog post.

There are more improvements on the way. In “a few weeks,” Telegram will let users add any custom emoji as a message reaction, Durov says, though this will be a Premium-only feature. Emoji reactions are good — the more ways to use emojis, the better.

Telegram is a freeware, cloud-based, cross-platform instant messaging (IM) service. The service also delivers end-to-end encrypted video calling, file sharing, VoIP, and other features. It was pitched for iOS on 14 August 2013 and Android on 20 October 2013.

Telegram servers are distributed worldwide with five data centers in different regions, while the operations center is established in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Diverse client apps are available for desktop and mobile platforms, including official iOS, Windows, Android, macOS, and Linux (although registration needs an iOS or Android device and a working phone number).

There are also official Telegram web twin apps, WebK and WebZ, and numerous unofficial clients that use Telegram’s protocol. All of the Telegram’s official components are open source, except the server, which is closed-source and proprietary.

Telegram delivers optional end-to-end encrypted chats. Cloud conversations and groups are encrypted between the app and the server so that ISPs and third parties on the grid can’t access data, but the Telegram server can. In addition, users can make voice and video calls, send text and voice messages, and share unlimited images, user locations, documents (2 GB per file), animated stickers, contacts, and audio files.

Users can also pursue channels that have been used by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and politicians: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Moldova Maia Sandu, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others.

In January 2021, Telegram exceeded 500 million monthly active users. In addition, it was the most downloaded app in January 2021, with 1 billion downloads globally as of late August 2021.

Telegram was pitched in 2013 by the brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair launched the Russian social network VK, which they left in 2014, saying President Putin’s allies had taken it over. Pavel Durov marketed his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after defying government pressure.

Nikolai Durov created the MTProto protocol that is the basis for the messenger, while Pavel Durov delivered financial support and infrastructure through his Digital Fortress fund. Telegram Messenger states that its end goal is not to bring profit but is not structured as a non-profit organization.

Telegram is documented as a company in the British Virgin Islands and as an LLC in Dubai. However, it does not disclose where it rents offices or which legal entities it uses to rent them, citing the need to “shelter the team from unnecessary influence” and protect users from governmental data requests.

After Pavel Durov left Russia in 2014, he was said to be moving from country to country with a small group of computer programmers consisting of 15 core members.

While a former employee of VK claimed that Telegram had employees in Saint Petersburg, Pavel Durov said that the Telegram team made Berlin, Germany, its headquarters in 2017 but failed to obtain German residence permits for everyone on the team and moved to other jurisdictions in early 2015. Since 2017, the company has been based in Dubai.

Telegram apps receive monthly updates. In addition, users can report apps’ issues and recommend development ideas on the dedicated “Bugs and Suggestions” platform. Telegram’s default method of authentication for logins is SMS-based single-factor authentication. A one-time passcode sent via SMS to the user’s phone number is required to log into the account by default. Users also have the option to create a password as a form of two-step verification. In addition, Telegram allows groups, bots, and channels with a verified social media or Wikipedia page to be confirmed but not user accounts.