Telegram (iOS, Android) is a free chat and social media app, not unlike WhatsApp and WeChat, that allows users to instantly exchange messages and pics, make hassle-free calls from anywhere in the world, and join channels on various topics, from lifestyle to science. One of the exclusive features that the app offers is a variety of multi-use bots, like GameBot or Skeddy

New features

  • Navigation

If you use Telegram for more than just messaging your family and friends, it can sometimes feel chaotic. Luckily, there are chat folders that can help you sort your life out (erm, your online life, I mean). You can have separate folders for all areas of your life: from family and friends to studies, news, and memes. By doing so, you will be able to navigate through your messages with ease and comfort. Plus, pinned chats (you can have five per each folder!) and messages are great helpers here, too. They can get you where you need and help find the most important info right away.

How-to – chat folders: Settings → Chat Folders

How-to – pinned messages: tap and hold a message/swipe a contact to the right → Pin

  • Appearance

The app offers you multiple ways to let your inner artist out. You’re free to make your chats and channels look however you like. You can pick from various default themes and customize them to your liking or come up with your own style by changing chat backgrounds, colors and patterns, and text size – while different reactions, interactive emojis, and stickers will let you express yourself even more on point. What’s more, you can also get your own personalized QR code to share with your friends. 

How-to – chat theme: Settings → Appearance

How-to – QR code: Settings → the QR code icon in the upper left corner

  • Video

Those who enjoy speaking their hearts out and having their cameras on during online classes/meetings will appreciate video messages on Telegram. Just as with voice messages, videos arrive in the blink of an eye and can be viewed using the picture-in-picture feature. As for other video-related perks, Telegram allows you to launch live streams, as well as one-on-one and group calls. 

How-to: tap on the voice message button in chat

Credit: Adem AY (@ademay) on

Credit: Adem AY (@ademay) on

  • Translation

The app, being available in 19 languages, now boasts a built-in translator, too. Once you activate this feature, you can translate messages in any language you like without leaving the app. You can also exclude certain languages so that this function wouldn’t appear in the pop-up menu for texts, say, in your mother tongue or a language you speak fluently. 

How-to: Settings → Language → Show Translate Button

  • Formatting

It’s no news that you can format text in your outgoing messages on messenger apps. Yet unlike WhatsApp, Telegram lets you enhance what you’re saying not only with bold, italic, strikethrough, and monospace effects but also by underlining it; the app also makes it possible to edit what you’ve already sent, add links to text, and hide some parts of your messages so that the recipients can decide whether they’re ready to see what’s there or not yet. It’s especially good when you want to mask some movie/show spoilers or game results, or just prank your friends. 

How-to: tap and hold the text you want to stylize → BIU 

Channels/bots to check out

ITMO on TG: official university channels in Russian, English, and Spanish as well as channels for students from ITMO’s Student Services Office (in Russian and English) and for university staff from ITMO’s Faculty Support Office (in Russian).

Other great channels: Telegram Tips, BrainGrub, plus a few handy roundups of the best on Telegram for science buffs and knowledge seekers.