Messaging app Telegram has taken a leaf out of Snapchat’s book, adding a slate of new features to its in-app photo editor including selfie masks, trending stickers, and custom GIFs.
The “entertainment-heavy update” includes the implementation of facial-recognition technology that enables the app to identify faces in photographs and use mask meta-data to align to each user’s face.
The technology can only be used on pre-snapped photos, a more basic offering compared to Snapchat’s highly advanced facial-recognition technology which creates a mask on a user’s face that mirrors movement and can obscure facial features.
By comparison the 3-year-old messaging app’s update is more of a sticker set than hi-tech, marking the first time its users can add drawings, masks, stickers and text onto their pictures using the photo editor.
The masks that are available are cartoonish in style, including animal faces, glasses, hats, beards and wigs. Users can create custom masks and upload them to the platform by using the ‘newmasks’ command and Telegram’s @stickers bot.
A further update to the app’s photo editor allows users to create custom GIFs to send in their chats by recording a video, muting it and turning it into a looping GIF. Users can then add emojis, text, and drawings to the GIFs. These personalised GIFs are then saved to the app’s GIF section “so that you can quickly react to anything with a set of your own prerecorded GIF-emotions”.
The messaging app also added a trending stickers tab as it introduces a slate of new stickers to assist in sticker discovery.
The startup announced it had pushed past 100 million monthly active users in February, gaining traction from Whatsapp’s global outage in 2014 and a 48 hour shutdown in Brazil last year. That said, it still has a long way to compete with rival Snapchat, which in June announced 150 million daily active users, surpassing Twitter.
What the messaging app has failed to update is its security features. While it markets itself as a safe and secure messaging app, it is one of a few that doesn’t encrypt chats by default, something the FBI has advocated for and competitor Whatsapp introduced in April.