The Telegram client for Android has been split into two versions, so in addition to having the classic version that you can find in the app store, you also have an installable APK version. This can generate a bit of confusion, and that’s why we’re going to explain what differences you can expect from these two versions just because one of them you can download separately.
We’re going to start by explaining why Telegram says it has made this decision, and we’ll follow up by telling you what becoming independent from the Android app store means for an app. At the moment, this move is just a statement of intent, and there are still no differentiating features between one version and the other, so let’s stick to explaining why and the possibilities that the APK version has.
What is the APK version of Telegram?
Telegram is one of the most popular instant messaging applications out there, and possibly one of WhatsApp’s main competitors. It has a wealth of features, including the ability to create a username so you can be added by it without having to share your phone, or the ability to create groups and communities in which there can be hundreds of users.
Until now, Telegram has always been downloaded on Android via Google Play, the official app store of Google’s operating system. This is a simpler app to install, and it updates directly along with the rest of the apps you have installed with the official store. It is a simple method, although to have it available on Google Play, they have to meet some rules.
The new version of the app is an application that you download directly from its official website, from this specific page. Therefore, it is an application that will not be subject to the conditions of Google Play, which means that in the future there may be some differences in terms of the functions available, or at least this is what they say from Telegram.
Facing the basic user, there are two other differences that you should keep in mind. The first is that, to install this version of Telegram, you will need to know how to install APK applications on Android. It is not difficult, since when you download the file and click on it to launch it, Android will guide you step by step.
The other difference is that Telegram will update independently directly from the app’s servers. This means that the update will not come to you through Google Play, but you will receive a message when you open the app telling you that you need to update it. The process will be simple and almost automatic, but it will mean encountering an update message from time to time.
Why Telegram has done this?
For an app to be available on Google Play, it must abide by Google’s rules, both those that determine which apps have a place or not in the store and those that restrict apps that require special access, such as accessibility or access to SMS and calls.
Also, they are obliged that if they include a payment system, it must be Google’s own. For reasons such as these, games like Fortnite were removed from the app store. App stores also impose restrictions related to moderation and adult content.
In this case, Telegram has not given specific reasons why it has launched this new version and has limited itself to specifying on its website that the version accessible from the APK “has fewer restrictions and receives automatic updates from telegram.org”.
These restrictions could be related to the last thing we mentioned, the moderation policy of the application. Apps like Discord have had some problems in Apple’s App Store because of this very thing. Telegram wants to give freedom to its users, and having to moderate or remove adult content communities would go against this principle.
But it may also be due to other things, such as the obligation to introduce the Google payments system in case Telegram is working on some system to send money. But this is all conjecture that could explain the move, until Telegram does not clarify anything, we can not be sure.
What is clear is that we will have to be attentive to future versions of Telegram, because perhaps in the future we will begin to see more noticeable differences. For example, the call recording app ACR, whose APK version allows recordings to get the caller’s number, something that the Google Play version does not have.