Messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram are gathering quite a following in the mobile world, but it turns out that there might also be a market on the PC for them.
The PC, regardless of whether it's Linux or Windows-based, is full of messaging apps, so another software that's actually bound to a telephone number doesn't really make a lot of sense. The truth is that people are not using apps like Yahoo Messenger or Pidgin to keep in touch as much as they used to. Lots of people are actually using their phones or mobile devices to perform the same task.
This is where the Telegram service comes in. Some of you might not recognize the name, but this is in fact one of the alternatives that have popped up in the ecosystem after the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook. A lot of other services registered an increase in users and Telegram was one of them.
Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram provides an API that can be easily integrated in other apps, which makes this the ideal candidates for a simple webapp, on Ubuntu for example. While the installation and usage on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is a piece of cake, the larger implication is that Ubuntu Touch might soon get support for Telegram because the OS is capable of running webapps just like its desktop companion.
After the Telegram API was made available, it was just a matter of time until someone figured out that other apps can be built from this. Installing the Telegram app on Ubuntu 13.10 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is easy and requires users to add a PPA:
All you have to do is to enter a few command lines in the terminal (you will need to be root in order for this to work):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:costales/unity-webapps-telegram
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unity-webapps-telegram
The Telegram app will take a while to start, and you will need a phone number to make it work. After you enter the security code, you will be able to see other people in your Contact list who also have the app.
This is still Alpha software, so it lacks a number of important features. For example, adding a new contact doesn't seem to work, and there are no other options for the rest of the existing contacts.
Even if you don't plan on using this on Ubuntu Touch when it becomes available, it's still a nice application to have on the PC. You can check the Launchpad entry for more details about the work of the Telegram Unity Webapp development team.