Telegram has announced it will be migrating iOS users of its messaging app to a rebuilt-from-scratch Swift version.
It’s been running two versions of its app in parallel on iOS and Android during 2018 — officially announcing Telegram X in January, when it billed it as an experiment and said the alternative app “may or may not eventually replace the existing official apps”.
Well, that maybe has now become a certainty — at least on iOS.
In a post on his Telegram channel, founder Pavel Durov says the company will be replacing the iOS app with the Swift rebuild “within the next week or two”.
“As a result, Telegram will become faster, slicker and more efficient,” he writes. “Since it will rely on an entirely new codebase, some minor bugs and glitches might occur, but we’ll make sure they are quickly — or should I say “swiftly” — fixed.”
“This change will make Telegram the most popular messaging app written fully in Swift. Some would say it’s a big risk, but I think somebody has to take such risks and be the first to implement new technologies, such as e2e [end-to-end] encryption — or Swift,” adds Durov.
At the time of writing, the original Telegram iOS app and the Telegram X rebuild are both currently still available for download in the App Store.
It’s not clear whether Telegram will also be entirely replacing the Android app with the Telegram X Android version (or not). Nor what the iOS switch will mean for Telegram users running the app on a version of Apple’s mobile OS that doesn’t support Swift apps (iOS 6 or earlier).
Telegram may well be calculating that only a very small few number of its iOS users are likely that far behind on iOS updates. (Whereas the Android ecosystem is far more fragmented.)
Also unclear: Whether or not Telegram plans to open source Telegram X code.
It has open sourced Telegram client-side code in the past but has also faced criticism for not immediately publishing the most recent versions and for not open sourcing server-side code. (Though in an FAQ it still makes the claim that: “All code will be released eventually.”)
We’ve reached out to the company with additional questions about the switch to Telegram X and will update this post with any response.
In the current App Store description for Telegram X the iOS app is billed as “an alternative Telegram client built in Swift, with higher speed, slicker animations, themes and more efficient battery use”.
The Swift rebuild, which has been available on the App Store since January, has a 4.0 (out of 5) star rating — with reviewers lauding its faster speed but also reporting a few bugs and/or complaining about some missing features.