An interesting discussion, albeit one of the 140 character micro splurt variety, this morning about API’s the need for them and the security concerns behind them.
The messaging app Telegram on Android and iOS is similar to other messaging apps. All the usual stuff but with beefed up security, keys, distributed servers and it’s own dubious marketing cartoon character.
The main difference between Telegram and other messaging apps like Whatsapp is that Telegram has an API. The fashion is to have an API for everything whether it’s useful or not. Originally to have an API was to enable mashups of data to show a centralised view of one or more data feeds.
Now the API is the product to enable developers to create another product and it was the thing that really kicked Twitter into focus, timed with the new shiny iPhone apps could be created and we didn’t need the user base, we could pinch someone else’s, for free!
The cherry pick is well under way and over time API’s get tightened up so products can use them under certain conditions.
So my beef with Telegram having an API. Messaging is a core function, a one to one transaction and having a third party able to intercept is still wrong in my book (though we can assume there’s a government agency somewhere in the world looking anyway, if you want a balloon tour of Menwith Hill then I’m sure Mark Thomas may be still arranging them).
Even the iOS API will not let you read SMS messages but only send them. And the hearts and mind of users, not developers, may still not be comfortable with the notion that a third party could read/write messages through the Telegram API. I know the user has the option to say “no” but it’s the sole reason that a peer-to-peer message is still popular (as WhatsApp has proved). What advantage an API in Telegram gives is still unclear to me.
API’s are not a god given right, Paddy’s right in what he says and I respect his opinion completely. Data is money and if you’re the data owner you have a right to yourself and your users to respect privacy to a point. An API for messaging is only there if you are wanting a sharp growth of the user base, as Twitter proved works, but we are all not Twitter.
Seems to me that Telegram are playing catch up to WhatsApp and the others and trying to combine all the good bits from all the existing apps and come up with one good solution, problem is all the users are using the other apps.