As the coronavirus pandemic has transformed work and health care services, resulting in more video conferences than ever, secure messaging app Telegram has added video calls to its suite of products.
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The company made the announcement in a blog post that it was adding the alpha version of one-to-one video calls on both its Android and iOS apps.
"All video calls are protected with end-to-end encryption," Telegram wrote in the blog post. "To confirm your connection, compare the four emoji shown on-screen for you and your chat partner – if they match, your call is 100% secured by time-tested encryption also used in Telegram's Secret Chats and Voice Calls."
In the post, Telegram, which ran afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission after a cryptocurrency sale went awry, said that more features and improvements, including group video calls, would be coming in the future.
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The blog post marked the seventh anniversary of the Dubai-based app. In April, Telegram said it surpassed 400 million monthly active users.
The move puts Telegram in direct competition with Apple's FaceTime as well as Zoom, both of which have seen increased usage because of the work-from-home and stay-at-home orders that have been put in place since the pandemic started.
On the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company saw "elevated engagement" on FaceTime, as well as iMessage and Siri during the quarter.
According to Teladoc, a telehealth company, demand for telehealth and telemedicine services is rapidly rising, as patient visit volume spiked in recent months due to the pandemic.
As of Sunday morning, more than 21.49 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed globally, more than 5.3 million of which are in the U.S., the most impacted country in the world.
Shares of Apple and Zoom both closed slightly lower on Friday, falling 0.1% and 0.95% to close at $459.63 and $244.91 per share, respectively.