Siri Will Now Announce Telegram Messages Through AirPods
A major update to popular, secure messaging service Telegram gives iOS device owners the option to hear Siri read incoming messages on the platform. Apple’s voice assistant will announce and read out messages to Telegram users, but only if they are wearing Apple AirPods or a select variety of Beats headphones. Telegram is the first third-party app to take up the feature, which Apple announced at the virtual WWDC event this year.
The new Telegram feature connects Telegram to Siri’s text-to-speech function on iOS and iPadOS devices. Once enabled, as seen above on a locked device, the voice assistant will alert a user about an incoming Telegram message, who sent it, and the content of the message. After a brief pause, Siri will make the announcement sound again, signaling that it is listening for a reply that it will transcribe and send back. It’s essentially the same experience as the one Apple debuted for the native Messages and Home apps as part of the new iOS 14 in June. The API is out there for any interested developers approved by Apple, but Telegram is the first to take up the offer. Still, it would not be surprising if communication and social media apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat followed suit.
Limiting the announcement of messages, both native and Telegram, to those wearing earbuds and headphones is likely a privacy measure to keep non-recipients from hearing what the message says. Privacy is vital for Telegram since a large part of the app’s appeal is the security of messages sent on the platform. Having those automatically read out loud on a phone’s speaker would somewhat defeat that purpose. Telegram’s willingness to have Siri read its message, even in a limited context, was probably bolstered by how Siri reads out and transcribes text and speech without needing to access the cloud. The whole process happens on the iPhone or iPad, improving the speed Siri responds and how much it shares to Apple’s servers.
The Siri connection was quietly attached to the news that that Telegram is adding always-on group voice chats. Voice chats augment existing communication channels in a way similar to a Discord channel or the Houseparty app that blew up during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic. Users can jump in and out of the voice conversation without it ending or needing to be restarted. Right now, it’s limited to audio, although the company is looking at expanding to video next year. Telegram made a point of saying it’s not the same as a group call, the format Zoom, Google, and Microsoft saw skyrocketing use of in 2020.