Last month I wrote up all the reasons I think Telegram is a better messaging app than Apple Messages. After I finished that article I decided to make a tutorial on Telegram for ScreenCastsOnline. This turned out to be quite a bit of a challenge to do in a way that didn’t reveal the private information being conveyed to me in Telegram by my friends and family.
Your Telegram persona is tied directly to your phone number, but you can choose to only reveal your handle to people on the service. I realized that I could use my trusty Google Fi cell card with a different number. One of the best features of Google Fi is that I can pause service for three months at a time (and pause again and again), so I only pay for it when I need it. Google Fi costs are prorated by how many days in a month you use it, and I only needed to turn it on for a few days. You only need the phone number active long enough to install the app and sign in on each device after receiving the SMS message on the phone number.
I created a second persona called @NosillaCast (my main persona is @Podfeet as you would expect). In doing this I discovered that you can have Telegram logged into two accounts at the same time and flip back and forth between them. That was pretty cool.
Next I had to get some people to agree to play with me in my fake account. Steve and Steven Goetz are usually up for some fun, and my friend Diane was also excited to help. J.F. Brissette, my editor for ScreenCastsOnline was just learning about Telegram and volunteered too. The tricky part though was to have them respond at the exact instant I was ready to record their action. I couldn’t sit there for 10 minutes rolling “film”, or have them respond too quickly before I hit record.
That’s when I realized I could talk to myself! Remember I have two personalities, right? I would do the setup as @NosillaCast on the Mac where I was recording, and then I could respond as @Podfeet from my iPad. It worked really well. But then I wanted to demonstrate how well the group features worked, so I gathered the volunteers in a group while recording from @NosillaCast, but then sent them a message from my personal @Podfeet account asking them to respond to an incoming request in some benign way. Didn’t want any funny business, right?
The last tricky bit was trying to demonstrate how you can make audio and video calls within Telegram. Steve was the closest person at hand so he agreed to be in the video tutorial as we chatted.
I expected this to be challenging to pull off for all the reasons above, but I think I pulled it off. If you’d like to see the teaser trailer, I posted a link, but I have to warn you that becoming a member at ScreenCastsOnline is addictive. You get a free 14-day trial but then you’ll want to subscribe after you start watching the vast library of the back catalog. The other screencasters are all terrific so be careful or you’ll get sucked in!