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The Greatest App of All Time Day 9: SwiftKey vs. Telegram

Welcome back to Gizmodo’s March Madness bracket challenge to name the greatest app of all time! Yesterday’s lineup was an extremely close race and Read It Later fans put up an admirable fight but with 52 percent of the vote, Twitter goes to the next round. Today, we have a contest between apps for people who like to do things a little differently.

If you’re just tuning in, you can read all about our selection criteria for this historic contest right here. Check out the full bracket of contestants embedded below. And as always, if you think we missed your personal favorite app of all time, yell at us in the comments. Now, let’s get into today’s contestants.

SwiftKey

When Apple first launched the iPhone, its approach to an onscreen keyboard was the beginning of the end for the clicky tactility of the BlackBerry’s physical keys. But for some users, just clicking virtual keys wasn’t enough, they wanted to really merge with the machines. SwiftKey used predictive text and machine learning to guess what you were trying to say as you dragged your finger around the keyboard. For people who could get on the app’s zen wavelength, this was rocket fuel for mobile typing. It was also, for a few years, something that Android users liked to point to as an advantage over the iPhone.

But that didn’t last too long. In 2014, Apple opened up the iPhone to allow third-party keyboard integration and eventually, the Cupertino giant added features to its own keyboard that were similar to SwiftKey. But diehard fans still love the OG.

Telegram

Taking on SwiftKey, we have Telegram, the goth kid of encrypted messaging. Telegram has its fans in the U.S., but like WhatsApp, its biggest audience is outside our borders. It has pulled in around 800 million monthly active users by promoting itself as the most private platform around. While that’s not really true today, its co-founder Pavel Durov was sort of an Elon Musk-style hype man for encrypted messaging in the 2010s and he remains a big defender of free speech.

Today, if your biggest concern is sending a message to someone and feeling safe that it isn’t being monitored, most experts recommend Signal or WhatsApp. But as Telegram added features like Groups and Stories, the app has become something of a hybrid messenger and social network. People use groups for niche hobbies, sharing news about the war in Ukraine, coordinating protests, and more. That’s also brought some controversy as hate groups and extremists became fond of the app thanks to its almost total absence of content moderation.

So, reader, what’ll it be? Are you the kind of person who would have a stroke if you had to use a mobile keyboard the standard way or would you die without your crypto Telegram group?

Here are the nominees. Choose your fighter.
Graphic: Vicky Leta

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