Apple lifts Telegram block

Apple has lifted its alleged block on updates to secure messaging app Telegram, after the company's CEO accused the Cupertino firm of unfairly locking down the software. Pavel Durov, chief exec of Telegram, announced earlier this week that the messaging app had gone more than a month without receiving a single update, blaming Apple's over-zealous reaction to complaints from Russia.

The fate of Telegram in Russia has been complicated of late. The app has proved popular among those who want to escape monitoring and surveillance in their conversations, by using encryption to prevent eavesdropping. For that reason, use of Telegram has become commonplace among dissidents and protest groups, who might otherwise have good reason to be afraid of security forces.

Russia's Federal Security Service, however, didn't see things quite the same way. Telegram is being used by terrorists, it has argued, insisting that the company must hand over the encryption keys so that it could decode any message. Telegram refused, amid accusations from critics of the Russian government that such access would be used to unfairly crack down on legitimate protests, and the Russian courts responded by demanding Apple remove the software from the App Store.

According to Durov, though, Apple's reaction went much further. Earlier this week he announced that Telegram would miss the GDPR deadline, the new European regulations for app and service privacy, because Apple was blocking updates globally. The issue became more broadly noticed after Apple's release of iOS 11.4, which inadvertently broke Telegram's use of stickers.

That's something Telegram's engineers had actually cooked up a fix for "weeks ago," Durov said, but the company had been unable to actually distribute it. Happily for users, Telegram has apparently had a reprieve, at least in the App Store if not in Russia.

Durov took to Twitter to confirm that there was a new update for Telegram available for iOS users. Version 4.8.2, which was released roughly an hour ago at time of publication, updates the app's registration process for GDPR compliance. Those in the UK or EU must be 16 or over to use the messaging app.

There's now control over ceasing updates of contacts from the iPhone to Telegram, and you can delete previously synchronized contacts in the Privacy & Security settings page. "If you enabled link previews in Secret Chats," Telegram says, meanwhile, "you can now disable them in Privacy & Security settings."