Today is a big day. The Nextcloud community is launching a new product and solution called Nextcloud Talk. It’s a full audio/video/chat communication solution which is self hosted, open source and super easy to use and run. This is the result of over 1.5 years of planing and development.
For a long time it was clear to me that the next step for a file sync and share solution like Nextcloud is to have communication and collaboration features build into the same platform. You want to have a group chat with the people you have a group file share with. You want to have a video call with the people while you are collaborative editing a document. You want to call a person directly from within Nextcloud to collaborate and discuss a shared file, a calendar invite, an email or anything else. And you want to do this using the same login, the same contacts and the same server infrastructure and webinterface.
So this is why we announced, at the very beginning of Nextcloud, that we will integrate the Spreed.ME WebRTC solution into Nextcloud. And this is what we did. But it became clear that whats really needed is something that is fully integrated into Nextcloud, easy to run and has more features. So we did a full rewrite the last 1.5 years. This is the result.
Nextcloud Talk can, with one click, be installed on every Nextcloud server. It contains a group chat feature so that people and teams can communicate and collaborate easily. It also has WebRTC video/voice call features including screen-sharing. This can be used for one on one calls, web-meetings or even full webinars. This works in the Web UI but the Nextxloud community also developed completely new Android and iOS apps so it works great on mobile too. Thanks to push notifications, you can actually call someone directly on the phone via Nextcloud or a different phone. So this is essentially a fully open source, self hosted, phone system integrated into Nextcloud. Meeting rooms can be public or private and invites can be sent via the Nextcloud Calendar. All calls are done peer to peer and end to end encrypted.
So what are the differences with WhatsApp Calls, Threema, Signal Calls or the Facebook Messenger?
All parts of Nextcloud Talk are fully Open Source and it is self hosted. So the signalling of the calls are done by your own Nextcloud server. This is unique. All the other mentioned solutions might be encrypted, which is hard to check if the source-code is not open, but they all use one central signalling server. So the people who run the service know all the metadata. Who is calling whom, when, how long and from where. This is not the case with Nextcloud Talk. No metadata is leaked. Another benefit is the full integration into all the other file sharing, communication, groupware and collaboration features of Nextcloud.
So when is it available? The Version 1.0 is available today. The Nextcloud App can be installed with one click from within Nextcloud. But you need the latest Nextcloud 13 beta server for now. The Android and iOS apps are available in the Google and Apple App Stores for free. This is only the first step of course. So if you want to give feedback and contribute then collaborate with the rest of the Nextcloud community.
What are the plans for the future?
There are still parts missing that are planed for future version. We want to expose the Chat feature via an XMPP compatible API so that third party Chat Apps can talk to a Nextcloud Talk server. And we will also integrate chat into our mobile apps. I hope that Desktop chat apps also integrate this natively. for example on KDE and GNOME. This should be relatively easy because of the standard XMPP BOSH protocol. And the last important feature is call federation so that you can call people on different Nextcloud Talk servers.
Thanks a lot to everyone who made this happen. I’m proud that we have such a welcoming, creative and open atmosphere in the Nextcloud community so that such innovative new ideas can grow.