Review of Talk app for Nextcloud

Nextcloud Talk ⧉ is the official add-on for Nextcloud which lets you set up your own private instant messaging, voice and video calling service. It can be used by anyone who is a member on your Nextcloud server, and also by non-members that you can invite through a special link. You can use it through your web browser by just logging into your Nextcloud, or you can install official Nextcloud Talk mobile apps on your phone.

Talk is often included by default on Nextcloud as it is so popular, and if it’s already there you’ll see it at the top of the screen with a Q-shaped icon. If it isn’t there, you can install it yourself by clicking on your profile picture in the top right corner, select Apps and then Featured Apps. Click on “Talk” and then “Enable” or “Download and Enable”.

Nextcloud Talk has really good official mobile apps for Android and iPhone/iPad, you can get them from Google Play ⧉, the App Store ⧉ and F-Droid ⧉. They’re really simple to use: on the iPhone version, click the + icon to start a new conversation and pick who you want to message or call from the list. To call someone, open a conversation with them and click on the 📞 or 🎦 buttons.

You can also set up group conversations and conference calls, and there’s a public conversation option where you can send non-members a website link so they can participate too. Public conversations can be totally public, or password protected.

The voice and video calling works through peer-to-peer, which means the data goes directly from your computer or phone to the people you’re talking with. Your Nextcloud server acts as a sort of connecting service. I managed to get calls working with nice clear sound and video, though on some days it didn’t work at all. The reliability will probably vary greatly depending on how good the participants’ internet connections are at that moment, and it’s probably a good idea to test it out in advance to get an idea of how reliable it will be for you.

There are plans for Nextcloud Talk to federate with other people’s Nextcloud servers, so that you could chat with people on other Nextclouds that you choose to connect to. However, this is not yet possible, and it’s not clear when this would be available.

Overall, this is a really solid add-on for Nextcloud, but its usefulness depends on what you need. If you just want a private chat service where your friends, family or colleagues can hang out without being disturbed, this is very nice indeed. 🌱

Review of Music app for Nextcloud

Screenshot of the Nextcloud Music app as seen through a desktop web browser. There are several album covers visible, and one of the tracks is playing with the lyrics visible and a playing interface with controls etc too.

Music ⧉ is a music player, podcast and internet radio app for Nextcloud, which lets you make your own personal audio streaming service. The service is totally private, so no one else has access to the tracks you load, there are no ads and no tracking.

Once you’ve loaded music files onto your Nextcloud and installed Nextcloud Music, you can then listen to them anywhere through your web browser, or using Android or iPhone apps compatible with the Subsonic or Ampache standards (see the end of this review for a guide to using the apps).

You can install Nextcloud Music by going to your Nextcloud’s Apps section, and then selecting “Multimedia”, it will be there under the name “Music”. (Note that there’s also an “Audio Player” listed but that’s a totally different app.)

You will need to have audio files in order to load them onto your Nextcloud, so it’s suited to people who have offline music collections either ripped from CDs or purchased as DRM-free downloads. It’s very easy to add music, just upload into a folder in Nextcloud Files, then go to the Music app. The Music app will automatically detect any new music you have uploaded in Files.

According to the developers, Music can handle thousands of albums and tens of thousands of tracks, which can be MP3, WAV, M4A, M4B, FLAC, or OGG files. You can import playlists in the M3U, M3U8, and PLS formats. It’s also compatible with

Screenshot of the Nextcloud Music app viewed through a desktop web browser. It is the Podcasts section, showing the image covers and episode lists for a number of different podcasts.

Podcasts can be subscribed to by going to Podcasts, click “…” and then “Add from RSS feed”, then enter the RSS feed address of the podcast you want. If you don’t know the RSS address, you will usually find it listed on the podcast’s own website. Like music, podcasts can be listened to anywhere either by logging onto your Nextcloud through a web browser, or on compatible mobile apps (see guide below).

There’s also support for internet radio, but you will need to know the exact URL of the radio stream, or import a PLS file. To add a radio URL, in the Internet Radio section click “…”, then “+ Add manually” and enter the URL. The app’s internet radio Getting Started instructions link to a third party radio station directory which includes these URLs.

Overall, this is really nice and well in the spirit of growing your own. There are some aspects that could be slightly tricky for non-technical people, such as logging in through the app (see the guide below). Also, you will need to have a collection of audio files and list of podcast addresses, as you’re not going to get the ready-made collection that Spotify, Apple Music etc offer. However, once Nextcloud Music is set up, this is living the dream: no fees, no ads, no tracking, no DRM. There’s no one messing around with your collection or removing tracks because of rights issues. It’s true privacy and independence.

If you want to have your own private music and podcast streaming service, this is definitely worth trying. 🌱

Listening to Nextcloud Music through a mobile app

Nextcloud Music works with Android and iPhone music streaming apps compatible with the widely used Subsonic or Ampache standards. Here’s how to get them working:

1. Install a Subsonic or Ampache app from your phone’s app store. The Music app has an official list of apps ⧉ they have tested, and I can confirm Substreamer for iPhone works too.

2. Once you have your app installed, log into your Nextcloud through the web browser and go to Music.

3. In the Music app, click on the “settings” link in the bottom left corner. Go to the “Ampache and Subsonic” section and click on “Generate API Password”. This will give you the username and password you need to log in.

4. In the same “Ampache and Subsonic” section, find your music collection’s internet address as labelled “Use this address to browse your music collection”. Choose either the Ampache address or Subsonic address, depending on which kind of app you have installed.

5. If you try to log in and the app tells you tokens aren’t supported, try selecting the “legacy login” option if there is one.

6. Once you’ve got the app up and running, it might be worth telling the app to make files available offline, as this will reduce the amount of traffic generated on your Nextcloud server. It will also make your music load instantly, and work even if your phone loses its signal.

7. If your app includes a podcast section, you will be able to listen to your podcasts in the app too.

Review of Forms app for Nextcloud

Forms ⧉ is a free open source app for doing surveys via your Nextcloud. It lets you create a simple form containing many different question types: long text, short text, multiple choice, tickboxes, dropdown menus, dates, or dates with times. Questions can be optional or required.

You can share the survey externally with people who don’t use Nextcloud through a simple link, and they can give responses anonymously without any registration. The page they see is very simple and easy to navigate, and works fine on computers and phones.

Alternatively, you can share the survey internally with specific or all users on your Nextcloud.

Either way, the data stays entirely on your Nextcloud server and doesn’t pass through anyone else. It’s like a privacy-friendly ad-free alternative to Google Forms or SurveyMonkey.

As far as I can tell, there are no limits on the number of responses you can receive. Surveys can be open-ended, or end on certain dates.

Results of surveys are collated in aggregate (with nice bar charts etc), or by individual responses. Survey results can be exported in CSV format if required.

Forms in action:

I clicked “New Form” and started adding questions. There are options for lots of question types and they can be moved around the page or edited by clicking on them…

Screenshot of NextCloud forms app with a form being edited, showing a short text intro, then tickbox questions and then multiple choice radio buttons. There are various options about how to share the form on the sidebar.

…I chose to share the survey as a simple URL without requiring any user registration…

Screenshot of the form from the previous image, but as a simple web page with none of the editing options.

…and as the responses came in I received notifications, and the results were presented within the app itself.

Screenshot of the results section of the Forms app, showing bar charts and aggregated lists of the responses, and an option to see individual respones instead.

There’s not much else I can say about this! It’s easy to use, it’s privacy-friendly and avoids having to use “big tech” services that are often intrusive or expensive. It does the job, the developers are actively maintaining it, and I didn’t notice any bugs.

If you want to do a survey and you own a Nextcloud, this is definitely worth trying out. 🌱

Review of Cookbook app for Nextcloud

Cookbook ⧉ is an incredibly useful free open source app for Nextcloud which lets you grab recipes from all over the internet and assemble your own private cookbook on your Nextcloud site.

You can find Cookbook in the “Organisation” category of your Nextcloud’s Apps section, click on “Download and enable” to install it.

It’s stunningly simple to use, you just paste the URL of a recipe you’ve found and it automatically converts it into a standard-format recipe page. You can then browse the personal cookbook you’ve created, organised by keywords.

Cookbook in action:

First, I found a nice recipe for falafel wraps ⧉ on BBC Good Food…

Screenshot of the BBC Good Food website, showing a recipe for falafel wraps including a text description, instructions, ingredients, photo and various tags.

…then I pasted the falafel recipe’s web address into my Nextcloud Cookbook’s download box and pressed enter…

Screenshot of the Cookbook app on Nextcloud, with the falafel recipe's URL pasted into the recipe download box.

…and that’s it! The recipe appeared to my Nextcloud’s cookbook!

Screenshot of the same recipe as before, but presented within the Nextcloud cookbook app in a standard format.

Cookbook works because a huge number of recipe sites use the standard for categorising recipe information ⧉, which means it is very easy for the information to be understood and formatted correctly by third party apps.

Thanks to Schema, Cookbook is also able to automatically categorise recipes, and you can filter recipes by keywords if you’re looking for specific kinds of food:

Screenshot of Nextcloud Cookbook app, with three recipes visible on the front page and a tag cloud above them allowing recipes to be filtered by keywords.

However, if a recipe site doesn’t support Schema you will need to add its recipes manually by clicking “Create Recipe” (and the same editor can also be used to tweak downloaded recipes).

If you’re out shopping for ingredients, you can access Cookbook through your Nextcloud website, but there are also several dedicated apps for Android which let you check Cookbook on your phone. You can find links to the apps on the Cookbook github page ⧉, or search for them directly in Google Play or F-Droid.

There is a printing option for people who prefer recipes on paper (useful in a messy kitchen etc).

Cookbook has been really well thought-out, and a brilliant example of a tool that has been polished so that it “just works”. If you have any interest in food, and you have a Nextcloud, this app is definitely worth installing. 🌱