Nextcloud Advances with Mobile Moves
The extremely popular ownCloud open source file-sharing and storage platform for building private clouds has been much in the news lately. CTO and founder of ownCloud Frank Karlitschek resigned from the company a few months ago. His open letter announcing the move pointed to possible friction created as ownCloud moved forward as a commercial entity as opposed to a solely community focused, open source project.
Karlitschek had a plan, though. He is now out with a fork of ownCloud called Nextcloud, and we've reported on strong signs that this cloud platform has a bright future. In recent months, the company has continued to advance Nextcloud. Along with Canonical and Western Digital, the partners have launched an Ubuntu Core Linux-based cloud storage and Internet of Things device called Nextcloud Box, which we covered here. Now, Nextcloud has moved forward with some updates to its mobile strategy. Here are details.
The company continues to improve the Nextcloud mobile apps. After the Android client introduced major features during the Nextcloud Conference, the iOS team worked hard to also bring a slew of improvements to their app. There is an update on the latest iOS version here.
These mobile apps, of course, mean that you can access and sync files on the go. According to Nextcloud: “We [have]introduced a number of UI changes, like a light grey bar on the icons and simplified information under the file name where now you can see the loading date followed either by an empty dot (meaning picture has not been loaded by cloud) or by a full dot (meaning picture has been loaded by cloud on the phone memory), followed by the file dimensions. System messages have also been reworked and are much more clear now.”
You can watch a video of the iOS app here.
By the way, Karlitschek has also written a compelling blog post in which he notes that the pervasiveness of cloud computing has created some problems. Here is a notable excerpt:
"Nowadays we are storing more and more of our information in the cloud. And with cloud I mean on a machine that is located somewhere on the internet instead of the local disk...So why is this a problem you might ask? Isn’t is convenient that someone else is managing the infrastructure, software and storage? Unfortunately there are significant problems with giving up full control over our data. Well known examples are privacy problems, potential espionage threats, price and performance issues. But there are more that are not discussed often enough. It is essential for bigger companies to integrate these cloud services in to existing authentication, audition, storage, backup and other systems. Another drawback is that in such a world of centralized cloud services it becomes very difficult for smaller startups to innovate and disrupt existing cloud companies. The only choice companies, startups and open source projects have to innovate is to build on top of existing platforms because they are no longer in control of the full stack."
He suggests the following as the solution, and the future of Nextcloud:
"We want to fix the world's data and communication problem to have security and privacy. With this kind of infrastructure we bring the capabilities of the internet to a new level and make sure that it stays secure, safe, open and private."
"This is what Nextcloud builds. It is important for us to do this with the right architecture. It is key to implement this in the right way. The goals here are:
Secure. Obviously it is key to have Nextcloud absolutely secure so that no user data is at risk. So all our code and protocols have to be build with privacy and security in mind.
Easy to install, run and upgrade. The goal of Nextcloud is that it is super easy to install, even without deep Linux knowledge. Also upgrading should be very easy and robust.
Scalable. A lot of users install Nextcloud on small home servers. But it is super important that the architecture also scales to millions of users. We need to provide a solution for the universities, big companies and governments as I mentioned above. This is something we alway have to consider, keep and mind and test.
Easy to use. The usability and user experience are key goals. There are enough other software projects that can do technically similar things but users like Nextcloud because it is actually easy to use.
Cross platform. Accessing and using Nextcloud should be possible from all operating systems and devices.