I have been inĀ­volved in a gradĀ­ual process of deĀ­googling (Wikipedia, Reddit) my digĀ­iĀ­tal life.

I conĀ­sidĀ­ered movĀ­ing off my conĀ­tacts and calĀ­enĀ­dar from Google to a loĀ­cally self hosted Nextcloud inĀ­stance, but ļ¬Ā­nally setĀ­tled on a free hosted and manĀ­aged inĀ­stance for reĀ­liĀ­aĀ­bilĀ­ity and peace of mind. This data is critĀ­iĀ­cal and must be alĀ­ways availĀ­able, reĀ­gardĀ­less of the power supĀ­ply in my home server, for exĀ­amĀ­ple.

NextCloud have partenered with many providers for what they call a Simple Sign Up proĀ­ceĀ­dure. You can sign up here, choosĀ­ing whatĀ­ever provider you deem the best for your priĀ­vate use.

I went ahead and signed up for a free hosted soĀ­luĀ­tion with a baĀ­sic size limit which was quite genĀ­erĀ­ous for my needs. Then, I folĀ­lowed the NextCloud app (from Android Play Store) on what to do next.

The app prompted me to inĀ­stall DAVx5 (from the comĀ­muĀ­nity-mainĀ­tained F-Droid store) on my phone to be able to sync conĀ­tacts (via the WebDAV proĀ­toĀ­col). For syncĀ­ing calĀ­enĀ­dar subĀ­scripĀ­tions (via the CalDAV proĀ­toĀ­col), I was prompted to inĀ­stall ICSx5. This is, once again, availĀ­able on the F-Droid store.

You need to set these apĀ­pliĀ­caĀ­tions up beĀ­cause Android doesĀ­nā€™t naĀ­tively supĀ­port WebDAV and CalDAV proĀ­toĀ­cols. They act as a bridge beĀ­tween your conĀ­tacts and calĀ­enĀ­dar apps, and the NextCloud server. They are open proĀ­toĀ­cols, so it reĀ­ally is a bit of a shame that it doesĀ­nā€™t ļ¬gĀ­ure into Android by deĀ­fault.

Endpoint auto-deĀ­tecĀ­tion failĀ­ure

Trying to set up DAVx5 imĀ­meĀ­diĀ­ately threw up erĀ­rors - it could not auto-deĀ­tect the conĀ­ļ¬gĀ­uĀ­raĀ­tion from the server URL alone. A quick search showed me how usĀ­ing a speĀ­ciļ¬c URL as the endĀ­point ofĀ­ten recĀ­tify this isĀ­sue quickly:

https://{mynextcloudservice.com}/remote.php/dav/principals/users/{username}

Conļ¬guring DAVx5 with this URL and inĀ­putting my creĀ­denĀ­tials got me up and runĀ­ning.

You need to keep whatĀ­ever you want to sync ā€œtickedā€ in the app. This caught me off-guard at ļ¬rst, so itā€™s worth a menĀ­tion!

Verdict

Integration with Android and GNOME

Android and Nextcloud look to be in good harĀ­mony and Iā€™m enĀ­joyĀ­ing the exĀ­peĀ­riĀ­ence. In the fuĀ­ture, I would like to move away from my phone venĀ­dorā€™s deĀ­fault phone/ā€‹conĀ­tacts app as well as Googleā€™s calĀ­enĀ­dar app. Suggestions are welĀ­come.

GNOME naĀ­tively supĀ­ports setĀ­ting up a NextCloud acĀ­count, and it was a breeze. Both the Calendar and Contacts app work out of the box.

Bugs that dampen the movĀ­ing exĀ­peĀ­riĀ­ence

This blog post would be disĀ­honĀ­est if I didĀ­nā€™t menĀ­tion that my exĀ­peĀ­riĀ­ence hasĀ­nā€™t been enĀ­tirely bug-free where day-to-day usĀ­age is conĀ­cerned.

  • So many of my conĀ­tactsā€™ where their phone numĀ­bers were specĀ­iĀ­ļ¬ed as ā€œLondonā€ and ā€œTemporary Landlineā€, for exĀ­amĀ­ple, as opĀ­posed to the usual ā€œHomeā€ and ā€œWorkā€, all disĀ­play as just ā€œOtherā€ or ā€œMobileā€ on GNOMEā€™s conĀ­tacts app. Itā€™s not easy to deĀ­ciĀ­pher which ā€œOtherā€ Iā€™m supĀ­poesd to dial when lookĀ­ing through sevĀ­eral numĀ­bers carĀ­ryĀ­ing the same tag. Simple Contacts hanĀ­dles this well just ļ¬ne, so it could be limĀ­ited to GNOMEā€™s imĀ­pleĀ­menĀ­taĀ­tion of it.
  • Many modĀ­ern conĀ­tact apps also alĀ­low you to skip the birth year while inĀ­putting conĀ­tact birthĀ­days. Unfortunately, skipĀ­ping the birth year does not seem to play well with NextCloud/CalDAV. While the date and month still show acĀ­cuĀ­rately, the year ļ¬eld does not. On this front, both GNOMEā€™s Contacts app and Simple Contacts do not deĀ­liver.

I hope to see imĀ­proveĀ­ments in the fuĀ­ture on these fronts to enĀ­courĀ­age more peoĀ­ple to move to priĀ­vacy-friendly soĀ­luĀ­tions.

Last word

All in all, it is still handy beĀ­ing able to acĀ­cess my conĀ­tacts and calĀ­enĀ­dar quickly from the deĀ­fault GNOME apps on my deskĀ­top. I also donā€™t need to babysit this setup on my phone or on my lapĀ­top. Itā€™s nice knowĀ­ing my most perĀ­sonal deĀ­tails are just a litĀ­tle more priĀ­vate. I wouldĀ­nā€™t go back to the old ways!