It’s time once again for major changes to the ViOffice Cloud, as has already been done several times in the past. The handling of the cloud remains exactly as usual, but there are a number of small improvements and additional functions that can make work easier.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the hype of the moment. There seems to be no tech blog, no IT company and no digitalisation debate without this topic. It is often either completely demonised or presented as the single solution to virtually every problem. Enthusiasm for new (and not so new) IT solutions and belief in technology or transhumanism are not far apart in the public debate.
The public debate about this is of course important and the attempt by European governments and the EU to regulate such technology is absolutely necessary.
We perceive the topic as welcome progress, but it should not necessarily be ascribed the importance that it is given in public in some circles. Nevertheless, several of the new developments in the ViOffice Cloud are related to machine learning or statistical learning, on which AI is based or which are often referred to as AI themselves.
These changes are entirely due to the tireless work of the Nextcloud community, Collabora and the LibreOffice community, and by extension the open source community, of which we are a part.
Nextcloud in particular is working with “ethical AI” to implement privacy-friendly and openly developed approaches to new technologies. As our users are accustomed to, the ViOffice Cloud does not pass on any data to third parties. The carefully selected new functions are all based on the “local AI” approach and run on our own systems. 
New Features in ViOffice Cloud
The security of information transmission and storage is a key factor, especially when it comes to e-mail traffic. Although e-mail is one of the oldest message channels still in use in the digital world, transmitted information is still mostly unencrypted today.
With the new update, the email programme available in the cloud supports the option of encrypting emails using PGP. If you would like to find out more about this topic, you should definitely take a look at the flyer from the Free Software Foundation Europe. 
But that’s not all: ViOffice Cloud now also supports digital email signatures via the S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) protocol to securely identify the sender of an email. 
As a further improvement, users of Microsoft Outlook or Google’s GMail can now connect their mailbox to the ViOffice Cloud email programme much more easily than before. 
All this is accompanied by significant improvements in the speed of the e-mail programme and many little things that make it much easier to use, such as e-mail templates and the new “Smart Picker” for selecting location data, GIFs or other media content and sending it by e-mail. [2, 3]
Users of the Zotero bibliography database will also be pleased about the direct integration into Collabora Online. All you have to do is log in to your Zotero account via the ViOffice Cloud settings and you can immediately access all the entries stored there directly in Collabora Online!
Talk is one of our favourite features of the ViOffice Cloud. A comprehensive, secure and well-integrated chat solution with video conferencing functionality! In addition to small design changes, there are a number of useful new functions!
The previously mentioned smart picker has also found its way here and can be called up immediately and easily by entering “/” in the message bar. Files, deck cards, other Talk chat rooms and much more can then be referenced and created immediately via the Smart Picker. In addition, not only can existing files now be sent, but new files can also be created directly in the chat (for example, a presentation in Collabora Online). [3, 5, 6]
Individual messages from chat participants can now be translated into a variety of languages with a simple click! You can also attach a reminder to a message or create a deck card from it. 
It is now also possible to use virtual backgrounds in video conferences, which can make meetings from the home office much more pleasant, for example. It is also now possible to create sub-rooms (breakout rooms) in meetings, for example to work in small groups before talking together again in a large group. 
As mentioned above, these updates are only possible thanks to the tireless work of the FOSS community and in particular Nextcloud and our partner Collabora Online. Existing ViOffice Cloud users can try out all the new features immediately. For everyone else: now is the perfect time to try out ViOffice! Since autumn this year, we have even been offering completely free access with full functionality. Simply register and get started right away!
- Schneider, M. (2023): Introducing Hub 5: first to deliver self-hosted AI-powered digital workspace. URL: nextcloud.com
- Schneider, M. (2023): Nextcloud Groupware in Hub 4 – Shared mailboxes & updated security. URL: nextcloud.com
- Schneider, M. (2023): Hub 4 pioneers ethical AI integration for a more productive and collaborative future. URL: nextcloud.com
- Obbard, N. (2023): Collabora Online 23.05 Released, Empowering Users with Enhanced Productivity and Collaboration Features. URL: collaboraoffice.com
- Poortvliet, J. (2023): Nextcloud Talk in Hub 4 – next level video chat. URL: nextcloud.com
- Schneider, M. (2023): AI in Nextcloud: what, why and how. URL: nextcloud.com
Jan is co-founder of ViOffice. He is responsible for the technical implementation and maintenance of the software. His interests lie in particular in the areas of security, data protection and encryption.
In addition to his studies in economics, later in applied statistics and his subsequent doctorate, he has years of experience in software development, open source and server administration.