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  • GMail Push Using Google Sync

    image via Google

    I'm a heavy Google products user. Though I sort of instinctively mistrust the way Google is becoming more and more sort of a SkyNet with its tentacles into everything (Google Shopping? really?), I do move around a fair amount for my work, and so it's really useful for me to have easy access to my docs, calendar and email, etc. from anywhere I can get connected.

    Back in February, we got "Google Sync," which used Microsoft ActiveSync technology to keep your Google and iPhone contacts and calendars synchronized. And more recently, the folks at the Googleplex have extended that to enable push Gmail on your iPhone. I decided to give it a try.

    Google suggests that you begin by doing an iTunes sync of your phone so your data is backed up. This is an excellent idea, as you'll see.

    To set up Google Sync, you just need to add a Microsoft Exchange account in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen under Settings (note: you can only add one Exchange account, so if you already have one on your phone, you can't take advantage of this hack). Put your full [email protected] address under Email, and leave Domain blank, and enter your full email address again under Username. Enter your password and tap Next.

    Google says you may see an Unable to Verify Certificate warning if you use "googlemail.com," but I use gmail.com and i saw it anyway... and I also see it again every time I go on a different WiFi network. If you see this warning, click Accept, and a Server field will appear on the Exchange setup screen: enter m.google.com and tap Next.



    The next screen will allow you to choose which Google services you want to keep synced, and whether you want to delete your existing Contacts or keep them on your iPhone. I chose to keep mine so I could evaluate what I got and what had changed.




    When the sync completed, I checked my Contacts list. My friends' Google pictures were also imported with their contact info, which was kind of cool (but of questionable usefulness: I know what my friends look like!), which was an easy way to tell what was Google and what was original I realized that some of my duplicated contacts had information split across them: email address on the Google Sync import, phone number on the iPhone contact.

    What I did to clean it up was revert to my original, backed up Contacts list in iTunes, and selected the "Sync Google Contacts" option under the Info tab. This gave me the option to merge my existing contact information with what I had on Google.



    To enable push notification, then, all you have to do is set the “Fetch New Data” option under Mail, Contacts, Calendars to “Push."

    The real-time notifications are cool, and I like the fact that Google Sync keeps my data consistent on all the various devices (my MacBook, my ThinkPad, and my iPhone) I use throughout my work and personal life. Unfortunately, though, the power draw of this feature, combined with what appear to be very real ongoing iPhone battery issues, make it impractical to keep this function on all the time. Just in standby mode, no calls or anything, my battery was down to half by the evening.

    If the power issue is resolved, Google Sync is a really handy tool for keeping your contact and calendar info organized. As it is, though, it makes me have to be too aware of my battery status to be more than a nuisance, and having to intentionally enable and disable the function pretty much defeats the purpose of a background sync.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: GMail Push Using Google Sync started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      Could you go into a little more detail on how you reverted back to your non-synced contacts, and then merged using iTunes?

      I'm assuming you restored to a previous backup in iTunes and then checked the Google Sync box under the Info tab, but if you reverted back to before you added the account, seems to me that the Google mail account you'd added would be gone.. wouldn't it?

      also, first
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      interesting stuff there. i could get away with the battery life issue because i always keep a spare usb cable with me to charge through my laptop while at work. But i still prefer using the regular mail app on the iPhone.
    1. Paul Daniel Ash's Avatar
      Paul Daniel Ash -
      reanimation, I did have to revert back to before I added the account, but it's pretty quick and easy to do. If I'd thought it through before I started (but where's the fun in that?) I'd have figured out ahead of time that I'd run into that problem.
    1. billchase2's Avatar
      billchase2 -
      It's too bad you can only use one Exchange account. I'd be all over this... perhaps some day.
    1. oo3's Avatar
      oo3 -
      I combine my push gmail with the gpush push notification app. I love it because the push notification shows me a preview of the email so I can choose to check it or not.
    1. andygev35's Avatar
      andygev35 -
      This DOES use the regular mail app. It just uses a Microsoft exchange account.
    1. RessayFlex's Avatar
      RessayFlex -
      So... we keep hearing that you can only have 1 exhange account on the iphone. i have had many windows mobile phones in the past, and they could also only have 1 exchange account...

      However, if that were really true for the iphone, then how can i have MobileMe AND exchange at the same time (which i do). Doesn't mobile me use the ActiveSync protocol??

      How nice would it be, if someone could hack the way MobileMe is set up and let us put our own servers (instead of the mobileme) server to gain access to 2 mail accounts using ActiveSync at the same time.

      Just a thought...
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      I did try Google Sync. Gmail push doesn't work very well. But Google Sync is still in the beta face.
    1. vkzawa's Avatar
      vkzawa -
      Quote Originally Posted by RessayFlex View Post
      So... we keep hearing that you can only have 1 exhange account on the iphone. i have had many windows mobile phones in the past, and they could also only have 1 exchange account...

      However, if that were really true for the iphone, then how can i have MobileMe AND exchange at the same time (which i do). Doesn't mobile me use the ActiveSync protocol??

      How nice would it be, if someone could hack the way MobileMe is set up and let us put our own servers (instead of the mobileme) server to gain access to 2 mail accounts using ActiveSync at the same time.

      Just a thought...
      Is it in a .plist somewhere on the phone? This might be easy to do.
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by andygev35 View Post
      This DOES use the regular mail app. It just uses a Microsoft exchange account.
      oh ok gotcha! maybe i'll try it out then.
    1. Go Gators's Avatar
      Go Gators -
      I set this up a couple of days ago and it works perfectly! I was using the GPush app and wasn't really happy with it. What I like most is that it still uses the default mail app. I sent myself an email from another email account I have and within 1-2 seconds the mail app on my iPhone displayed the new email. It works great and I definitely recommend it.
    1. metaljay's Avatar
      metaljay -
      seems to miss alot of my emails (even if 'no limit' is set.)
      also creates folders for drafts etc
    1. etaxero's Avatar
      etaxero -
      I have been syncing my contacts and calendars with this since its release but I'm definitely happy to have my email pushed as well now.

      The only thing that has always annoyed me about it though is that your contact labels are not custom anymore.
    1. Lecram25's Avatar
      Lecram25 -
      Any way to sync my current calendar events from my iPhone to Google calendars?

      Also, any idea why mail that I delete from the newly-created Google Sync account doesn't go into the "Trash" (nor does it show up in the trash at gmail.com)? The only way to find it is through "All Mail" (PITA).

      While I understand that I deleted the mail, I never truly delete any mail that is in my trash as I always like the idea that I can dig through it again at a later stage.
    1. Riviera's Avatar
      Riviera -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lecram25 View Post
      Anyway to sync my current calendar events from my iPhone to Google calendars?
      I don't think it will work.

      I like how google calendar sends me text to remind me of the upcoming even on the due date.
    1. ~Steve Jobs~'s Avatar
      ~Steve Jobs~ -
      ive been using this for months now... works great....
    1. cpeterso87's Avatar
      cpeterso87 -
      Quote Originally Posted by RessayFlex View Post
      So... we keep hearing that you can only have 1 exhange account on the iphone. i have had many windows mobile phones in the past, and they could also only have 1 exchange account...
      The reason that mobile devices typically only support a single exchange account is because of the ability for the administrator of the exchange server to impose policy settings onto your device when you sync. The complexities of the device trying to arbitrate multiple, potentially conflicting policy settings was just too messy. Remember exchange integration is intended for enterprise scenarios where the administrator has complete ownership of the data you're syncing.

      Not sure if MobileMe uses exchange sync technology or not, but if it does my guess would be that the way they got around the issue above was for MobileMe to impose no policy settings at all, thereby always allowing an exchange account to have complete administrative control over the exchange sync policies.
    1. sinX's Avatar
      sinX -
      Quote Originally Posted by hollow0 View Post
      interesting stuff there. i could get away with the battery life issue because i always keep a spare usb cable with me to charge through my laptop while at work. But i still prefer using the regular mail app on the iPhone.
      Um.... This is the regular mail
      app just with gmail setup as push.
    1. andygev35's Avatar
      andygev35 -
      You can use Sync-in-a-Blink to sync your contacts and calendar events to Google before setting up your Exchange account. That way you won't lose anything.
    1. Carlosreef's Avatar
      Carlosreef -
      Because of the battery drain, I wish there was a quick way (sbsettings toggle) to turn on/off Gmail push!

      I also use my iphone as an alarm at night so having push notifications in the middle of the night was not working too well for me... hehehe