Google Sync now supports Mail on the iPhone

I became a Google Sync user awhile ago when they released support for over the air calendar syncing from the iPhone.  It has worked well and I've had no issues with it.  At the same time, and actually before using Google Sync, I have been using the built-in Mail app on the iPhone to access my Gmail account which treats it like an IMAP server and this too has worked well.  As Google Sync didn't support mail, this meant configuring two accounts, one for calendar and one for mail, but you do that once and then you are all set.

I was interested then when Google announced today that Google Sync was adding mail support, and especially push mail support for Gmail.  Now, I have to be honest that I'm perfectly happy with my current setup and in fact am leery of adding anything with push as it is likely to impact battery life and we all know that under heavy use the battery on an iPhone is not its strongest point.  And I'm not really losing anything without push as I get enough e-mail that my phone would be going "ding" all the time and because I get enough mail, I don't really need a notification to know I have new messages so I just go run the app and let it download the messages then and I'm set.  The few seconds spent downloading is well worth not taxing the battery.  But I decided to give it a shot anyway as I can always turn push off and have the optimization of a single account to configure and manage.

So I followed the instructions, deleting my existing Gmail account then going to the settings for the Google Sync account and turning on mail syncing.  Worked great, that is until I went to try to look at my mail.  I immediately get a message saying unable to connect to the server and no messages are listed.  I try again a few times and same result.  After waiting a bit and trying again, it finally works and I can see the messages just like I could previously.  So what, I had that before and while I now have a single account to manage, lets see if push really works as that would be the perk of having this.

I make sure push is turned on, get back to the iPhone's Home screen and send myself an e-mail from another account.  I stare closely at the Mail app to see the unread message count go up and listen for the ding, but nothing.  I wait 30 seconds and nothing.  A minute and nothing.  In the meantime in the web interface on my laptop I saw the message arrive about 5 seconds after sending.  "What's up?" I ask.  I again run the Mail app and get the connection error again.  So I give up for the time being.

An hour or two later I gave it another shot and this time there is a friendly "ding" and the message count jumps up, ... but by 3?  I look at the web interface and only my test message arrived so that doesn't make sense.  So I run the Mail app to see what the three messages are.  To my surprise when I go to my Inbox the Mail app doesn't show me any new messages and proceeds to try to connect to download them.  Huh?  I thought I had push?

I suspect that the failure to connects and perhaps other issues are caused by Google's servers being overloaded, so I may try again later.  But to test the theory out I turn mail off on the Google Sync account and recreate my old Gmail account.  When I use it, the Mail app connects quickly and downloads 200 messages in seconds.  Hmmm, so either it isn't the servers, or the more likely explanation is that the "Exchange" servers supporting the push and syncing are overloaded but the standard servers for serving up POP and IMAP are working just fine.

For me, I'll just stick with my 2 accounts and no push for now.  I may try the push again later when Google figures things out.

But what is your experience?  Have you successfully gotten push working from Gmail on the iPhone?  Post your comments!

Comments:

Still waiting for that initial sync to complete. :-D It is way too slow at the moment.

Posted by sLoPPydrive on September 22, 2009 at 07:41 AM PDT #

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