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Stay productive on the go by accessing Gmail and Calendar on your mobile device

You can use the browser-based Google App to check email and calendar or you can use Google Sync to sync your mobile phone's native mail and calendar apps. Either way will keep you in touch and productive.

It is 2011 and your email and calendar are no longer limited to your desktop computer. Our mobile phones, tablets and portable gaming devices allow us to check email, send messages, schedule events, and review our contacts on the go, at any time of the day. If you are a Google Apps users, the two best ways to access your mail, contacts, and calendar are through the browser based Gmail App or by syncing your mobile email client with your Google Apps account.

The latest ComScore report shows that the top three most popular smart phone operating systems are Android, Apple's iOs and RIM (the OS used by Blackberry).

Source: ComScore: Android captures top spot in U.S. smartphone market

This blog post will cover the setup and use of Gmail and Calendar on Android, Apple, and RIM devices but there are instructions for other devices on Google's Mobile website.

The Gmail and Calendar Web App

The fastest way to access your Google Apps messages and calendar events is to open your phone's browser and navigate to m.gmail.com. Sign on with your full username and password and you will have access your mobile formatted Mail, Calendar, Docs, Search, Maps and other application associated with your Google Account.

The web app for mail features fast mailbox search, conversation grouping of messages, and colored label visibility on your messages. You can perform actions on your messages like responding, starring, forwarding, labeling, archiving and deleting. You cannot add attachments but you can view most attachment files in the browser.

Source: Gmail for mobile

You can also view your calendar in the browser by going to calendar.google.com or selecting the Calendar tab at the top of your Gmail app. By using the Calendar in your mobile browser you can view your schedule, create events, invite guest and respond to event invitations. You can also display multiple calendars which you have been given access to, with each calendar appearing as separate colored blocks.

If you use the Mail and Calendar web apps regularly, save the link as an icon on your home-screen for quick access.

What's good about the Browser App

Using the browser app is by far the easiest way to connect to your mail and calendar. The only setup involved is signing in with your username and password. This user interface is especially nice on the Android and Apple devices. The "floaty bar" which follows the users as they move through their messages is a great new feature.

Source: Gmail for mobile

A recent release of the UI even incorporates Google Plus into the mobile apps experience. Of course, Google Plus it not yet available to Google Apps users, but once it is, this integration will be helpful.

If a friend needs to check their Google account on your phone it's easy to let them sign in via the browser app.

Drawbacks of the Browser App

The major drawback of the browser app is that it does not render the same on all mobile devices and operating systems. The interface is great for Android or Apple devices but it's limited for Blackberry, Nokia and Windows devices. If you do not have an Android or Apple device, you cannot add labels or access the priority inbox.

There are also no push notifications or alerts about new messages. This is a blessing for some people who have the discipline to check their email once or twice a day, but can be troubling for those who like instant email gratification.

The other important drawback is that you can only be signed into one account at a time. If you have multiple email accounts, it is recommended that you use IMAP or GoogleSync to connect your accounts via your phone's mail client.

Google Sync

If you want to sync your phone's native web client, calendar and contact book with your Google Mail and Calendar account then Google Sync is for you. The data that syncs differs depending on the device you are using.

If you have an iPhone you can sync your mail, contacts, calendar events, as well as turn on Push notification. This sync feature is built into Android devices, enter your Google account and password upon phone setup and your mail, contacts and calendar will be automatically synced. BlackBerry users can use the sync tool for sync contacts and mail, but need to setup IMAP connection for their mail.

Google Sync video

Fun fact, Google Sync actually uses the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol to connect to your messages, events and contacts.

What's good about Google Sync

Google Sync instantly syncs your phone's email application, calendar and contacts with your Google Account. You can receive push notification so you instantly know when you receive a new email or have been invited to a new event via Google Calendar. You do not need to be online or have a 3G connection to view your data if you setup Google Sync.

Although you can only manage one account using the Google Sync protocol, you can connect other accounts to your device using IMAP. This way you can manage your personal messages and your work messages using your device's calendar and mail.

There is a lot of development going into GoogleSync, many of the bugs and known issues of the past year have been remedied.

What's bad about Google Sync

If you are using Google Apps for Business your administrator can disable Google Sync for your domain.

GoogleSync is still in beta, many of the bugs have been resolved recently, but some still remain. Many of these issues involve the behavior of deleted messages, access to secondary calendars, and repeating event issues. You can read about the Known Issues for your operating system by going to the setup page for your device.

Setting up Google Sync

To set up Google Sync, follow the specific instructions listed for your device. Remember to enter your full Google Apps email when asked for a username.

The best of both worlds

You are not restricted from using both the web application and Google Sync to access your Google Account. Perhaps you want to use the web app when you are online, and then use Google Sync to access your content when you don't have a connection.

Also read:

About

Susan Cline is the Director of Training and Change Management at Google Apps Parter Ltech. She is also the author of several Google Apps courses on Lynda.com. Visit Susan at her website http://susancline.com/ or follow her on Twitter @GoogleAppsSusa...

6 comments
technomom_z
technomom_z

Tech Republic's huge Apple bias is obvious here. You completely missed the most superior mobile Google experience with Android. Most Android phones come with Google applications for mail, calendar, and contacts already included and already linked to your phone as soon as you register your gmail address with it. You don't need to suffer with error prone sync or inconsistent and slow browser apps. Your contacts, mail, calendar and yes, even your music are all there instantly, accessible through your phone's built-in calendar, contacts, and email/GMail apps on the Google cloud. The experience going from desktop to phone is completely seamless. Add a calendar item from your phone and it will show up on your desktop instantly. Note: If you WANT to sync your phone's local contacts with Google, you can. But why go through that trouble? By keeping it all on Google's cloud, you can move to your next phone without the hassle of backup or re-sync. Perhaps next time you write an article for Tech Republic, you'll do more than 5 minutes worth of research on the subject?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

How do you access your Google Mail and Calendar on your mobile device? Have you tried Google Sync?

susancline
susancline

Technomom, Thanks for your comment! You are absolutely right. Using Google apps on the Android is a piece of cake. I do have an an Android phone and an iPhone. This article was meant to be helpful for people who do not have the simplicity of setting up their google apps with an Android. On second review, I should have ben more clear on how easy it is to use Google Apps with the Android.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Aren't those "built-in" apps just shortcut links to the proper m.google.com area? I guess that saves about 5 minutes of setup, but hardly constitutes bias.

susancline
susancline

Hi Mark, Yes, you can either use the built in apps for the Android or you can open the browser and use the browser apps. Not everyone likes to have their email attached to their phone, but sometimes they want to login and check email via the browser.

technomom_z
technomom_z

No, no, no. They are absolutely NOT just shortcut links. On the iPhone they might be but NOT on Android. That is why it is so obvious that the article is not well researched and was written by an iPhone user who has never, apparantly, used an Android phone. Android comes with actual full on calendar and mail apps so that you don't have to scroll plus there are dozens of other alternatives apps you can download that front-end your calendar/contacts/email but use the data stored in the Google cloud. Not to mention that Androids also come with calendar and mail widgets so that you can see your email and calendar agenda at a glance right on your home screen without scrolling through pages of icons.

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