My setup for a seamless Gmail / Google Calendar setup on iOS 5

Discussion in 'iOS 5 and earlier' started by Fisslefink, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. Fisslefink, Jan 3, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012

    Fisslefink macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010
    Finally, you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to Gmail on the iPhone. With the introduction of iCloud, Apple decided not to play nice with Gmail. This was a strategic move on their part -- if you use an email address (part of iCloud) then everything Just Works. But who wants to ditch their beloved Gmail address?

    The problem is this: Depending on how you set up your Gmail account on your iPhone, you can only have some of features, but never all of the features. There are many threads here on MacRumors and on the Apple forums with users who are upset about their Gmail experience in iOS 5. Often these complaints are as simple as "why doesn't archive work?" or "why won't push notifications work?", but the bigger issue is that the Gmail experience on the iPhone is not seamless. Depending on the method you used to set up Gmail on your phone, you will see different features:

    • IMAP method (i.e. click "Gmail" when adding a new email account):
    • The ability to archive and flag ('star') emails directly in the mail app
    • New messages appear in Notification Center every 15 minutes
    • Instantaneous Push notifications
    • New messages appear in Notification Center instantaneously
    • Sync contacts
    • Ability to select custom calendar colors
    • Either method:
    • Send and receive emails
    • Sync calendars from Google Calendar

    There is a solution, but it takes a bit of configuration to get things working smoothly. Thanks to the new Gmail app for iPhone you can do all of the fun Gmail stuff (stars, labels, muting, archiving). You can also use Gmail's powerful searches. Unfortunately, this app does not work with Notification Center, but there is a workaround.

    After much experimentation, I'd recommend the following setup:

    • Install the Gmail app from here
    • Set up Gmail with the Exchange method (i.e. set up "Microsoft Exchange" as described here).
    • Mail ON
    • Contacts ON
    • Calendars ON (edited Feb 6, 2012 -- sorry, this used to say "Off")
    • Sync 3 days
    • Push Inbox
    • iCloud settings
    • Mail = OFF
    • Contacts = ON
    • Calendars = OFF
    • Reminders = ON
    • Bookmarks = ON
    • Notes = OFF
    • Photo stream = ON
    • Documents & Data = ON
    • Find my phone = ON
    • Enable Mail notifications via Push (Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars --> Fetch New Data)
    • Push ON
    • Fetch Manually
    • Turn on mail notifications in the Notification Center (Settings --> Notifications --> Mail).
    • Alerts: Banner
    • Previews ON
    • Badge App Icon OFF
    • Show in lock screen ON
    • Turn off notification center for the Gmail app (Settings --> Notifications --> Gmail). *see note below*
    • Notification Center OFF
    • Badge App Icon ON
    • Sounds OFF (turn on if you want your phone to buzz every time you get a message)
    • View in lock screen OFF
    • Use the Gmail app for everything email-related. Put it in the bottom bar on the home screen, and hide your Mail app in a folder somewhere.
    • If you use multiple Google calendars, you must configure them to sync with the Calendar app by enabling them for your device here.

    With the setup described here, new mail produces an instantaneous notification with an entry in the Notification center. It shows a banner on the display if you are using the phone. It updates the badge on the Gmail icon with the number of unread messages. The Gmail app allows you to do all of the snazzy Gmail stuff (searching, archiving, labels, etc.)

    This is my personal solution -- I'm documenting it here as much for my own recollection as to hopefully help others. If this helped you, or if I missed a step, or if you have your own solution, please post below.

    *Note: Currently, the Google Gmail app for iPhone does not support notification center. If/when they ever add this functionality, new mail notifications on the lock screen will be directed to the Gmail app instead of the Mail app. As of today (January 3, 2012), this is not yet the case.
  2. TLewis macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2007
    left coast, US
    I basically do something similar, but with the gmail web interface instead of the app. Unless you need offline access (I don't), there's really no point to the app, as the app only supports one account -- with the web interface, you can be logged into multiple google accounts at the same time.

    Edit: wait, I don't think the app supports offline access. Anyone know?
  3. Sc00tr macrumors regular

    May 28, 2011
    I just use boxcar

    I set up my gmail with exchange. I set up a rule in gmail to forward all my email to boxcar. boxcar sends me a push notification.
  4. TLewis macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2007
    left coast, US
    Why are you using boxcar since you're already using google sync? Gmail with exchange already gives you push. You're probably needlessly exposing your email by forwarding them to boxcar.
  5. Fisslefink thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010
    Good point about multiple logins, TLewis. I only use one Gmail account, so I hadn't thought about that as a feature.

    Sc00tr, I agree with TLewis that if your Gmail is set up using Exchange, you should get instantaneous push notifications already. In fact, that's pretty much the point of my post (Exchange's push notifications + Gmail app = happy camper). Boxcar is only slowing things down.

    TLewis, you asked about offline access. The Gmail app seems to cache the last 3 days of message headers and previews, but not the content of the messages. The Mail app is still working in the background, though, so if you needed to access an offline email, it would still be there. Like the Mail app, the Gmail app does allow composing drafts and sending messages while offline (sent messages are stored in an Outbox and synced when you open the app while online). There doesn't appear to be a way to access the Outbox though, so you'd better be sure when you click "Send". Offline drafts are stored in Drafts and then synced when you go back online. Searches don't work offline.
  6. RanJuan macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2010
    Swipe to unlock

    Thanks for your write-up... the biggest issue I see with this method is that while I get a notification of an email on my lock screen, that notification is obviously from the Mail app (since the Gmail app doesn't support notifications yet) and so when I swipe to unlock, the iPhone opens up the Mail app to show me the email. Then I need to close out of the Mail app and open the Gmail app since that's the app I'd like to be using.

    Is this just a major annoyance that you are living with? Or have you found a way around this too?

  7. Fisslefink thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010

    Agreed -- that is annoying. I'm just living with it for now. When the push notification comes in, the display of the phone lights up and the normal "Slide to unlock" bar actually redirects you to the mail app. You can either tap the Lock button twice and it will go back to normal "Slide to Unlock", or just wait for the notification to expire (~5 seconds). Either way, it's not quite as nice as just jumping straight to the mail app.

    I have a 4S, so at the moment, jailbreaking isn't an option for me yet. Once it's jailbroken, I imagine there will be a way to redirect it.

    So, not quite seamless I guess :/


    Update: A few days ago I switched to using Exchange for my calendars. It takes a little more work to enable them ( if you have multiple calendars, you have to turn on syncing for each calendar at )

    I like it because it allows you to choose the color of each calendar, while the Gmail IMAP setup forces a color on you. I know, trivial.

    I also feel like it may be updating faster, but that could be my imagination.

    I'll edit the main post to reflect this change.
  8. RanJuan macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2010
    Double clicking the home button just changes "slide to read" to "read" next to the camera button. It still takes me into Mail to read the message. =(

    The other way does work like you said, waiting ~5 seconds for it to change from "slide to read" to "slide to unlock"

    (also on a 4S)
  9. Fisslefink thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010
    Try double-clicking the Lock button?
  10. aussiechrisg macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2012
  11. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I've got my Gmail set up via Exchange, and while I can't choose between delete and archive, I can still flag/star emails with the built-in iOS email app (on iOS 5).
  12. rowley macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2008
    London, UK
    It' set to delete, so to archive, you can just move the email to "All Mail", a couple of clicks rather than just one.
  13. kronborg macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2011
    Just a side note, but for me it's the other way around. The colors match when the account is set up via the Gmail-option (CalDAV), but not when set up via Exchange. It was one of the (small) reasons why I switched to iCloud's calendar - to get push calendars with proper color support.
  14. Lava Lamp Freak macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2006
    Actually it's opposite of that. When Gmail is set up using Exchange, it will archive a message and not delete it. You have to use the Gmail app to delete a message.

    I'm looking forward to the Sparrow app for iPhone. Hopefully it will be the solution we've all been looking for.
  15. rowley macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2008
    London, UK
    Yes, sorry my bad - I usually use gmail using imap, not exchange.

  16. RanJuan macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2010
    One thing you can do from the lock screen when an email comes in is hit the power button on the top of the iPhone to turn the screen back to dark, then hit the home button and the slider will unlock the phone instead of going directly into Mail to read the message.
  17. yblinx macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2012
  18. TheOriginalKi macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2011
    Folks, FYI, when using exchange:

    To change the delete button from archiving to delete, you can visit from the iOS browser (this will not work from the desktop) and chose the setting for “Delete email as trash”. Once enabled, the delete button on iOS Mail app will now move the message to Trash instead of archiving it.

    Thanks to spidertaker23 for this.

    Now you can delete with the trash can icon AND using the same setup, archive by moving things to the all mail folder. Finally!
  19. wizardchef macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2012
    OK. The Google mail ap seems to work OK but I am still having problems syncing my calendar. The iPad and iPhone seem to read the Google calendar OK, but the new events posted on either don't seem to get sent to the Google calendar. ???

    Also, what should the iCloud setting be for the setup recommended on this thread? I assume "off" on mail, contacts, and calendar??


    I don't understand the calendar setup. If I turn the calendar "off" in the setup I don't get any events on the ePhone calendar. Are you saying to download the Google calendar and use it?? Please give specifics on setting the calendar up again, and also .. what about iCloud settings? I turned them off for calendar, mail, and contacts. Is that correct?
  20. Fisslefink thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010
    Sorry, all of your questions are now answered in the top post. The calendars issue was my mistake. As for iCloud, I have the following setup:

    Mail = OFF
    Contacts = ON
    Calendars = OFF
    Reminders = ON
    Bookmarks = ON
    Notes = OFF
    Photo stream = ON
    Documents & Data = ON
    Find my phone = ON
  21. nathanl macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2012
    another difference between exchange and imap

    Another difference I've noticed between setting gmail up using exchange vs imap is:

    Under IMAP: can set up to 2 alerts for any given event
    Under Exchange: can only set up 1 alert for an event

    Has anyone else noticed this? Do you know if there's a way to set up a second alert in Exchange too?
  22. TLewis macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2007
    left coast, US
    Yes, but, no, you can't. It appears to be a microsoft limitation.
  23. sambol, May 24, 2012
    Last edited: May 24, 2012

    sambol macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2012
    @Fisslefink Thanks for the post. Is there a way to use the Gmail app as the default for sending mail out of Contacts? For example, I click an email in Contacts and it opens up the Mail app, but I would like it to open up the Gmail app. This is one of the only reasons I sync with Microsoft Exchange, no notifications doesn't bother me.
  24. Fisslefink thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010
    Yeah unfortunately it doesn't act as the default Mail app from Contacts or when you click on an email address in the browser (mailto: links). The latter situation is annoying to me, but not much we can do about that. As for Contacts, I find I hardly ever use the Contacts app. When I need to compose a new mail, I just start typing the recipient's name, and the Gmail app searches all of my mail history & contacts for the right person, in a clickable drop-down list. The Mail app behaves similarly, but I find the searching on the Gmail app to be superior.
  25. LazarX macrumors newbie


    Oct 6, 2007
    Jersey City
    You can have multiple alerts, but you have to set that up by creating or editing the event on the Gmail website.

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