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Push gMail On The iPhone

The iPhone is a cracking piece of kit but it's implementation of "push" leaves a lot to be desired. Whenever I have used it it has drained my battery rather quickly plus gmail and google apps for domain are not supported. This is not great for me as I run all my emails through my domain and want instant access on the move.This has led me to investigate ways of getting true push (ie instant notification of email) for gmail/apps on the iPhone. So far I have found a few options. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and I aim to address them here.


Apple's iPhone companion piece is priced at a wallet unfriendly £59. Using this service it is possible to get your gmails pushed to your phone. To do this you need to forward all your incoming mail to your address, you can set this option in the gmail setting area. Once you have done this all messages sent to your gmail account are automatically sent to your account and are therefore pushed to your iphone once you have set your account on it.

Pros: Apples own in house solution. Gives you a lot more than just gmail push.

Cons: It costs £59!! Uses the iPhones push service so battery life will be affected. You have to forward all your emails to another address. had a lot of issues when first rolled out.

2. Nuevasync.

Nuevasync is a great service that allows you to sync google calendars with your iphone. It uses the Microsoft Exchange protocol and it works pretty well. I used it myself for a few months last year before I found nemusync and before firmware 3.0 brought calDAV syncing to the iPhone. Nuevasync now offer the option to have your gmail pushed to your phone via their exchange server. It costs $25 per year and by all accounts works splendidly.

Pros: Nuevasync uses microsoft's exchange protocol to sync both gmail and gcal. Pretty easy to set up. No need to forward your email to another account. Uses gmail's authentication service so you do not have to give them your password.

Cons: Costs $25!! Uses the iphone's push service to deliver mail so battery life will be affected.

3. Growl, ProwlGoogle Notifier.

This is the method I am currently using myself. It uses an iphone app called Prowl which works with the MacOS notification software Growl. Whenever Growl sends a notification on the desktop it is also sent to your phone using Prowl. Lifehacker have a great How To about it here. As this is based around an appstore app it does not use the iPhone's push email service, it instead uses the new push notification service that was introduced in firmware 3.0. This should help with battery life. The best thing about this method is that is not limited to gmail. Any app on your desktop that uses Growl is now able to send notifications to your iphone. I have mine to alert me when ever I get a twitter reply or direct message.

Pros: Uses push notifications, good for battery life. Not limited to gmail notifications can notify you about any desktop app that uses Growl. No need to give a 3rd party your gmail details.

Cons: You need to have your computer at home on at all times for this
to be any use. Not fully supported on windows, although progress is being made. The Prowl App costs £2.99


4. gPush

gPush is another appstore app that addresses the problem of the missing gmail push. All it does is send you a notification when you get an email. Thats it. Simple right? Well no. I tried to set it up yesterday and it just plat out refused to work at all. I did a bit of reading around the subject today and found that a lot of people are having the same problem. I eventually got it working by changing my gmail password and doing a hard reset on my phone. Now a lot of people won't want to
use this as you have to give your gmail login data to a 3rd party. The app developers claim to have a  robust security policy:

When we created the app, we committed first and foremost to security.We are using multiple levels of encryption including SSL, obfuscation, and cipher-based encryption. SSL ensures that your credentials can be transported securely. Your login credentials are encrypted using an encryption scheme that has never been cryptographically broken, with a different 'secret key' for each user. To test these security measures, penetration tests were ran on the server with no information accessed.

Caveat emptor is quite apt in this situation.

Pros: No desktop app required. Cheap, app is only 59p. Uses the notification service. Simple premise.

Cons: Does not appear to be stable yet. Setup can fail for unknown reasons. You have to give your gmail login details to the app.

5. Pushmail

When researching this post I came across another appstore app that provides push notifications for an email account. Its called pushmail and it works by supplying you an email to forward your mail to. You sign up for an account with them and then you set your gmail to forward a copy of all the emails you recieve to this address. This then sends a notification to your iphone using the push service. I have not personally used this app so I have no idea whether it works well or not.

Pros: Works with any email account that can be forwarded not just gmail. No need to supply your gmail login details to the app. Uses notification service.

Cons: Requires you to forward all your mail to another email address. App costs £2.99


These five solutions range in price from 59p to £59 and there doesn't seem to be a free solution yet. I use the Prowl/Growl method because I leave my Mac on all the time and it gives notifications on lots of different apps which I find very useful. However if gPush sort their act out and their security policy is ok then that seems like a good alternative. I will probably download and install pushmail tonight to test, but I don't like the idea of forwarding all my mails to a random email address so it probably isn't the solution for me. If you have any experience using any of these solutions please leave a comment.

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