back to article Gmail pushes onto the iPhone

Google has enabled push email on the iPhone, so now received Gmail can interrupt iPhone users just as irritatingly as the native app supplied by Apple. Gmail users have long been able to receive pushed notifications in the iPhone mail application, just by telling the iPhone it was a Microsoft Exchange account. But now the …


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  1. Si 1
    Jobs Horns

    I'm only familiar with the Jobsian way of doing things

    How does Android handle alerts and notifications for things like appointments?

    1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I'm only familiar with the Jobsian way of doing things

      Android handsets have a rather neat tray that slides down from the top of the screen. Alerts appear as icons and the user can slide down the tray to get more details if they wish.

      That tray isn't always on screen - if you're watching a movie or playing a full-screen game then you won't see the notification (though an audible signal is enabled by default).

      It's a very effective system, and I'd be surprised if something similar didn't turn up on iOS reasonably soon.


      1. Annihilator

        Much like

        Any other OS in the world. Using Windows/Outlook as an example, a mail icon will appear in the systray next to the clock. Balloon messages can also be configured. (Ubuntu and OSX will generally have the same in the top-right corner)

        Of course, you can also configure it to go for the Jobsian iPhone approach, whereby it steals focus and interrupts whatever is running, but why you'd want that I have no idea.

      2. Arctic fox

        I am puzzled.

        Your reply was informative, friendly and neutral. I wonder who or what down-voted it?

        1. Goat Jam


          Probably an iFanboi who doesn't like anybody mentioning anything that is no an iProduct in anything even remotely approaching a positive fashion.

          P.S. I also own an iphone, but I expect to get downvoted too

    2. DrXym

      Pretty elegantly

      Alerts (or rather notifications) are usually appear as little icons in the status bar at the top of the screen. If you want to know more about an alert you can drag down a tray and details will show up there.

      Notifications can also play a sound, vibrate, flash the phone's led or whatever to nag the user, for example in the case of reminders and so on.

  2. Chris Hatfield
    Thumb Up

    Meh. Voice search is very accurate!

    If it gets irritating, you can always switch the push notifications off. It's useful for when you're waiting for an important email, I guess

    {There are lots of standalone apps called 'Gmail push', or similar, that cost a few quid. I guess those developers will be upset now. :-p }

    Meh, atleast Google isn't limiting all their stuff to Android, like they could do.

    Part of this app let's you speak into the phone. It's stunningly accurate! However, when I say 'cunt' it comes up as '####'. Same goes for 'fuck'. I think Google really need to iron out this bug ;-)

  3. Mark Thomas 3


    Was already there - just had to use the built in exchange setup instead of Google Mail.

    Why this is suddenly news I dont know.

  4. Tony Davenport 1


    "That limitation also applied to the iPhone's native mail app, at least until recently, which annoyed many users who wanted to keep their work and home email accounts separate."

    Are you sure? I always used it quite happily with multiple accounts. What did change recently (in iOS 4.0) was the introduction of a unified inbox for those multiple accounts.

    Tony Davenport

    1. nickrw

      Re: Huh

      You could have multiple mail accounts, but only one exchange account configured at a time.

  5. Andy 3

    Tweak the notification settings

    You can always tone down the push notifications from the settings panel.

    Each application can have its push settings tweaked to turn on/off:

    * Alert - Message across screen

    * Sound

    * Badge - Small icon overlay over app icon

    You could therefore have your Google app (for example) on your front page or the dock. Turn off the "alert" setting from the notifications. You'll know when you have new emails as the sound will pay and the badge will update to show the number of new emails.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've been able to do this, and synchronise my calendar, even without this?

  7. Narcolepsy

    how is push implemented?

    as constantly polling, constantly draining battery life "push", or a genuine server based push service?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If it's anything like Androids

      If it's anything like Androids then it technically does poll, but basically there is one central app which polls one central server every so often on behalf of all apps, and wakes/launches the apps that have a notification.

      Because it's shared the data passed is minimal, and if you have an always-on data connection on anyway (which really doesn't drain the battery much at all) and only one app running the battery drain is small.

  8. Gavin 8
    Thumb Down

    push is pull

    push is a load of rubbish, you'd think in this day and age they could genuinely integrate a server side push message, but from what I can work out is uses a slightly clever pull, like you do with AJAX apps in GWT. initially you do a poll to ask the server if it has any new data, and the server just sits there waiting until something comes through or hits a time out. If something comes through the client gets a reply with the notifcation message, if not after a specific time out (say 20 mins) the server returns a 'nothing for you' message. As soon as the client gets a response from the server it sends another request and waits half asleep. - to do this I think/suspect it has to keep a tcp connection open rather than when push is off and it is completely asleep until it gets a carrier packet/message. Which would explain the much worse battery life when push is enabled (it's not 20% worse battery life in my experience).

    Not exactly push, and I'm confident that's how it works, but I did read about it a while back and I could be wrong and remain open to enlightenment (I may have just been reading exchange push rather than apple's own 'notification' push).

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: push is pull

      Yep, that's exactly how it works - it's just a connection that remains open, usually with occasional heartbeat messages to keep the session active and to prevent it from timing out. Depending on the system, what's sent by the server to the client device is either the message itself or a simple notification that "a new message has arrived, contact me separately to get it".

      It's called "push" because the client doesn't specifically request the notification / message, the client just establishes and keeps a connection open and accepts what's sent to it.

      The alternative is for the client (phone) to connect and authenticate to the server and register an interest in receiving mails, the server will then have to store the address of this single client and any authentication required to connect back. When a new message comes in the server must then, attempt a connection to the remote client which, technically, now becomes a server as it has to listen for incoming connections.

      Of course, this involves the client still listening, the mail server managing to authentice with the remote mail client and then the mail can be delivered. This is naturally, security hell as the client can change address, another system could be waiting instead, etc. Not impossible, just heavy, largely unnecessary and leaves the client system more open to attack.

  9. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

    Advanced "IMAP" Technology, probably

    The IMAP protocol has a command, "IDLE", which tells the server to hold the session open, but not wake a client connection until new mail arrives. This allows mail to be quickly detected without the client having to poll. Now that iOS applications can finally wait on sockets, this won't be a major difficulty.

    Third-party readers like GMate are still way nicer and more useful than Google's fairly utilitarian client, though.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Gee... I figure if I didn't want a 'reminder' I 'd be stupid enough to not ask for one. (I must remind myself to send this. Duh)

  11. Matt K

    So how much will ActiveSync kill my battery?

    I wasn't particularly impressed with the Google Mobile App approach to notifications (which means launching Safari to read anything, rather than downloading it to the mail app, which is no good if I only notice the notification once I've got on the tube).

    So I switched from the standard Gmail setup on my iPhone to the Exchange ActiveSync version. How much will this cripple my battery? Does it work the same way as the learned posters above describe for push notifications? Ta.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    In the meanwhile, at Nokia...

    In the meanwhile, at Nokia...

    customers have been experiencing outages on Nokia Messaging and are unable to access their accounts through the Finn systems...

    I'm booting Nokia once and for all... "HTC Desire" here I go...

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