Friday, January 25, 2008

Using the Gmail Mobile App with Google Apps accounts

Update: Google have now released a version of the Gmail Mobile App for Google Apps accounts on devices other Blackberries, so the information in this article is largely out of date. Visit from your phone to download it.

Google Apps is a lovely way to get your email, combining the loveliness of the normal Gmail interface with the ability to use your own domain names properly, without any of this Outlook " on behalf of" nonsense. And it's free! They also recently upgraded the email storage you get for free to that of a normal Gmail account, currently 3805 MB.

But there is one super-useful feature missing from the Google Apps product that you do get with standard Gmail - support for the Gmail Mobile App, a much nicer way to interact with your email from your (Java-enabled) phone or PDA than the standard web interface. Sadly it doesn't support Google Apps mail - but with a little trickery, it can.

To be fair there is an official Google Apps client for the Blackberry, but any of us non-BB owning phone people are left out. There seems no technical reason why this should be, so it has caused speculation of an insider deal with Blackberry and other conspiratorial, and quite possibly true, allegations. It's also angered people to the point of creating a petition.

However, thanks to Mulefire, a commenter at Lifehacker, there is now a way of making the non-Apps client work with Apps. Yay! Tested and working by the Poorhouse on a Windows Mobile 5 phone, and success on others is reported elsewhere.

Here's how:

* From your phone, go and web-browse to download old-skool version 1 of the Gmail client. Install it however you would normally install Java apps on your phone - in the case of the Poorhouse's Windows Mobile phone, the Java midlet manager started up and installed it automatically.
* If asked, make sure to say yes to allowing it to use data connections.
* Run it, and enter your log-in information - using your full Google Apps email address for the username (e.g. and your normal Google Apps password for the password. If it seems that it won't let you type into the boxes to enter this information, be sure to press Enter (or select, or whatever your phone has) before typing in to bring up a text entry screen. Then let it try and log in.
* It will report failure, a 404 error in the case of the Poorhouse's experience. Fear not, just quit the application.
* Now download an update - version 1.1.1 from When installing make sure to allow it access to data connections and to "Keep existing data".
* Open up the new Gmail app, and...wonder of wonders...there's your Google Apps inbox ready for use. Hurrah!

Make sure that you don't upgrade it to their 1.5 release because this wont work with that.


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