Posts Tagged ‘gmail’

Google Gmail For Mobile 2.0 Released

November 4, 2008

On October 23, Google released the Gmail For Mobile App version 2.0.

I have to say that this is one of the best mobile applications out there, and an excellent reason to switch your email service to Google Gmail if you’re still stuck in the 20th century with Yahoo! or Hotmail.

The main feature of the app is that it brings most (if not all) of the power of the desktop browser based version of Gmail to your phone.  The archive and search features are particularily handy, and they are not replicated by using a POP3 or IMAP client.

Google says that this latest version is available for “Blackberry and J2ME-supported phones” (although Sun changed the name of J2ME to “Java ME” more than three years ago).  We’ve installed it on a Nokia N95 and Nokia E51 without problems.

One of the main differences between this version and the previous iteration is the ability for the app to handle multiple accounts at the same time.  This is very handy, especially if you have a Gmail handling email for your domain in addition to a personal account.

When installing the software, you should visit the site www.gmail.com/app with your mobile phone’s built in browser.  The page prompts you to uninstall your old version of the software, but if you’ve got a quick thumb, it’s easy to just click download without reading the details.  I don’t know how much of a problem it is if you don’t delete the old version first, but you’ve been warned.  Also note that when you delete the old version any draft messages that you had been working on will also be deleted.  These drafts seem to be stored locally, not on the server.  (Which reminds me of another advantage of the new version – multiple messages in drafts rather than the old version’s single work in progress).

On first run, you’ll have to re-enter your username and password (first time only – it seems as though there is no way to have the program prompt you each time), and you’ll probably want to go to the settings menu (Menu > Go to > Settings) and check to make sure the option “Always use secure network connections) slower performance)” is selected.  The performance may be a bit slower, but you won’t notice the difference and it’s a good policy to use SSL with your email.

On one of my phones (N95) I had the Gmail App on active standby (the list of “quick launch” programs at the top of the phone’s home screen), and after the uninstall and re-install it was automatically changed to the web app.  I went to change the setting back (Home Key > Tools > Settings > General > Personalisation > Standby mode > Active standby apps. > Shortcut X) and was surprised to see that Gmail was already selected.  I scrolled though the menu looking for another entry saying the same thing, but didn’t find it.  After exiting and going back to the home screen, I was surprised to see that Gmail was back in the list.

One more change in the program is that it seems to keep the messages in a cache.  This is obvious when you start up the program and see your messages before being asked to decide what network connection you want to use.  Apparently this feature helps to ease access to your mail in areas where the network connection is spotty.

So far things seem to be working flawlessly, and I have to say that this version seems to be better than the last.  My biggest complaint with the old version was that it seemed to take a longer time to load each time I started it up again (even after phone restarts), and I sincerely hope that this version doesn’t suffer the same malady.

The Google Mobile Blog lists these advantages of the new version:

  • Overall performance improvement: You should experience significant raw speed improvement, smoother scrolling, and no freezing.
  • Multiple accounts management: If you have both a Gmail and Google Apps email account, you can easily switch between them quickly. You will no longer have to use two different mobile apps to access personal and work emails.
  • Multiple mobile email drafts: You can save multiple email drafts in your mobile phone, so that you can pick and choose what you would like to send later.
  • Powerful shortcut keys: If you have a QWERTY phone, you can use shortcut keys. Hit ‘z’ to undo, ‘k’ to go to a newer conversation, and ‘j’ to go to an older conversation. See Menu/Help in the app for more shortcuts.
  • Basic offline support: Can’t get a signal? Not a problem. You can compose and read your most recent emails even when there is no signal. Also, any outgoing messages will be saved in the outbox on your phone and sent automatically when you’re back in coverage.

Try out version 2.0 now!

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Update: Make Gmail Use SSL Permanently

August 27, 2008

Further to the previous post regarding how to set up GMail to force SSL throughout the email session, I noticed that I was having sporadic problems using the Gmail App on my mobile phone (The Gmail App is highly recommended, by the way).

It turns out that this is a known problem with the Gmail for Mobile application, but the fix is simple.

Go into the Gmail for Mobile App settings (on my phone it was in Menu > Go to > Settings), and uncheck the box that says “Always keep me signed in”.

Then make sure you select the option that says “Always use secure network connections (slower performance)” by enabling the check box beside that option.

Select “Save”, then Menu > Exit Gmail.

Now you can restart the Gmail App, sign in using your username and password, and re-select the option in the menu to keep you logged in (Menu > Go to > Settings, and then put a check mark in the box that says “Always keep me signed in”).

Since I made these changes I haven’t had any problems, and I haven’t noticed that the connection is any slower over my EDGE connection than it was before.

Turn on permanent SSL for Gmail

August 20, 2008

Mike Perry of San Fransisco has developed a tool to break into Gmail accounts that are not using an SSL connection.  He presented details of his creation at Defcon 16, and is planning to release the tool over the next two weeks.

Part of the problem arises because when you go to the Gmail login page, the system logs you in using SSL, but then reverts back to an unencrypted connection to transfer the rest of the data to you.

To change the settings in Gmail permanently:

Log into your account using https://mail.google.com.
Click on “Settings” on the top right hand corner of the page.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the “Browser Connection” option.
Select the option “Always use https”
Click “Save Changes”

Google also notes that it is important to end each of your Gmail sessions by clicking Sign out at the top of any Gmail page and to close all Gmail browser windows.

There is currently no free fix for users who use Gmail with their own domain.

Mike Perry writes more about why Google’s “fix” is not adequate given the threat.

Update August 27,2008:  Also read about how this affects the “Gmail for Mobile” application here.