Push e-mail support

Q: I recently purchased a new iPhone 3G and was wondering how to configure my GMail account for “Push” e-mail services? The AT&T rep told me told that I could get “Push” e-mail with my current GMail account, and I’ve got my account all set up on the iPhone and mail is coming in, but it doesn’t seem to show up automatically when I get a new message. Is there something else I need to do or configure on GMail’s end? Thanks for any help you can provide.

– Sue

A: Unfortunately, the iPhone does not provide “Push” e-mail with GMail. The AT&T rep you were speaking with may have been confusing the iPhone with the RIM Blackberry, which does support push with GMail through RIM’s Blackberry Internet Service (BIS).

The Blackberry and the iPhone both use completely different proprietary “push” technologies for e-mail, so they are not inherently compatible with one another. Whether GMail plans to update their systems to offer this functionality in the future is not certain, but as of today it is simply not available.

If you need “push” functionality with the iPhone, your options are limited to Apple’s MobileMe service, Yahoo, or a Microsoft Exchange server via ActiveSync. All other e-mail systems operate on a “Fetch” basis, and will poll for e-mail on whatever schedule you set, ranging from every 15 minutes to simply polling manually on-demand.

Note that the iPhone Mail app does immediately check for mail whenever you open it, so the only distinction is that non-push accounts will not proactively deliver your mail to the device and notify you of it immediately—you’ll have to wait for the next polling interval.

You can check which accounts are configured for “Push” and which ones support it simply by going into Settings, Fetch New Data on the iPhone. The main screen will allow you to globally set whether push is enabled, and set the polling interval for those accounts that do not support push e-mail:

Push e-mail support

Tapping on the “Advanced” button will take you to a screen where you can configure each of your accounts individually:


Push e-mail support

Accounts that support “Push” normally have this enabled by default, but you can change these to either “Fetch” or “Manual” on a per-account basis. Accounts that do not support “Push” will only have the “Fetch” or “Manual” options available for their settings.



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