Blog Post

Push Gmail For iPhone (Almost) Here


One of the only reasons I’ve stuck it out with my MobileMe account, despite numerous quirks, annoyances and outright failures, is push email. For the iPhone to be useful to me as a business device, I need it to keep me up to date on my email in real time (or as close to it as MobileMe’s push can achieve). Contact and calendar syncing are nice, but both can now be done using your Google information if you’d rather not pay the $100 annual MobileMe subscription fee. Gmail push would complete the picture, and it could be on the way.

And by could, I mean it definitely exists, as demonstrated by TechCrunch’s hands-on with the app that makes it possible. Yes, it’s via a third-party app, and there is no official word from either Google (s goog) or Apple (s aapl) that Gmail push on the iPhone has finally arrived. Not surprising, considering the money Apple stands to lose in MobileMe subscriptions if Gmail, which is not only incredibly popular, but free, manages to replicate the one trick MobileMe still has up its sleeve.

The app, called GPush, is the product of a development company called Tiverias, and it uses Gmail’s IMAP IDLE feature and Apple’s push notifications to deliver near-live updates from your Gmail inbox. All the app itself does is provide a login screen, after which point you never really have to open it again. Once set up, it will display text alerts containing the sender address and subject from each new email you receive. That is, if it’s allowed to.

The question surrounding GPush isn’t whether it can pull off what it claims to be able to. That it can do just fine, as TechCrunch’s tests prove. The question is, will Apple ever allow GPush to exist in a form that’s widely available to all users via the App Store? Cupertino has a vested interest in blocking Gmail push, since some users (like me, for instance) might walk away from MobileMe were it to become available, resulting in an obvious loss in revenue.

If Apple does block the app, regardless of what (if any) excuse it cites as the reason for the rejection, it will cast even more doubt on the already suspect App Store submission review process. Basically, it seems like the only reason to keep IMAP IDLE support out of the built-in Mail app is to block Gmail push, so it wouldn’t surprise me if GPush never sees the light of day. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

34 Responses to “Push Gmail For iPhone (Almost) Here”

  1. MarryMcJ – You are a genius! Exactly the workaround I was looking for – and works perfectly – notifies my mail app when therei s gmail waiting and removes the mail notification badge from the mail app once I have checked my gmail – awesome awesome awesome!

  2. Dave Bekhor

    My alternative is free and simple. Go to Gmail settings and select forwarding and POP/IMAP then enter a free Yahoo mail address and select keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox. Then go to your iPhone and enter the Yahoo mail account and select push. Voila, you have all your Gmail pushed to iPhone.

  3. Alan Kent

    Reading through this article and subsequent comments did not make it clear GPush is now available. I just searched for GPush in the store and its there with a mix of good and bad reviews.

    Question: Does enabling ‘push’ on the iPhone chew the battery faster? I have heard conflicting reports.

    • Alan…I don’t notice a bit of difference in battery usage with GPush enabled. I personally think it’s the best push notifier out there and for the past week it’s been working perfectly.

      Regarding the iPhone battery…I am convinced there is simply no way to get over one day’s use out of a charge unless you don’t use your phone at all and don’t turn it on. If it’s a device you have to charge every day, just do so and use whatever apps you want. I didn’t buy my iPhone to not use it :-)

  4. There is a great Gmail notifier in the App store called
    “pushmail.” it sends an instant pop-up when u receive a new
    email from any account plus a brief display of the message. It is
    instant but nit true push. This is ok with me because it does
    not create any duplicate emails to delete. 5 bucks beats
    the$99 cost of MobileMe. Works great

  5. Macstibs

    Wait… I can pay $0.99 to give someone my Gmail login credentials?!!??!? That’s awesome… They should increase the price though… to like $5.00


  6. LarryMcJ

    You all are missing the easiest way to do this. Setup Gmail (web access) on your iPhone and add the home screen shortcut. Then setup Gmail IMAP in the iPhone Apple Mail (don’t worry…I know it doesn’t work for crap but we’re not going to use it). Now, every time you get an email, the IMAP Gmail account will instantly show you the message count notifier on the home screen mail icon (at the bottom) and you can launch the Gmail web interface to go to your inbox. When you take any action on anything in your Gmail web access (read, unread, delete, whatever) it will show up almost instantly in your IMAP Gmail account. Essentially, all we’re doing here is using the home screen icon for Gmail

  7. Apple isn’t going to stop this, it’s no different than what is available already with their ActiveSync exchange support.

    Google has also licensed ActiveSync from Microsoft. They’ve used it in Calendar and Address book, as you mentioned, and one would assume they are busy implementing it for Gmail.

  8. Sixer

    Total suck. This is not push email / push gmail. It’s a push notification for new mails in your online inbox. It has nothing to do with push email.

  9. Steve

    Apple needs to pass this app, this whole non push gmail thing is ridiculous. Must be some agreement Google and Apple have together, I suppose if proper push gmail came to the iphone then MobileMe would be deemed pretty worthless.

  10. Dan A

    I don’t know if I’m alone here, but the push service for my Yahoo mail doesn’t always come instantaneously. I’ve sent emails to my Yahoo account and many times I’m not notified on my iPhone for up to 30 minutes! If I am ever anxiously awaiting an email I usually open the mail app and then it will show me my new mail (either Yahoo or Gmail). So honestly, I don’t see push as such a remarkable thing. Take your phone out and check your mail manually. It works better than push!

  11. I have my work email, my yahoo email and my google email all hooked up on my iPhone. The work and yahoo email comes in at exactly or almost exactly the same time. The google mail takes only slightly longer and if I refresh my mail it pulls new mail. Honestly I have never seen this as a big problem. If email is that time sensitive then ok, but in my experience, there are a lot of people who vastly over emphasize the importance of what they are working on. Unless there is a human life on the line, relax and smell a rose or something!

  12. NapMan

    Yahoo had push on iPhone from day one. Exchange has push too. I don’t think Apple should be too worried about letting Gmail have push.

  13. Bryan

    Is gmail push through Nuevasync a new option? Nuevasync was useful for syncing gmail mail and contacts with the iphone(and it wasn’t push)…before gmail natively supported it.

    And I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t really care to use a third party app for mail just to save 15 minutes of missed email. It would be nice if the iphone supported push for all email natively.

    • The nice thing is it will allow you to turn off fetching completely, saving battery power, and you will only have to check your email when you actually have new email.

    • NuevaSync and MobileMe is tempting, but seems shameful to me. I pay upwards of $80 every single month for mobile service. If gmail has some technology that works like push, or better yet, supports push then I shouldn’t have to pay ANYTHING for it.

  14. Push mail is hardly “the one trick MobileMe still has up its sleeve.” It may be the only thing you find useful from a MobileMe membership, but it is hardly the only service Apple is offering in the membership. It is also far from the only appealing feature for new Internet users and those who want a convenient bundle of services.

    If you don’t find MobileMe useful, that’s fine. But you’re doing yourself quite a disservice as an Apple blogger if you can’t see past your own disinterest in a service to what it actually offers its intended audience.

  15. Blaze

    Are you serious?!
    You’re actually dishing out $99 a year for a Mobileme account, just so you won’t have to wait max 15 minutes to know if you’ve got new mail?

  16. What you didnt mention is that yahoo already has Push mail and Apple has allowed that.

    It certainly is still a mystery why they haven’t coordinated it with Google on the iPhone yet, not question, and this will certainly help the situation, at least temporarily (aka until Apple and Google actually put it on the phone). Maybe v3.1?