Google dropping ActiveSync support for Gmail, forcing new connection to go through their shoddy IMAP service

As part of their "Winter Cleanup", Google announced today that they'll be deprecating support for Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts over Exchange ActiveSync, or GoogleSync as they call it. According to Google:

Google Sync was designed to allow access to Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts via the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync® protocol. With the recent launch of CardDAV, Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols. Starting January 30, 2013, consumers won't be able to set up new devices using Google Sync; however, existing Google Sync connections will continue to function. Google Sync will continue to be fully supported for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education. Users of those products are unaffected by this announcement.

Apple led the development of the open source CalDAV and CardDAV protocols, expressly to be alternatives to Microsoft's Exchange dominance. I don't sync Google Contacts, or use them at all because I've historically found them to be both overly promiscuous (they continually fill with junk I didn't explicitly add) and unreliable. I do sync Gmail and Google Calendar, however, and so I'm not looking forward to not being able to add them via ActiveSync on future devices.

That's entirely because Google's IMAP service has always been shoddy. It throws up "exceeded bandwidth" and "too many simultaneous connection" errors that are downright embarrassing coming from the world's largest Internet company.

I have both a Google Apps account for work, and a Gmail account for personal use, so it looks like I'll get to keep EAS support on one of them but not the other, which creates a very inconsistent user experience.

I love the new Gmail app, but I prefer having all my email in one, unified app. I want to see everything in my inbox all at once. And as a user, I shouldn't have to care which pipe my communications are coming through, they should just show up in my interface. Having to go to separate app just for Gmail breaks that experience as well.

Overall, this feels like Apple ditching Google data from iOS 6 Maps, but at an even more problematic level: Microsoft can't just release an app of their own to fix it.

Source: Google

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Does BIS for blackberry use IMAP or "google sync"?
    Hope this doesn't break gmail sync over BIS, at least until BB10 is released.
  • Whatever happened to "Don't Be Evil....?"
  • Just because you don't like it or disagree with it doesn't make it evil.
  • That could be said about sacrificing cats if you talk to the right people. Some people don't think it's evil some people do. Doing something out of spite is normally considered evil.
  • I switched to the "GMail" interface for Mail and Calendars a while back and haven't had any issues with it. I'm not sure what it is behind the scenes, but I suspect it's IMAP, just with preset Google settings. For Contacts, I'm still using the Exchange interface because, well, the GMail interface doesn't offer Contacts. I haven't had issues with extra cruft getting added to my Google Contacts and since I use gmail as my primary email and access it via the web interface from work, I'm pretty much stuck with keeping my contacts there. (It used to also matter that I was using Google Voice, but I iMessages has pretty much stopped me from using that anymore.)
  • The Gmail interface does support Contacts now, via CardDAV. It actually syncs more Contact fields than the Exchange one. It's the IMAP for email I'd rather not use, and don't have to as I have a personal Google Apps account. Looks like Google doesn't want to cover the licensing cost for free accounts. If you want Exchange ActiveSync, it'll cost you $50 per year... Not bad considering you also lose all that on-screen advertising.
  • Post January 13th, you have to add Gmail contacts by using the "other" options and adding a CardDav account. It's a little more working than adding everything (Mail, Calendar, and Contact) through Exchange, but not a huge deal. I just got a new iPhone and couldn't figure out why my Gmail and a Google Apps account were not connecting even though they just were on the device from which they were migrated. I was going nuts. Luckily I stumbled on this article. Thanks Rene!
  • So if I read this right according to the statement by Google those of us who already have sync setup will be able to continue to use it?
  • Yes...though the statement refers to setting up new devices, so it may be our current devices can still use EAS, but not our next ones.
  • sadly this is correct - works find on my iPhone and was OK on my iPad...just got a replacement iPad via applecare and it wont work - so annoying not having a one-stop app for email.
  • I use both iCloud and Google - and since my trust is mainly with Google for NOT losing contacts, email, and calendars, I'm trying to get it all set up with CardDAV and CalDAV. I noticed something though that is nice - CalDAV preserves calendar colors, unlike Exchange...although now I can manually change the Exchange calendars to a limited set of colors.
  • What a shoddy move; no class. I may stop recommending Gmail to friends and I certainly won't consider ever paying for a business account. I use hosted Exchange for my small business. Once you get hooked on Exchange, all others pale.
  • Don't care. Been Google-free for almost a year. I got a private email address and use duckduckgo for my search engine. The irony is that I do own a Galaxy Tab in which I created a never used gmail account. So am I really Google-free........Kahhhhhhhn!
  • This is a worry. Google have a 100 contacts-per-email limit on IMAP, so we advise customers for our "MailShot Pro" group email app that run foul of that limit to connect using Exchange instead, as that has a 500 contacts-per-email limit. I hope they increase the limit when using IMAP, if they are going to retire the Exchange option.
  • I'm really disappointed in this decision. I chose Google for a few different accounts because of the push capabilities of Exchange ActiveSync.
  • Google = Dicks
  • Google apps not free anymore, dropping active sync. Looks like it's time for an alternative.
  • "I love the new Gmail app, but I prefer having all my email in one, unified app. I want to see everything in my inbox all at once. And as a user, I shouldn't have to care which pipe my communications are coming through, they should just show up in my interface." You're coming over the Blackberry 10? ;)
  • +2
  • +2
  • +10
  • So if i understood this article correctly if i dont get my iphone 5 before Jan 30,2012 it will not work with active sync. Or are they saying that everyone who is a legacy active sync user will continue to be supported but after the 30th they will no longer allow people to setup active sync if they have not already done so?
  • The way I read it, any *device* set up with EAS before Jan 30, 2012 will continue to work, but you will not be able to set up a new one after that date. Your Christmas iPhone 5...fine. The iPad you buy in February, even if set up for the same gmail account as the iPhone...not fine.
  • Good question, but seams nobody knows the answer. And good luck contacting google.
  • According to this it's only current devices they will continue to support. You won't be able to connect future devices.
  • I've actually found the "shoddy" IMAP more reliable than ActiveSync. There are tons of threads on Google's support forums, some years old, about problems with AS, partly caused by the fact that it was originally developed for Microsoft's, not Google's email protocol, and that never got addressed. I set my IMAP to fetch mail every 15 minutes and never had a problem. That's fast enough for me and I haven't noticed any significant battery drain. The only thing I used AS for was contacts/phone book, which had horrible limitations (only 1 mobile number per contact etc), but I recently switched to Google's new CardDAV sync which so far seems much better.
  • I have no idea what you're talking about. Active sync is easily set up using as the mail server. It's essentially a setup where users need no technical knowledge to configure. As for the limits you're describing, they don't exist. So where did that impression come from, exactly?
  • Looks like I am going to have to pay the 50.00 dollars a year. I use the exchange settings because I have over 3000 contacts with address and note field with data going back 10 years or more. This is my business data I can not afford to lose this.
  • What's $50 a year? Is that a paid service google mentioned in article? May consider it too. Any info would be appreciated.
  • $50 a year is for the paid version of Google Apps. That is per user on each domain setup with Google's service. If you use a go.
  • Ok, I'm not very smart when it comes to this stuff and need some clarification. I currently have my Gmail acct set up as an Exchange (is that the same as Activesync?) on my iPhone. From what I am reading: this means that if I will no longer be able to set gmail up that way (on future devices) and that those devices won't be able to have push for gmail???
  • You can have push notifications using the gmail app, but inside, no, unless Apple starts supporting push imap ( ).
  • That's the way it looks to me
  • Hmm... Well, if they get rid of ability to Push email, then I see no need to stay with gmail.
  • I guess the real question is iCloud safe and reliable to handle the place of google exchange ?
  • Okay I understand that they want us to use the Gmail app but how do we set up our calendars the way they want us to?
  • Under the Accounts, you can select other and add it as a CalDAV account.
  • The whole reason that we use on our iPhones is in order to sync contacts to the iphone. What are we supposed to do now that this is going to be shutdown? Anyone have any thoughts, we use Google for our calendar, Gmail and Contacts :-(
  • Tim, its time for iMail
    screw google
  • +1 !!
  • I'm hearing a lot of fist-pounding childish rants but no good arguments. BLAME MICROSOFT. They charge for Activesync licenses. Microsoft charges Google. Google has been eating the cost for YEARS on your behalf. Now Google is "evil" or "the devil" for not wanting to foot the bill anymore of these licenses? Honestly, c'mon people. Know the facts before complaining. Are they doing this to promote Android? Possibly, but that is Google's prerogative to promote their own product ahead of others. They don't really "owe" you free services they have been giving for years. nothing says they cannot cut off those free services at any point either. Please lookup Caldav and Carddav setup for calendar and contacts respectively. These are open source formats and give much better support for the features than Activesync allowed for. (more fields, better invites, calendar color matching, etc.) Email, I'll bite, it sucks without push email and IMAP isnt quite as good. But IMAP DOES offer much better support for gmail features like labels and access to drafts. It's a trade-off, or you're free to use one of the many other push email services (and forward your gmail address to it) I'm sure a ton of childish comments will follow, but be realistic here and face the true facts. Google owes none of us anything for free.
  • I already use the Gmail app for Push email, and I use CardDav for contacts.
    I did setup Gmail on my phone through "mail/contacts/calendars" to use the calendar sync on there. Is that the same as using CalDav?