Email and Cal­en­dars on An­droid

YOU’VE GOT AN­DROID MAIL.

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ CHARLES HANDMER ]

WRIT­TEN COM­MU­NI­CA­TION IS con­stant on An­droid smart­phones and tablets. Much of it goes through SMS, What­sApp, Snapchat, Messenger, and more, but when writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion gets se­ri­ous email still reigns.

Al­most ev­ery week some­one who uses their phone for work-re­lated emails asks us what the best sys­tem is, or how to set up email and cal­en­dars on An­droid. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to self-em­ployed peo­ple and small busi­ness own­ers.

So this ar­ti­cle looks at the email op­tions avail­able on your An­droid de­vice, and how to set them up for your par­tic­u­lar needs. And, like most things on An­droid, a whole lot of the op­tions are free.

Let’s start with what comes bun­dled with An­droid:

GMAIL

If your phone is logged into your Google ac­count, as most An­droid smart­phones are, and you have a Gmail ac­count, you will prob­a­bly re­ceive email no­ti­fi­ca­tions on your home screen. But that’s not the same as email on your phone – you need an app for that.

The Gmail app is al­ready in­stalled on your An­droid de­vice, and works pretty well. You will find it in the Google apps folder. If you use Gmail the ba­sic prin­ci­ples will be fa­mil­iar to you, with Gmail au­to­mat­i­cally sep­a­rat­ing mes­sages into Pri­mary, So­cial, Pro­mo­tions and Up­dates cat­e­gories. Tap on the ham­burger menu at top left to view the dif­fer­ent in­boxes and op­tions.

Note that the Gmail app sup­ports mul­ti­ple email ac­counts. Just scroll to the bot­tom of the op­tions menu and tap on “Set­tings” then “add ac­count”.

You will have a list of email ac­count types to choose from. If it’s your own email eg: [email protected] your­do­main.com choose “Other” and en­ter the ac­count lo­gin de­tails. You might need to re­fer to your In­ter­net Ser­vice Provider’s guide to set­ting up their email ac­counts.

IN­BOX BY GMAIL

You might hear about In­box, which was in­tro­duced as an ex­per­i­ment by Google to “rein­vent email”. In­box has a range of in­no­va­tive fea­tures, in­clud­ing seam­lessly in­te­grat­ing Google re­minders and emails, but sadly it is be­ing closed – pos­si­bly by the time you read this. But if you want to try it, ever so briefly, search on the Play Store for “In­box by Gmail” to see if it is still avail­able.

The good news is that some In­box fea­tures have been in­cor­po­rated into Gmail, and we are hop­ing that more of them will be.

OUT­LOOK

While Gmail on An­droid is a solid app and the de­fault choice, there is an al­ter­na­tive that is win­ning many users over. The lat­est Out­look for An­droid is a pleas­ant sur­prise. It’s free and has a clean in­ter­face that is easy to nav­i­gate – in­clud­ing sim­ple swipe nav­i­ga­tion. Set­ting up is sim­i­lar to Gmail, it’s very in­tu­itive, and the app re­sponds in­stantly.

Out­look for An­droid sup­ports mul­ti­ple email ac­counts, and has a “Fo­cused” op­tion that dis­plays your most im­por­tant items, or choose “Other” to view the rest. As with Gmail, tap on the ham­burger menu at top left to open a slider with the op­tions. For set­tings go to the cog icon at the bot­tom left of the screen.

If you have mul­ti­ple email ac­counts con­nected you can choose to view all emails in a com­bined in­box, or select one ac­count at a time. We added a Gmail ac­count, and it worked well. In fact, some may pre­fer the look and feel of Gmail on Out­look – it is cer­tainly a vi­able al­ter­na­tive.

BLUE MAIL

If you are look­ing for a free email app for An­droid that is a lit­tle more sub­stan­tial than Gmail or Out­look, one of our favourites is

BlueMail. It does the same job, but gives you a huge range of cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions in a very at­trac­tive in­ter­face. There is a very handy Snooze func­tion that lets you send emails away to pop up again when ac­tion is re­quired.

Set­ting up BlueMail is sim­i­lar to the Gmail and Out­look apps, but with more op­tions to play with. It has an in­te­grated cal­en­dar that can sync with ex­ter­nal Ex­change servers such as Google and Out­look.com. It is an app that you need to spend a bit of time un­der­stand­ing and set­ting up the op­tions you want. It’s not as quick, easy or in­tu­itive at Out­look, but is more cus­tomis­able.

AN­DROID CAL­EN­DARS IN THE CLOUD

As men­tioned ear­lier, many users, es­pe­cially self-em­ployed peo­ple and small busi­ness own­ers, need in­te­grated cal­en­dars as well as email. Both Gmail and Out­look have cal­en­dars in their apps that sync with their cloud based ver­sion. That means if you use the cal­en­dar at Google.com or Out­look.com on all your de­vices/com­put­ers, they will al­ways have the same in­for­ma­tion in their cal­en­dars.

The Gmail cal­en­dar is ex­cel­lent and very ef­fec­tive at auto-fill­ing based on book­ing con­fir­ma­tion emails and the like. How­ever, the cal­en­dar func­tion in Out­look is par­tic­u­larly easy to use, re­quir­ing just one touch on the home screen to view. It can also be dis­played as an itin­er­ary, a day, three days, and the full month, and switch­ing be­tween the views is a breeze.

If you set up an email ac­count on out­look. com and log in to it, your An­droid and web Out­look cal­en­dars will syn­chro­nise in both di­rec­tions. Re­minders from cal­en­dar items will also ap­pear in your email in­box at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.

SYNC­ING YOUR AN­DROID AND CLOUD CAL­EN­DAR WITH WIN­DOWS OUT­LOOK.

Un­for­tu­nately there seems to be no of­fi­cial way to syn­chro­nise these cal­en­dars with Out­look on a Win­dows com­puter, which seems strange; pos­si­bly it’s a de­lib­er­ate lim­i­ta­tion to pro­tect Of­fice 365 rev­enue. There are some third party apps that claim to pro­vide syn­chro­ni­sa­tion for a fee, but they all seem to have their is­sues and mixed re­views.

We are test­ing some al­ter­na­tives ways of achiev­ing full syn­chro­ni­sa­tion, which is the Holy Grail for in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors and small busi­nesses, and there will be an ar­ti­cle on that if it works!

PAY YOUR WAY

As usual, we have been fo­cussing on the free op­tions, which are of­ten the best way to go with An­droid. But if you are pre­pared to shell out on a sub­scrip­tion plan, Google Apps gives you ac­cess to a com­plete suite of cloud based ap­pli­ca­tions that you can use on any de­vice, any­where with in­ter­net ac­cess.

Like­wise, Mi­crosoft Of­fice 365 bun­dles the main Mi­crosoft soft­ware into an in­te­grated cloud of­fer­ing that is well set up for small busi­nesses, and the en­try level sin­gle user ac­count is just $10 per month.

SO WHAT’S THE BEST OP­TION?

Over­all, we feel that Out­look for An­droid is cur­rently the best of the free apps. Of course, it mainly comes down to per­sonal pref­er­ence, plus what works best on your phone and ser­vice provider.

Gmail for An­droid main menu.

Set­ting up ad­di­tional email ac­counts on Gmail for An­droid is easy.

No short­age of free Mi­crosoft apps for An­droid.

The Out­look cal­en­dar in Month View – auto pop­u­lated from Out­look.com.

The Gmail cal­en­dar only dis­plays in list form, but does a great job of pop­u­lat­ing the list from the con­tents of your emails.

BlueMail gives you plenty of op­tions.

The Out­look main menu is clear and easy to nav­i­gate.

BlueMail is pop­u­lar!

BlueMail set­tings menu in the dark theme.

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