UPDATE: New post that clarifies the content below: Setting Up Work or Personal Email on Android with Email App
I often speak to new android users who are having a problem figuring out how to best set up their email, contacts, and calendar. The purpose of this post is to clarify how to best utilize your android device.
The overall vision: When you get an Android device you are making a small commitment to Google. Android is a mobile platform created and maintained by Google. In the past you might have had a palm device, windows mobile device, blackberry, or iphone. Each has its own unique platform and is designed to work differently. With Android you need to transition to using Gmail, Google contacts, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. This transition should be painless and frankly wise. Unlike your palm desktop or outlook software you will be able to access all your important information from anywhere in the world with internet access and unlike Apple’s MobileMe it won’t cost you a thing. Let’s look at each component and how you can make the transition the least painful.
Email: Right now you may be using a combination of webmail addresses (hotmail, yahoo, etc), and professional address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your Android device comes with the default Gmail app and another email app. You will at first be tempted to setup all your non-Gmail email accounts in the email app using the pop3 settings just like you would for outlook. This is a mistake because the email app on Android isn’t very good and because it will mean continuing to login to multiple accounts from your desktop every time you want to check your email.
Instead take advantage of the Android’s strengths by logging into your Gmail account and going to the “Accounts” tab in the settings. Here you can setup up to 5 other pop3 or Imap accounts to arrive in your Gmail. Check the box that gives you the option to reply with the same email address instead of the default one. By doing things this way you have turned your Gmail into an Outlook. All your email from different accounts will be routed into your Gmail inbox both online and in your android. When you reply to emails it will show your email address as the one that the email was sent to and not necessarily your Gmail address. This is a good thing!
Contacts: Its important to maintain all your contacts and address book when you change to your Android device. If you currently have your contacts in Outlook, or any other software export them in csv format. This is a standard feature that even yahoo mail offers. Then go into your Gmail and click on “contacts.” Select the option to import and upload the csv file. Presto, all your contacts are now in your Gmail account and on your Android device!
Calendar: Much like your contacts your calendar can be exported in a csv file from outlook and then uploaded into Google Calendar. Just like Gmail and Gmail contacts, your Google Calendar will auto-sync to your Android device. If you can’t survive each day using Google Calendar alone you can download Google sync software for free and set your outlook or Ical to auto-sync with Google Calendar which will in turn auto-sync with your Android device.
Notes & Documents: Google Docs is an amazing online service that comes free to any Google Account holder. Navigate to http://docs.google.com to get started. You can upload or create new excel, word, powerpoint docs etc. Its really an amazing interface. To access these files on your Android device download the “Gdocs” app from the market. This is currently the only decent app for Android to access your Google docs from your phone. You can even create new docs right on the phone and them upload/sync them to your Google docs account. Its also important to note that you do not need the Gdocs app to view/edit your online Google docs. You can just open your Android browser and navigate to the mobile Google docs webpage which is very impressive.
The transition to android should be painless.