The Ultimate Guide to Google Services using Windows Mobile

by Ross McKillop on September 19, 2007

Windows Mobile

This overview will explain your options when it comes to using Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Search, Google Maps and even YouTube – with your Windows Mobile device. Though the screenshots are specific to Windows Mobile 5.0 on a Smartphone, they will be similar for Pocket PC and Windows Mobile 6.0 devices as well.

It’s also worth noting that all of the services were downloaded and/or accessed without using ActiveSync once – so Mac/Linux users who own Windows Mobile devices aren’t left out.

  1. Google Calendar
    1. Web based
    2. GCalendarSync
    3. Using SMS
  2. Gmail
    1. Web based
    2. Google for Mobile
    3. Built in POP client – “Messaging”
    4. Other POP mail clients (Flexmail)
  3. Google Reader
  4. Google Search
    1. Web based
    2. Using SMS
  5. Google Maps
    1. Web based
    2. Google Maps for Mobile application
  6. Google SMS
  7. YouTube
    1. Web based
    2. Using Avot mV



Google Calendar

  1. Via web – just visit http://calendar.google.com. Works in Opera Mini 4 beta, I couldn’t get it to work in Mozilla Mobile browser, but could have been related to my phone. Sometimes requires you to clear the Internet Explorer Mobile cache and cookies before it displays correctly. Advantages: will always be in sync with the “normal” Google Calendar web view, because that’s what it is. Doesn’t require any download or special plugin. The links to Maps work and are helpful to access that easily. Disadvantages: doesn’t support reminders, doesn’t show upcoming events on the Today screen (which pulls events from the built in Calendar application).

  2. Google Calendar web view

    Google Calendar event, web view
  3. GCalendarSync – this is the solution I use. I created a fairly detailed tutorial on getting it up and running. Advantages: two way syncs with the built in Calendar application, which means it displays upcoming events on your Today screen. Reminders sync, so you are reminded of events – and it’s smart enough to follow your phone profiles (if you use the “Meeting” profile, the reminder will be the “vibrate” setting, rather than a ring-tone). Disadvantages: has to be running all the time in the background, doesn’t support “repeating events” (yet).

  4. Plus: displays events on your Today screen.

  5. SMS – First register your phone with Google. Then send text message message to 48368 (GVENT). For example, if you send the message “Gov’t Mule concert with Allison at Commodore Ballroom 8pm Friday”, Google Calendar will figure out what you mean and add that event to your calendar. This feature is available in the US only.

    To receive calendar information on your phone via SMS, just send a text message containing one of the following commands to the short-code 48368 (GVENT):

    - Send “next” to get a notification regarding your next scheduled event.
    - Send “day” to get a notification containing all of your scheduled events for the present day.
    - Send “nday” to get a notification containing all of your events for the following day.

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Gmail

  1. Via web – just enter http://gmail.com in your mobile browser and a working version of Gmail will appear. Advantages: will always be in sync with the “normal” Gmail web view, because that’s what it is. The Mobile view of Gmail is quite customizable, you can choose to display your inbox, or a combination of filters. The “save password” checkbox works – so you don’t have to enter your pass every time you visit Gmail (note: which may be a security issue for you to consider – it’s a feature I use, but only when I know and trust the network I’m connected to). Doesn’t require you to enable POP on your Gmail account. No download required. Disadvantages: no audio or visual indication of new email – you have to refresh the page.

  2. Gmail in IE for Windows Mobile.


    Gmail in IE for Windows Mobile.


    Gmail in IE for Windows Mobile.

  3. Google for Mobile – download here: http://gmail.com/app. Advantages: in sync with Gmail account – marking an item read in this app marks it as read in ‘regular web based’ Gmail. It also includes quick access to lots of features. Disadvantages: requires Java to be installed on your mobile. It doesn’t notify you of new email, you have to hit refresh to get new messages. No indication of new email on your Today screen.

  4. Another drawback: can’t save user/pass between sessions.

  5. The built in POP mail app – “Messaging”. Advantages: it displays new messages on the Today screen. The setup includes a Gmail template, so the only info you really need is your user name and password (and you need to enable POP on your Gmail account). Disadvantages: I’ve yet to figure out a way to be notified of new emails aside from the Today screen entry changing the number of unread emails. It doesn’t sync with your Gmail account at all – mark something read on your “Messaging” version of Gmail, it remains unread in the web version.
  6. Screenshots:


    Dashboard Overview

    Dashboard Overview
       

    Dashboard Overview

    Dashboard Overview
       

    Dashboard Overview

    Dashboard Overview
       

    Dashboard Overview

    Dashboard Overview
  7. Flexmail (POP client). Advantages: Only one of the Gmail via Mobile solutions to support vibration notification of new email (of the software I’ve included in this article so far). It can be set to check for mail every x minutes, along with dozens of other features. In theory supports “Push” but I couldn’t get it to work with my HTC S621 running Windows Mobile 5.0, it may very well work on your phone/mobile device. Disadvantages: doesn’t sync with your actual Gmail calendar – marking items as read in the client doesn’t mark them as read online. It did cause a noticeable “slowdown” on my smartphone while it was running – it’s a bit memory intensive according to the Task Manager. It’s not free – which isn’t a big deal – the price is fair, and it has loads of additional features beyond supporting Gmail.

  8. Flexmail’s Use fast new messages check didn’t work for me


    Flexmail notifications can be customized – including your phones vibrate feature.

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Google Reader

www.google.com/reader works perfectly in Internet Explorer Mobile – I suspect it would work in most browsers. It will detect that you’re using a mobile browser, and render the page accordingly.


Unread items

Viewing options
   

Subscription list

Individual RSS article

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Google Search

  1. Just bookmark, if you don’t set it as your Mobile browser home page – http://google.com/pda. It’s a custom www.google.com for mobile browsers and PDA’s.
  2. Or, you can use SMS to search – depending on what you’re looking for, and/or where it and/or you are. Confusing? A bit. It’s not like searching the web – you can only search for certain things. And, it’s mostly for US residents only.

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Google Maps

  1. Download the Google Maps for Mobile application by visiting http://www.google.com/gmm in your mobile browser. Once the download has completed, it’ll go through an easy to follow installation. The result is a fantastic little program that makes finding locations and getting directions almost painless.

  2. Google Maps for Mobile

    Maps for Mobile options
       

    Locate contacts

    Zoom way in
  3. Via web – just visit http://maps.google.com/ in your mobile browser. You may get a message about not using a supported browser, but most of the functionality will work in Internet Explorer Mobile (at least using Windows Mobile 5.0).

  4. Google Maps web view

    Google Maps web view 2

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Google SMS

Some of the SMS features work in the US only, some work in the US and Canada, and others will work across the world. See the Google SMS home page for details.

    Weather: Send a text message to 466453 with weather, or the shortcuts w or wx – followed by your location. Examples: w houston tx or wx 90210. This one works in Canada.
  1. Sports: Send a text message to 466453 with a school or team name, or a city and league name, such as giants mlb duke. This one works in Canada too – I sent the messages toronto mlb and maple leafs nhl and it worked both times (though both arrived 2 hours after I sent the message).

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YouTube

  1. Via web – visit http://m.youtube.com in your mobile web browser. Advantages: it works. Disadvantages: it’s really just a sub-set of YouTube. Like a “best of” collection (albeit a fairly large one). They’re not in Flash (which may or may not be a disadvantage depending on how you look at it). Be very careful watching these if you’re using a pay per-kilobyte/megabyte plan. The only time I’d view YouTube videos on my phone is when I’m connected to a free 802.11b/g wi-fi network.
  2. Avot mV is a program you can install on some (most?) Windows Mobile 5 and higher devices. Advantages: It allows you to search all of YouTube, and plays back the videos even when Flash isn’t installed on your Windows Mobile devices (?). It’s free. Disadvantages: takes a while to “buffer” even on an 802.11g connection. This could be due to some kind of on-the-fly re-encoding – I honestly don’t know. It doesn’t seem to always work – it’s prone to freezing/not loading videos, and can be sluggish. In this case the advantages do outweigh the disadvantages – at least you have a good chance at being able to watch any YouTube video, not just the ones created specifically for mobile devices.