Syncing Android Contacts With GMail


When you get a new phone – or a new service provider for that matter – one of the most annoying things in the world is making sure your contacts are up to date. The Official Google Mobile Blog made a post today explaining how Android syncs your contacts with GMail to ensure the most painless and seamless process possible:

The whole syncing with Google/Gmail thing is great and all… unless GMail isn’t your primary account and/or you don’t keep all your contacts in Gmail. Sure… its awesome if you’re already an avid Google user but can be irritating otherwise.

However, it does give you a good system moving FORWARD and thats part of Google’s plan with this whole Android thing…. to get you engrained in Google’s services and at some point become reliant/dependent on them. Because lets face it – if you switch back to a phone that DOESN’T have Android later on… aren’t you recreating the same problem?

So the idea is for Google to become your hub for communication with the world and to be honest, its a great strategy. Lets not pretend its totally revolutionary or anything. Afterall, pretty much every carrier offers a contact backup system (although they are paid) but it usually is easy to simply port your contacts from one phone to another.

Android however, offers a new level of integration between your contacts, calendar, address book and all that jazz. Thats the idea. To get a new level of effectiveness from your mobile form. It comes at the expense of being more reliant on Google. At least they make it easy to become reliant on them as opposed to someone else (or nobody at all).

Here is the “new level” of effectiveness we’re talking about:

So there you have it – 2 way syncing of your data in real-time. From your phone to your computer and your computer to your phone, everything is consistent and up to date. Me likey.

I’m not a huge GMail user right now. To be honest, I WANT to make the switch but just feel anchored to my Yahoo account. This is what will push me to do the legwork to GET IT DONE. Because as you can clearly see… GMail, Android and other services combine to offer you more.

And that my friends… is mobile synergy.

[Via Official Google Mobile Blog]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. There is nothing stopping other companies like Yahoo! and Microsoft from creating their own androind apps that integrate / replace the existing contact list and calendaring functionality to give the same seamless syncing capabilities.

  2. Great point.

    But it DOES give Google an inherent advantage. The same way IE has an advantage by shipping by default on Windows even though people are free to download FireFox, Chrome, Opera, etc….

  3. I think thats the point of them giving Android away. They get the defaults, which is huge. Next step, get more phones out with Android.

  4. I am concerned about this FORCED integration into gmail – hurts the “Dont Be Evil” credo – as you NEED to have or create a gmail account upon initiating the G1.

    What happens when gmail goes down, like it had for approximately a day recently –

    What will happen to the load as Android takes off as this will be a frustration point for synching if not hindering the phone’s performance overall.

  5. ^While I think being “forced” to have a Gmail account to use Android raises some privacy concern’s you’re fine if the service goes down.

    (I put “forced” in quotes because you don’t HAVE to buy one after all.)

    Your contacts, mail, and calendar appts are all copied from “the cloud” and stored locally on the device. So any changes you make if/when Gmail is offline will be replicated to your account once the service is back online.

    Make sense?

  6. They’re not forcing you to get a Gmail account. If you don’t want a Gmail account then don’t use Android as an OS. The idea that Google would spend all this money creating a free OS and then let you use a bunch of competitors products, when there are Google options, is laughable. The whole point of Android is to get people using Google you dolt.

  7. @ Gav

    The dolt reference is harsh.

    Android’s main purpose is NOT to advance Gmail (tho an nice ancillary effect for them) but to get more people online on a more chronic basis thus a greater online and mobile advertising stream for them.

    The point I was making is that this harkens back to when IE was a forced inclution with Microsoft OS’ which went to court and then forced to be an option since it was determined that it essentially elbowed out competition.

    Of course Microsoft wanted their OS to be the gateway to their Office suites, browsers, etc but for fair competition you need to provide options.

    Google is NOT providing an option to using its gmail service when using Android – I sense another lawsuit to force the gmail account to be optional as the mobile OS competition heats up.

    This is my point as it parallels Microsoft’s former approach of being a “gateway drug” to create dependance onto all of its services which in turn becomes monopolistic.

  8. The purpose of the gmail account is simply to be your “backend” account. It’s the same way the sidekick service works (Andy Rubin’s last startup). You *must* have a backend account for the device’s backend server functionality to work.

    You have a backend service account (johndoe). This name also became your device’s push email account ([email protected]). The device logs into this account for remotely storing your data. You then have a desktop interface to access that data (emails, contacts, notes, calendars, photos, etc..) You could also send emails, create new notes, calendars, etc… all from The data would sync back and forth between cloud and device.

    Andy simply took this platform idea and instead of building something from scratch, he used google’s server powerhouse running their existing services.

    I don’t think the goal here is force you into using google’s suite of services, but rather it was simply an existing backend service they could use instead of building a new one that would essentially do the exact same thing.

  9. everytime I import my numbers from my sim card it shows up for about 5mins. and then they disappear again. Is this because of the sync? am I going to have to redo all of my 108 contacts one-by-one?

  10. The problem for me with the google integration, which is hard to break from my first experience…. the problem is that Google snoops, and accumulates data. They were the first company to break email privacy by electronically scanning your gmail for keywords to profile users. That’s you. and me. So I bought an Android smart phone to use as a phone and handheld organizer, useful gadget, etc., not to enter into a lifelong partnership with Google….
    The operating system, by the way, is open source, based on Linux. And since its open source, there should be alternative apps that can let you avoid Google asimilation. Anyone know of any?

  11. Sorry – have given up with my rubbish Samsung Galaxy phone. Just to see the calender I need a gmail account. Are you serious!? I do not want to change my email. This renders the phone useless. Time to recycle it in record time. I was not informed when buying the phone.

  12. This would be a good thing except the sync doesnt work after a couple of syncs. My phone keeps saying there is a problem with sync and it will be back shortly. Has not updated since november 2009. HTC HERO (Sprint) phone. Anyone know how to fix this since sprint doesnt know how?

  13. I don’t see the issue … if you don’t use gmail for your emails, then thats fine … it’s not like your previous phones allowed you to sync to hotmail, etc the way the android phones do. So what do you do if you have another email? Create a gmail account just for the android phone … simple and end of story. Don’t use the gmail app to send emails, instead use the email app and set up which ever emails you want … no problem. You can still sync your contacts with outlook, so thats all good.
    @Darren … so register a gmail account for the phone, and keep your emails the way you normally did. At least now if your phone gets stolen or lost, you still have your calendar.

  14. Personally I use two differentprograms to make sure that my contacts are able to be backed up. Outlook and google

  15. Can anyone advise me how to sync my outlook contacts to gmail? Or a process other than manually entering the data.

  16. Not a problem to sync outlook to Gmail, I just exported all my outlook contacts, 5,000+ of them, to a CSV file, using the export menu. I then went into gmail and imported from that same file. At this point I haven’t excamined the gmail imported contacts too closely to see what may be missing, but they all seem to be there.

    My problem is that I understand they are all supposed to automatically transfer to my droid Incredible, but they have not..only ten of them transferred and I’m confused. Seems like, since they’re all supposed to transfer to my phone automatically, there is no protocol to manually force them to transfer.

    Can anyone help me with this?

  17. My bad. Premature on that part of my last message that said “My problem is that I understand they are all supposed to automatically transfer . . . ” THEY DID. I just got in a hurry and didn’t wait for 5,000+ of them to automatically go to my Droid.
    Now, if I can just find a program that will as easily sync between outlook on my pc and my gmail contacts, I can use gmail as the control. Perhaps someone can refer me to one.
    However, I have a feeling that if, for instance, I modify a contact on my Droid, which modifies a contact in gmail, which modifies a contact in outlook, I’ll be losing some information that may have been in the original outlook contact. H-m-m-m. This is sounding too much like a blog.

  18. You idiots. You can have a google account with ANY e-mail you want.

    Sure I created a gmail acount, but then I created a GOOGLE account with my hotmail e-mail and have all the calendar and contacts and stuff there.
    There’s not really any forcing involved except for the few steps that it takes to create the account. Then you manage everything from the phone.

    Besides, complaining about that is like complaining that service provider A doesn’t allow you to use service provider B’s services. That’s being plain STUPID!

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