This is a response to David Murphy's post in PCMag, itself a response to the original Google notice. (BTW, Kudos to Google for stating a clear end-of-life of specific products, with definite dates and alternatives. I wish all vendors had such clear transparency).
Push for iOS Native App
According to David, Google's dropping support for ActiveSync for free Gmail users means that push email is no longer an option on the native iOS email client. The user would have to use the Gmail app to support push. This isn't technically correct. As we already know, ActiveSync is not really push - it leaves a client connection open and effectively polls, unlike the BlackBerry real push. IMAP, including Google's server implementation, supports the IDLE verb for effectively the same type of long polling that ActiveSync uses. The iPhone client apparently does not. Nor does the Android client.
IMAP equals delays?
David also claims that Windows phone users accessing Gmail over IMAP will have significant delays. That is not our experience where regularly emails appear in Gander, even with the one minute checking interval, prior to them appearing in the Gmail client. So clearly IMAP is not a slower delivery mechanism. Any delays will likely be because mobile users will now have to using polling instead of the option of using push. There may not be much impact here, but it is a potential advantage for Gander that does the polling for the user offline.
CalDAV does not support invitations
According to the user comments, Google's switch to CalDAV means that calendar events created using iOS cannot add invitations. That is certainly true today in iOS. I don't know yet if this is a limitation of the protocol or of Apple's implementation of the protocol.
Speculation as to the "Real Reasons" Google is dropping ActiveSync support
Pure speculation on my part: the PCMag author got it wrong. Here are the real reasons Google is dropping support for ActiveSync:
- Excessive royalty fees to Microsoft on Android. HTC, Samsung and other Android partners are paying Microsoft $5-10 per device sold. I can't find the reference now but this is likely somewhere in the order of $1B pure profit for Microsoft. For consumers who never need Exchange support, this makes no sense. So Google had to develop alternative protocols for calendar and contact sync.
- Precluding the new Outlook 2013 from accessing Gmail. Now Microsoft will have to adapt Outlook to use the new protocols rather than relying only on ActiveSync.
So What Does It Mean for Gander?
This user comment says it well:
"Awww man. I don't want to use the gmail app on iphone. I like the unified mailbox in iPhone for my various email accounts. I don't want to have to use two email apps."
The unified inbox is great for me as well. I still think we should add support for multiple accounts sooner rather than later in Gander both for multiple Gmail accounts as well as other IMAP servers. Since the Gander backend is effectively doing the battery efficient polling on behalf of the user, the inbox is always up to date when accessing Gander.
Another positive note is that Gmail will continue to support and improve their IMAP implementation, which is already excellent.
There is another interesting opportunity that this opens. ActiveSync already supports some lightweight MDM features like remotely wiping email. IMAP does not. One could add features to mimic ActiveSync's MDM features so Google Apps admins could leverage control over a third party client that they will now lose with iPhone clients (or perhaps never had)...
- The Verge: "Google makes Gmail sync harder on rival platforms by dropping Exchange ActiveSync for consumers"
- ZDNet: "Google move to drop ActiveSync support nudges you to Apps"
- And our own video on ActiveSync: "Mo' Data, Mo' Problems E06: ActiveSync"