Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Switching: iPhone to Android (Email)

    Once you're contacts are moved over, you need to move your email.  Now, let's be frank:  Gmail is one of the killer apps on the Android platform.  Though many a BlackBerry addict may disagree, it is by far the best email client on any mobile device.  It supports all of the major Gmail features:  threaded conversations, labels, search, etc.  The Gmail client on Android is light years beyond the native client on the iPhone, and once you get used to it, you won't want to go back.

    The problem here, though, is that the Android Gmail client works with just Gmail.  If you're already a Gmail/Google user, this is a non-issue for you.  When you sign into your Android phone, your mail will come over automatically.  You don't have to fuss or fret.  It'll just be there.

    If you're not a Gmail user you're faced with some decisions.  Once again we come back to the crux of the Android platform:  really getting the best out of Android requires a commitment to Google.  So, what are your options?

    Switch to Gmail
    The most effective, but probably the most drastic method (if you're committed to your email provider), is to switch your email over to Google and use Gmail lock, stock and barrel.  There are a lot of ways to do this.  Probably the easiest is to just start using Gmail without bringing any old messages along with you.  Send out the "this is my new email" message and call it a day.

    However, that might not be an option for a lot of folks.  History is important, and those old email messages are your history.  Taking them with you might be high on your list.

    If your old email provider is a POP provider, you can import your email into Gmail using the import feature.  Google has a great tutorial on the subject which will walk you through importing from some common email providers.  This method should really work for any POP provider, though, so even if your provider isn't on the list, don't give up, try anyway.  Don't forget to check the box that you'd like to be able to send email as from that account, too.  That way, you can still be seen as sending email from your old email address.

    Pro Tip:  You can still use your old email account through Gmail.  Setting it up this way, via POP, means that Gmail becomes your mail client, just like Outlook or Thunderbird.  The feature that really makes it possible is the one that allows you to select which account you're sending from.  When you create a message, click on the top of the compose message window where your Gmail address is and you'll get the option to select any account that has been verified.  Since Gmail is pulling your messages from your old account, and since you're sending messages as from that account, no one will know that you've changed.

    Another method revolves around using your current email client (including the iPhone) to connect to Gmail via an IMAP connection.  Once you do that, you can copy over any messages that you would like to keep on Gmail.  Here's a tutorial from the Gmail FAQ on how to go about it.  There's a second page attached to the first, linked to configuration instructions under the "Great, how do I get started?" heading.  Look for the configuration methods for your primary email client.  Just keep in mind, this is going to be a bit easier on a desktop.

    Switching to Gmail for the Insane Over-Achiever
    The above IMAP method works if you have a few hundred or so messages to copy over.  But, what if you have more? A whole lot more?  I found a great tutorial on setting up a local email server on your machine (looks like it's rather Windows-centric) and using that email server to move your files over via POP.  This is by no means a simple process, though.  Just keep in mind that this is for the advanced (and slightly crazy) user.  Attempt at your own risk!

    But I Love My Email Provider
    So, switching to Gmail isn't for you?  Don't despair, you're not completely up the creek, though you may be in for a sub-excellent email experience.  If you're on Yahoo, there is a Yahoo mail app that you can place on your phone.  As well, most modern Android phones ship with a native email client other than Gmail.  You should be able to set up that email client to connect to your old email via POP.

    Wrap Up
    Moving to a new email provider can be tough, traumatic work.  But in the end, it will make your life better, insofar as your Android phone is concerned.  The Gmail client on Android is the best email client out there, matching all of the major Gmail features.  Using it is a sheer joy, especially when you come from such an archaic email client as the native iPhone client.

    But, if switching isn't in the cards for you, you will still probably have options.  The great thing about Android is that there's an app for most anything.  You can most likely find a good email app to work with.