Gmail is an excellent free email service that can be configured automatically in iOS and OS X. Using the built-in “Gmail” option in iOS sets up Gmail with the IMAP protocol, but there is a better method.
IMAP is a great email protocol and a large improvement over legacy POP services, but there are some problems with using Gmail via IMAP, including duplication of draft messages when stored on the server and relatively slow push of new messages.
A better alternative is Exchange ActiveSync, which Google licensed from Microsoft in 2010 for use on mobile platforms that connect to Google’s services. Since then, iPhone users have had the option to set up access to their Google email, contacts, and calendars via Exchange, a platform that provides relatively faster push of emails and solves most of the quirkiness of Gmail on IMAP.
To set up Gmail with Exchange, unlock your iOS device and head to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account. Select “Microsoft Exchange,” enter your Gmail email address and password in the correct fields, and press “Next.”
On the next screen, enter m.google.com in the “Server” field and reenter your Gmail email address in the “Username” field. Leave the “Domain” field blank. When all the information has been entered, press “Next.”
If your Gmail address and password were entered correctly, you’ll be presented with your syncing options, which include Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. Turn on or off any features that you want to have access to on your iOS device and press “Save.”
Your Gmail email, contacts, and calendars will now be added to your iOS device and integrate with the built-in apps. You’ll notice faster push email and you’ll be able to sync stored drafts and sent messages on the Gmail servers. You’ll also notice that the “Archive” button for emails has been replaced with a more traditional trash can. Depending on your perspective and how you like to handle deleting or archiving email messages, this is either a good or bad change.
IMAP is a great email protocol and is often the only option for many email accounts. For Gmail users on iOS, however, Exchange may be a better choice and will make your Gmail experience on iOS less frustrating.