Gmail Contact Synching Bug

Last fall I got a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. I love the S3. It’s an awesome piece of technology.

Sometime overnight a couple of evenings ago, it developed a hardware problem and the next day it would no longer boot. It was working perfectly when I went to bed, but when I woke up something had gone wrong.

So, I went by a Sprint store. The technician tried to do a hard reset, but no go. He ended up giving me a new white S3.

I ended up having a bit of a problem getting my Gmail contacts to synch to the new phone from Google’s cloud. After a bit of research, I discovered there is an apparent bug in Google+. If you have Google+ friend synching enabled on your Android phone, it ends up preventing the Gmail contacts from synching to the phone.

The work-around to the problem is to turn off Google+ synching. Once I turned off Google+ data synching  in the the phone settings, the Gmail contacts instantly started synching over. I’ve got quite a large contact list since the list was originally developed in Windows and has been synched over to a number of different phones as well as OS/X, so it took a while to synch over.

I don’t need the Google+ contact list to synch over to the phone anyhow, so I will keep this Google+ app feature turned off. I had noticed even before this happened that contact updates didn’t synch properly to or from the old phone, so it is likely that the bug in the Google+ synching has been around for a while and as of this writing is not resolved.

So, if you get a new Android phone and you are having trouble getting your Gmail contacts to synch over to the new device, make sure that Google+ synching is disabled then cloud synching of your contacts should begin working just like it’s supposed to.

New Gmail is Rubbish

Last night, Google pushed out the latest Gmail update for Android and I’ve spent the whole of today cursing the new app. What was a productivity tool has become an exercise in frustration and frankly I want to punch whoever thought up these changes (Disclaimer – Geek News Central does not condone any acts of violence).

Apparently Google thinks that there are only two types of people: those who archive and those who delete. If you are someone who archives and deletes regularly, you’re in trouble as Google has really screwed up the way archive and delete work together. To me it seems obvious that worthless emails should be deleted as soon as possible and that useful emails should be archived after reading. Google seem to have got it the other way round, making it impossible to delete worthless email without opening it. Here’s how Google has messed it up.

Gmail has a option in “General settings”called “Archive & delete actions”. It controls whether the archive and delete (wastebin) icons appear above an email. You can have only the archive icon, only the delete icon or both at the same time. I like having both so I can delete or archive emails quickly and as necessary. No problem so far, but….

Gmail OptionsGmail Icons

In the Conversation list, you can swipe emails off the screen. In the previous version, you could choose the behaviour directly – either no swiping, swipe to archive or swipe to delete. In this version, the swiping behaviour in the Conversation list is derived from the “Archive & delete actions”. Fine if you just archive or just delete, but in its wisdom, Google has chosen archiving to be the swipe behaviour if you choose to have both the archive and delete icons in show above the email.

No Delete

This is RUBBISH. Think how it works….I have a near-spam email that I have no interest whatsoever in reading. I want to swipe it into oblivion but I can’t because that would only archive it. I have to open the email before I can hit the delete button. But if I change the settings so that I can swipe to delete, archiving becomes a two-step operation – options menu and then archive. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Google, simply let people choose the swiping behaviour for themselves rather than forcing your useless assumptions on people.

Get Ready for Gmail Revamp – New Inbox on Desktop and Mobile Gmail Coming


Google has been doing some major updating as of late to try and make it all work together. Gmail is one of those items that is getting a revamp. Today on the Official Gmail Blog, Product Manager Itamar Gilad announced the new features of this version to Gmail.

From the Gmail Blog: We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more. All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around.

The new Gmail inbox will include tabs to organize different emails. Inbox groups (as Google calls it) will organize mail into categorized tabs. So spammy posts can go to an “Offers” tab and friends can be put into another tab.

desktop[1]

The mobile version of Gmail will also have this option. You will need to download from Google Play or Apple iOS App Store to get these features.

If you don’t like the new inbox, simply switch it off and it goes away.

This feature is rolling out slowly. When you get the new feature, you will see a “Configure Inbox” option in the settings (the gear icon on the top-right).

Quick tip: Back out of the new Gmail Compose

Last week Google began rolling out its brand new Compose feature, a version that had been a part of Labs for testing over the past few months. Originally, it appeared that the roll out of that feature to all users was irrevocable, but now we have learned that is not actually the case….yet.

As it turns out, Google has built in a way to go back to the old compose feature and, no, this is not part of the company’s annual raft of April Fool’s jokes.

When you click the Compose button and receive the new pop-out box that it generates, simply move your mouse to the bottom right of the screen and click the down arrow that appears there. From here you will find an option to “Temporarily switch back to the old compose”. Its that simple. However, the resulting warning does let you know that this feature will be going away “soon”.

gmail compose switch

Major Gmail update rolls out to Android

gmail logoGoogle may be the company we love to hate lately, but there is no denying that it dominates many markets, like search, advertising and mobile. The company also has one of the most popular web-based email services on the internet. Today it finally rolled out an anticipated update to its Gmail app for Android and it brings the features we had been promised.

The new app rolled quietly out to the Play store this morning and users should receive the update to their Android devices automatically, if they have that feature enabled. Otherwise you will need to manually install it.

The bigger question is, what do you get in this latest version? If you are fortunate enough to have a device running Jelly Bean (4.1 and up) then there is great new feature — the ability to reply, archive or delete from notifications, meaning there is no need to open the actual Gmail app.

For those running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or newer, you will get faster search (including offline) and bug fixes. Those stuck on 2.2 and newer devices will get a new Labels API for 3rd-party app developers and some performance improvements.

Obviously all updates from 2.2 up are available to those running Jelly Bean, but that is sadly still a minority of Android customers.

Gmail 4.2 for Android Still Available

A few days ago Android Police posted an exclusive video showing the next version of the Gmail app.  Version 4.2 includes several new features that users have wanted for some time now, like pinch to zoom in emails, swiping away emails to archive them, reporting emails as phishing scams and a lot more.  At the time, they also posted links to the download of the .APK file, but Google asked them to take the links down and the site complied.  The folks at XDA Developers also complied with the request but, as you probably know, things posted online never really go away.

If you  do some searching around you will see that the file is still available, but only a bit harder to find.  Hint: you can click here.  Before you get too excited though, there are a few things you should probably know.  Most importantly, your device needs to be rooted in order to install this update.  You will also need to have a phone or tablet running Android 4.0 or 4.1. and you will need follow several hacky steps to get it up and running.  You can find all of the steps detailed over at The Android Soul.

This has been a good week for Google app updates with, not only this new version of Gmail, but also a nice update to the Google Play Store (now at version 3.9.16).  The Play Store update, unlike the Gmail update, has already begun rolling out to users, but if you haven’t received it then you can also grab the .APK file, which Google is NOT asking to be taken down.  The new Gmail should begin rolling out very soon.

Gmail in Google Search

Gmail in Search When I opened up Google search page this morning I noticed that on the right hand side of the screen are the words Gmail results. I had signed up for this when it was offered back in the beginning of August. First a little background, I work from home and I am the only one that uses the computer. So I don’t have some of the security concerns that other people might have. However if I was using my computer at a coffee shop there are several ways to turn the option off. The first is on the page itself.   If you go up to the small globe on the right hand side of the windows just below the search bar and click on it, this will hide those results. The second way is to click on the gear and go to your search setting and go down to Personal results and click on “Do not use personal results”.

If you choose to keep show personal search on and you click on Gmail results it will take you to the search results on your Gmail page. If you click on “show results” you can view the subject line of the last five messages with that search word in the subject line. If you do a search for an individual you will get the subject line of the last five messages they sent you. If you click on one of the subject lines a page with that email message or conversation will appear.

There are a few things that I noticed while using it for short period. The first is the words have to match exactly including capitalization. The second is when you first start using it, it is not clear what does what until you click on it. On good side until you click on a choice nothing shows, so you don’t have to worry about Gmail results just popping up. If you are on a public computer and you are signed into your Google account and you are worried about clicking on it accidentally, I would recommend turning the option off.  It will not be available to Google App accounts. Finally I did not receive an email confirmation, it just appeared

Protecting Your Digital Assets

Two FactorMat Honan’s story (as covered by Todd in the latest podcast) showed me that the strongest password in the world is worth nothing if it can be reset by a straightforward social engineering-based attack. I’m sure Apple and Amazon will be looking hard at their policies and procedures but for the individual, there’s also much to learn from the episode.

i) Two-factor authentication. There’s no doubt that this is a good thing and I enabled it on my Gmail account last night. Turning it on is easy, but it’s a pain in the ass for the first few hours as you re-login to all your Google-based services. With several regularly used PCs, email clients and umpteen mobile devices, it takes a bit of time to get them all setup correctly. Touch wood, now that I’ve been through the re-login process, things are largely back to normal.

ii) Backup, backup, backup. For at least part of the story, Mat is entirely to blame. If there’s only one copy of any piece of data, it might as well not exist. Never mind hackers; theft, damage and accidental deletion make it all too easy to lose data, especially with mobile devices. Disk space is cheap, so even if you have just one PC, have a working set of folders, a backup set of folders and also make copies on a regular basis to a USB drive, which you disconnect from your PC when not in use and preferably store somewhere else.

iii) It’s your data. Convenient as “the cloud” is, remember it’s your data and your responsibility to keep it safe. If you push information directly to the cloud, don’t forget to include this information in your backup routine. Google has tools to download data from its services. Or don’t bother with someone else’s cloud and build your own, using a PogoPlug or similar.

iv) Download email using POP3. I use web-based Gmail and IMAP-enabled apps to manage my email and if email is deleted from Gmail…poof, it’s all gone. By using a POP3 email client like Thunderbird, you can have a copy on your PC as well.

v) Spread the load. Convenient as it might be to have all your eggs in one basket, either with Apple or Google, consider spreading your digital assets across different services, e.g. email on Gmail, work files on Dropbox, personal files on Box, photos on Flickr. If someone does compromise one of your accounts, all is not lost in one go. But don’t use the same password across all the systems.

vi) Remote kill-switch. The ability to kill mobile devices remotely is very handy if they are stolen but there’s a risk that the kill-switch can get into the wrong hands as in this case. However, the benefits probably outweigh the risks in that you are far more likely to lose your device than be hacked, so it’s perhaps better to focus on minimising the fall-out from both physical loss and a remote wipe.

There’s certainly plenty of food for thought there and even if you only take on one or two of the suggestions above, you’ll make yourself much harder to attack while lessening the impact.

Picture courtesy of Brian Ronald.

GNC-2011-10-13 #713 Yahoo Scam!

Yahoo gets caught up in a you scratch my back and I will scratch yours deal with TechCrunch, when will they ever learn. Lots of content to share tonight as always and some important announcements at the beginning. If show notes are a mess blame Langley and Tom as I was chatting with them in the chat room while doing the show notes.

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GNC #686 Now Your Bank is Tracking You!

Internet connection died half, way through my show tonight. No idea what happened but it made for an interesting show. The Blue Man makes an appearance plus a lot more cool tech, news, and information. Huge Mahalo to our Ohana for your continued support of the show.

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