Log in to your Google Account (Gmail) on your device [#TipoftheWeek]

Call it a PSA, because I'm hoping that most people who have a device should know this.  But if you have a friend or relative who has an Android device and you notice that they can't get apps from the Play Store, or they're saving their calendar appointments to 'phone' and not their account... do them a favour and remind them of this.

This is actually something I talked about some time ago... one of the 'must do' things.

Mainly this came about because I talked to a student who said they couldn't get any apps on their tablet in the Play Store.  Turns out (and I'm sure you can guess) they didn't set up their Gmail account.

Set up Google Account on Android SSO, step 3It's practically the first thing you'll see when you turn on your Android device for the first time.

I'm assuming some folks skip over it because they may not think they have a Google account, or don't have one.  If you don't.  Hit 'new'.

Why is this so important?

Several reasons.

You'll note the theme here is that essentially your account mirrors your information and experience across multiple devices and platforms... having a smartphone where things happen only on the phone doesn't make it very smart.  The smart part comes in when you can continue your experience from your desk to your phone and vice versa.

1. Apps / Games
With your phone logged into your Google Account for the Play Store, it logs what games you have installed and have paid for.  Not to mention even being able to access them in the first place.  Many games nowadays even let you sync your game data via your Google account.

Also, I can then go to the web version of the Play Store and if I see a game I want, I can click install and it'll just install to my device (if you have more than one, it'll ask which).

If my device dies and I get it replaced, on most newer devices it'll recognize the login and then just start pulling in the apps you had installed.  [note:  doesn't always 'automatically' work, but at least you have the list of which were and can start selecting them]

2. Your email
With your phone logged into your Google Account you'll get all your Gmail you get on your account.  It's up to date with read and unread... it's hard to even think of what life was like with POP3 accounts now.

Even drafts you work on are synced across.  [note:  you may have to manually sync some accounts, i.e. wait for it to load when you go into it on your device - you can set it up to sync a specific folder if it's something you use a lot]

Don't use Gmail?  Aside from the fact that you 'should' you can always set it up on the web to receive your current email account (i.e. if you used another POP3 account).

3. Your calendar
With your phone logged into your Google Account you use your calendar app and ensure you use the Google account when setting up new appointments (had to show my dad this a few times as his Note 2 was set to defaultly use 'phone storage' for his group).

The benefit of this is that then you can go to the Google calendar on the web and see the exact same info.  You can add in new events on the computer and they'll just automatically show up on the phone.

Isn't push awesome?  In the old days with my Palm I'd have to manually sync (it was a wonder when we got wireless sync options).

This is especially great as I tend to get phone calls to book a substitute teaching day and they'll ask if I'm free on a day.  Instead of saying "hey wait, let me look it up" and have to pull the phone away ... I can just go to the nearest computer and keep them on the line.  While I'm at the computer, put in the new date and know it'll appear on my phone.  [Bonus points if you ensure you put in all the proper info like location so that Google Now will alert you when to leave to get there on time]

note the 'Google Contact"
with the proper account chosen
4. Your contacts
With your phone logged into your Google Account all your contacts are sync'd up.  I can't tell you how many times a week I'd hear on Facebook at one point "Hey, lost my Blackberry, can everybody send me your info again".  I'd just laugh.

Google will take all your Gmail contacts and sync them into the 'People' app (or contacts app, depending on your phone).  Any adjustments you make to them on your phone or on the web are changed in both places pretty instantaneously.

Lose your phone, all you have to do is log back in on a new device and your information returns.  Often I'm at the computer and when someone calls looking for a friends info, instead of having to hold the phone away from my hear to go look it up I could just look at the web.

Bonus here is if you use Google+ it'll sync all those you've circled as well into your contacts (or at least their info that they would want you to see).


If you can't see the theme here, the idea is to centralize your info into one area ... that way it's accessible in multiple places... phone, tablet, computer... whatever.  There's plenty of other services as well:  Drive (cloud storage), Books, Movies, Android Device Manager, Chrome experience (bookmarks, searching), Youtube ...

Check out what services your Google Account syncs!  Go into settings/[Google]accounts and you'll see which of the Google services it syncs to your phone.  Untick the ones you don't use to save not only data but CPU cycles (for me I always remove Blogger and Currents).