Is Gmail on Android Push or Pull?

Written by seamus islwyn
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Is Gmail on Android Push or Pull?
Both smartphones and tablet computers can run the Android OS. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

The Gmail app for the Android mobile operating system uses push technology to transfer e-mails from the Gmail server to your Android device. In a push e-mail system, the server takes the active role, only connecting to the client application when a new message arrives. Push e-mail technology has several advantages, and these make it well-suited for mobile operating systems like Android.

Push Email

A push e-mail service sends new e-mails to the client as they arrive on the mail server. The client takes a essentially passive role in the transaction, only connecting with the email service when the server notifies it that it should do so. The server "pushes" the email messages from the server to the client -- the Gmail app on the Android, in this case. The user can then open the email from within the client.

Pull Email

An e-mail client that uses a pull e-mail system, on the other hand, actively "asks" the mail server for new messages at a specified interval. The server waits for a connection from the client; if there are any new e-mail messages on the server when the client connects, it transfers them to the client. Most desktop computer e-mail clients use the Post Office Protocol, or POP3, to pull e-mails from the mail server.

Advantages of Push Email

Push e-mail has several distinct advantages, especially on a mobile device like the Android. The Gmail app on the Android only connects to the server when the user receives new e-mail messages; this helps to preserve the mobile device's battery power, as the Gmail app doesn't connect to the server when the inbox is empty. For the same reason, using a push e-mail system prevents the device from unnecessarily using mobile network bandwidth to check an empty mail server inbox.

Forcing Push

Due to network connectivity or other issues, the Gmail server may occasionally fail to instantaneously push a new message to your Android mobile device. If this occurs, you can force the server to push the new message to your phone from within the Gmail app. Launch the Gmail app and press the "Menu" button on your Android to open the app's settings. Tap the "Refresh" icon to force the server to push any new e-mails to your Android.

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