Sporting big phones and checking email while on the move is something the elite normally do. But in this day and age, email on the go is reaching the masses and is now easier to use than ever before thanks to push mail. Being in touch with one another has never been easier. So read on to find out the secrets of the world of push mail
What is push mail?
So you’ve heard of push email, or perhaps you own a phone with push capabilities. But what does push actually mean, and how can it be useful to you? Firstly, it is important to learn what push isn’t: some phones fetch email after every 10 or 15 minutes — this is not push as the phone is checking your email server regardless of whether you have received a new message. In the case of push mail, there is a service that is constantly watching your email server for any new emails and will only activate your cellular data once a new mail has arrived, and will then push it to your phone.
How is it different from polling (POP)?
An email is normally sent to the recipient’s mail server, which is then downloaded when the user accesses the account using an email client such as Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, etc. Alternatively, the email will arrive at a web server in case the email is web-based such as Hotmail or Yahoo!. Post office protocol (POP) is used by email clients to download mail from a POP mail server. The server receives your email when you are offline and stores it there. The mail client you use sends a request to the POP mail server which then downloads the new emails your computer once you are connected to the internet. With an email client, the push is only the last step while sending an email, not while receiving.
When it comes to push mail, as the message reaches the mail server, it gets pushed directly to the recipient, informing the user that there is a new email waiting. Having this system on the move is what has attracted many users to move towards this new mode of keeping in touch instantaneously. There is a third-party service that acts as a go-between, constantly looking for a new email, offloading the task from the phone or the email service.
POP3 was a great breakthrough in email, but we needed a system where we could keep the email on the mail server itself so that we could connect to it from various machines instead of just our standard home computers. With POP3, once the email is downloaded to your PC, it is stuck there. It won’t be possible to read the same email on your laptop using that protocol. Internet mail access protocol (IMAP) is the best protocol when it comes to push mail or checking mail in general. With IMAP, the email stays on the mail server allowing you to check it from anywhere and from any device you choose.
A smart phone with push mail and your email protocol set to IMAP just brings you one step closer to be connected via email in the most optimum way possible.
What makes BlackBerry special?
The BlackBerry smart phone was the first of its kind to be craved by most executives. What made it special was the email-on-the-go feature that it offered, developed by Research In Motion (RIM) — the makers of BlackBerry products. The marriage of a full-QWERTY keypad, which made typing easier, the Blackberry phones also offered a push mail service which was very attractive to corporates. Initially, the BlackBerry email system had to be integrated with a company’s already present mail server for use of the push mail services. But once blood was tasted, everyone wanted the same kind of instant email access with services other than those related to their work life. That’s when the concept of push email exploded into the tech scene.
If you were to visit the web site of a mobile service provider such as Vodafone, Loop Mobile, Reliance Mobile and Idea, all of them have a separate BlackBerry section where they offer BlackBerry phones along with their services, which include push email. The average cost of this service is approximately Rs. 499 per month with a limit of 500 Kb, which is a total rip off, in our opinion. If you intend to go for an unlimited scheme, it would cost you around Rs. 999 per month. These charges differ when it comes to companies and business schemes.
Myths and problems revealed
One of the most prevalent myth is that push email is only possible through BlackBerry phones. This is not true. Most phones now come with Push Mail features and setting it up is as easy as just typing a username and password. There are of course extra costs involved, especially with regard to your data plan be it WAP, GPRS, EDGE or 3G — this will vary from Rs. 49 per month to Rs. 500 and more per month, according to the service you choose.
Companies such as Nokia have launched their own Push Mail applications — Nokia Messaging, for their S60 platform based phones with include N-series and E-series phones.
Another thing to be noted is that Push Mail goes easy on the battery of your mobile phone. Unlike browsing on your phone, where you are constantly connected to the internet, the phone’s data is only activated once a new mail has arrived at the mail server. When not using Push, your phone might check for new email every 15 minutes or so; during which the cell radio would be activated to check for new emails. This is a big drain on battery life.
One problem that push email faces is spam. If the user is prone to spam mail and does not have proper filters setup with his email account, then there is a possibility of getting spam mail every few minutes directly pushed onto your phone. This is definitely bad — if you’re not using an unlimited data plan you might end up paying a bomb thanks to this junk!
Receiving and sending emails instantaneously can grow into a bad habit for some. The term ‘Crackberry’ has become quite popular and describes a person who feels compelled to reply to an email as soon as it reaches his inbox.
There are some groups that also believe email has not been created for instant messaging: if the content in an email is really that important then it would be wiser to just contact the person via phone.
Push mail is a sought after service by those who want to be in touch all the time through email, or by those who need to make split-second business decisions. Sure information can be passed by calling the person, but there are some who might ignore what has been said on the phone, with email a to-do is present in black and white and works as a means of proof when needed. In the corporate world, an email tends to be more of an official statement, so for those users, it definitely does make sense to go for push mail, but for the rest, you need to ask yourself how important push email might be, before you dip your toes in and also consider email security.
Push mail applications and services
Emoze.com: This push mail application has two versions — Basic and Pro. The Basic version is free and lets you setup only one email account on your mobile phone. You can send and receive attachments only upto 100 KB with this basic version. The Pro version, on the other hand lets you setup multiple accounts and even allows you to create a folder on your phone where you can store emails. It works with Windows Mobile and Symbian based devices.
Goolel.in: Goolel is the Hindi word for Slingshot, which in fact was the name considered for this application. The Goolel application offers many services including push mail. All you need for this is a phone that supports Java MIDP 2.0 and a GPRS service.
Movamail.com: This is another Java based application that offers multiple features including push mail. MovaMail boasts of downloads in over 200 countries and support services such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, POP3 and IMAP accounts. This service is free to try for 30 days and after that costs $2.95 US per month.
Momail.in: Currently in the Beta phase, Momail offers the smallest and most optimized mobile email solution.