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Update: Google says iOS 4 update problems with email sync now fixed

Summary:There were widespread reports of Google Apps and Microsoft Exchange not working after users install iOS 4 update on first day.

Update, Wed June 23rd, 10 am PT: Google says that as of Tuesday, most of the sync issues should be fixed. According to the statement by 'Advisor Angela', the slowdown was not caused by any technical bugs related to iOS 4, but simply due to the update forcing too many users at once to re-download all of their data from Google's servers. I've bolded the interesting bits:

The sync issues with email, calendar, and contacts for devices using Google Sync should now be resolved.

Yesterday’s release of iOS4 and the subsequent re-syncing of data by tens of thousands of users led to a high level of demand which overloaded our servers, disrupting Google Sync services for all devices. Our engineering teams have been working nonstop to add more resources and stabilize the service, and have made several improvements to ease the problem. Sync performance should be much improved now, and we’ll continue to monitor it closely.

Please note that Google engineers have tested a pre-release version of iOS4, and are continuing the certification process with the final build. We’re using it internally and it seems to work well. We’ll post an announcement to this forum when our tests are complete and if we find any compatibility issues with the upgrade.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience this recent outage has caused. We use the service too and we know how frustrating it can be when it’s not working well. We’re working to improve the quality of the Google Sync service, and thank you for your patience. We recognize the importance of increasing the reliability of our system and will continue to make improvements towards that end.

Sincerely, Angela

Update, Tuesday July 22, 10:30 am PT: Google employees posted several updates in their user forums yesterday and today. They don't single out Microsoft ActiveSync or iOS 4, instead admitting to"unplanned maintenance" and "sync delays for mail, calendar and contacts on all devices" that "coincided with today's release of iOS4 from Apple and reflect additional load due to the upgrade."

In the most recent message posted Tuesday at 8:10 am PT, Google says that "unfortunately new mail delivery will still be slow for many users. Sorry things didn't wrap up as quickly as I thought they would yesterday.  I don't have an ETA to resolution at this point, but the team is actively hustling to improve performance and stabilize service for you."

I pinged Microsoft's PR late Monday for a comment on re: Exchange ActiveSync, but no reply so far. Meanwhile, problem reports continue to crop up on Twitter.

Balancing out all of the enthusiastic user reports and media reviews of iOS 4's new consumer features (multi-tasking + Pandora music = Killer App) is some news of concern for iPhone-using enterprise workers.

There are widespread reports on Twitter today from users who say they lost access to their e-mail, contacts or calendar on Google Apps or Microsoft Exchange after installing iOS 4 on its first day.

On a Google support forum, a Google employee called 'MrEvan' confirmed the problem's existence in the late afternoon, and promised a a fix within the hour. He did not disclose the cause of the problem.

Important note: this problem only appears to affect Google Apps, the small-business/enterprise package. I'm running the Google iPhone App, which includes GMail, Calendar, etc., on my iPhone 3GS with iOS 4, and everything comes down fine. But then so do my Google and Hotmail e-mails in the iPhone's Mail app - those continue to work.

Some are blaming something in how iOS 4 interacts with Microsoft's ActiveSync technology, which is used by Google Apps and Exchange to synchronize e-mail, contacts and calendar between server and iPhone.

Jason Hiner, the influential editor-in-chief of IT user site, TechRepublic.com, said he was able to get his Calendar and Contacts from Exchange, but not his e-mail. Via Twitter, he blamed his company's use of Exchange 2003, adding that "sounds like people on Exchange 2007 and 2010 are doing ok."

As of late Monday night, neither Microsoft nor Apple had officially commented. Ironically, one of iOS 4's touted new features is support for multiple Exchange accounts via ActiveSync.

Not all enterprise workers are having similar problems. Sybase's iAnywhere Mobile Office client lets users securely access their Exchange or Lotus Notes calendar, mail, tasks and contacts. A quick search of Twitter turned up no reports of major problems. That jibes with my own experience, as an iPhone 3GS owner who had upgraded to iOS 4 and found no problems with Mobile Office afterwards (though, admittedly, we at Sybase internally use Lotus Notes for our e-mail, not Microsoft Outlook/Exchange).

Judging by past history, we can probably expect a fix for the iOS 4 problem from Google, Microsoft or Apple within several days, if not by the day's end.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apps, Cloud, Collaboration, CXO, Google, IT Employment, Microsoft, Software

About

Eric Lai tracks the latest news and trends in enterprise mobility. A veteran tech journalist most recently covering enterprise software for Computerworld, Eric joined Sybase, an SAP company in April 2010. Eric's views are his alone and do not necessarily represent those of SAP. This blog is sponsored by SAP.

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