You can use Apple’s iCloud for email and contacts on your iPad, but there’s a good chance you already use Gmail and Google Calendar. iOS offers excellent support for Google accounts, so you can easily add your Google account and your email, contacts, and calendars will automatically sync with your iPad.
Your Google account data will be accessible on your iPad’s built-in apps, although Google also offers their own dedicated Gmail app. Here’s what you need to know.
Add Your Google Account
All you really need to do is add your Google account in your iPad’s Settings app. To get started, open the Settings app from your iPad’s home screen. Scroll down in the left pane and tap the Mail, Contacts, and Calendar category, then tap the Add Account option under Accounts.
Tap the Google logo to add a Google account.
You’ll be prompted to enter a name, email, password, and description for your account. The email address and password are essential for logging into your account, while the name you enter here will be shown as your name when you send emails from this account on your iPad.
The description field is for your own purposes, so give the account a suitable description. If you have a personal Google account and one for work, you could separate them by labeling them “Personal Account” and “Work Account”.
If you have two-step verification enabled to secure your Google account, you’ll need to create an application-specific password for your iPad rather than entering your Google account password. Click this link to access the Application-specific passwords page if you need to create an application-specific password. Enter a name like “Gmail on my iPad” on the page, click Generate Password, and type the password shown on the screen into the password field on your iPad.
Once you’re signed in, you’ll then be able to choose the type of data you want to sync. If you’ve already set up an account, you can view these settings by tapping the name of the account on the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen in the Settings app. You’ll probably want to sync all types of Google account data, but you can disable certain things if you prefer.
Your iPad uses two-way sync for chosen data. Mail, contacts, and calendar events will be synced both ways, so changes you make on the iPad will be synced to your Google account and any changes you make on the web or on other devices will be synced back to your iPad. This all happens automatically, so you don’t have to think about it.
If you choose to sync Notes, notes from the Notes app on your iPad will appear in your Gmail account under a label named Notes.
Access Your Synced Data
Your Gmail is accessible in the Mail app, which is the iPad’s built-in email client. The Mail app uses the IMAP protocol, so you have access to all of your email. Thanks to the nature of IMAP, any changes you make will also be synced – so if you read an email on your iPad, it will be marked as read on your Gmail account. Using it is simple; it’s just another email client.
The difference is in the way Gmail handles requests – and whether to archive or trash by default. You can make your own personal choices under the account’s Advanced settings from the Mail, Contacts & Calendar menu. You can choose to move discarded messages to trash or archive.
Contacts auto-complete as you type them into the appropriate field. This also makes your Google contacts available in other iPad apps that request access to your contacts. iOS 7 offers two-way syncing with Gmail contacts, so any new contacts you create on your iPad can be synced to your Google Contacts.
The Calendar app displays events from your Google Calendar. These upcoming calendar events will also appear in the notification center, which you can access by swiping down from the top of your iPad’s screen. Events you add on your iPad should also by synced to your Google Calendar account.
The Gmail App
If you don’t like the Mail app included with your iPad, you can choose to install Google’s Gmail app instead. The Gmail app provides an interface to your Gmail account provided by Google, so they can integrate more of Gmail’s features. The biggest advantage to using the Gmail app will be seen by those who rely on the service’s labels.
You’ll still want to add your Google account to your iPad, even if you do this. Google doesn’t provide an official Google Calendar app, so you’ll have to view your calendar events in the Calendar app included with your iPad. Syncing your contacts with your Google account also ensures your contacts will be available in all your iPad apps. You can also install unofficial third-party calendar apps like Sunrise Calendar that will display your Google Calendar events.
Do you prefer another app for accessing Gmail, Google Calendar, or your contacts on your iPad? Leave a comment and share any other apps you prefer!
Image Credit: Sean MacEntee on Flickr