Through a native client for the BlackBerry, Google's GMail rapidly becomes incredibly useful and usable to mobile users. To assist mobile users in experiencing GMail for Blackberry, this article focuses on installation of the client application.
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Note: Gmail IMAP is no longer officially supported for Blackberry users: http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=78882
From search to email to office productivity and beyond, if you have any familiarity with Google's offerings, you know that all you need is a Web browser to use them. True for your desktop, laptop, and netbook, this also applies to mobile devices like your BlackBerry. Owing to constraints like limited screen real estate and connectivity, pared-down versions of Web pages (written in, or converted to, WML) are often made available for mobile devices via WAP browsers. While certain applications (e.g., Google Search and Google Reader) are relatively well suited to the constraints typical of mobile platforms, others (e.g., GMail and Google Docs) are not. Fortunately, Google has made available a stand-alone version of GMail that runs natively on the BlackBerry. Google's GMail for the BlackBerry native client is feature/functionality rich and a pleasure to use. Although there is much more to share about GMail for the BlackBerry, attention here focuses on installing the client; configuration is the topic of a follow-on article.
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Installing the GMail for BlackBerry
To acquire the GMail client for the BlackBerry you have two options:
Using your desktop, laptop or netbook, open http://www.google.com/mobile/blackberry in your favorite Web browser. Now look for the box with the dark-blue button that reads "Send link to my phone". If you enter your phone number, Google will send a link to your mobile device via an SMS (text) message. (Caution: I am sure this works well if you have a cell phone with a US-based number. I live in Canada, and on entering the number of my mobile phone, am presented with the error dialog (in red): "Invalid phone number." Although I have not explored this in any detail, I suppose there are some business and/or technical reasons for the restrictions on the SMS gateway Google uses.)
If you were unable to use the send-link service described above, or prefer not to use it, you can simply open the page http://m.google.com using the built-in Web browser on your BlackBerry. (There are numerous Web browsers available for the BlackBerry. The procedure outlined here has been tested numerous times with the built-in browser. You may, however, be able to use other browsers successfully.)
Once you have the http://m.google.com Web page open on your BlackBerry you will see that you can download a bundle of Google applications for the BlackBerry or individual applications. Because here we will focus just on the GMail application, use your Web browser to select the link corresponding to GMail. After the Web-page request is processed, and the page is loaded, you should see the GMail logo with "Install Now" beside it. The logo and the "Install Now" text are both links that will initiate the installation process. Go ahead and click on one of these to proceed.
If you have ever installed an application over-the-air on your BlackBerry, the download screen will be quite familiar to you. The BlackBerry download screen identifies the application name, version, vendor, size and description. For example, I am downloading version 2.0.6 of the GMail client for the BlackBerry. This version has a size of 423 kb. Once you have reviewed this information, and are interested in proceeding with the download and installation, click on the "Download" button. The download shouldn't take more than about 15 seconds. (Of course, your mileage will vary depending on the signal strength of your connection, etc.)
Once the download and installation has been completed, a dialog box will appear to confirm the same. You should now notice the familiar GMail icon on the Home Screen of your BlackBerry. Once you have identified this icon, you are ready for the next article in this series: Configuring your GMail client for the BlackBerry.