Gmail, Android, Exhange, Hotmail,Calendar and Contacts and how to get it all to work

22 05 2016

This post is about getting Android, Gmail, Exchange, Hotmail (live or outlook), Calendar and Contacts to work just the way I want then to on my Android phone. I posted this after some recent changes to Android and Gmail broke my settings on my Nexus 6p.  Solving these issues gave me a deeper understanding of the way these technologies interact and so for my own reference and others I thought it worth posting.

My goal was and is to use the Gmail App on Android to connect to a Gmail email account, a Live (or Outlook or Hotmail) account, an Office365 (or Exchange account for work purposes).  Also to get these to work with the standard Calendar and Contact Apps which are part of the current build of Android – which on my phone is Android Marshmallow 6.0.1.  This was largely working okay until about a week ago (in May 2016) my contacts all disappeared from the phone.

To solve this issue I deleted my work’s Office365 account on my phone and then re-added it – pretty simple really.  A similar issue on my partners phone was solved by completing some system updates and a phone restart. So I’m not sure exactly what fixed the issue but it was at least partly resolved. As far as I could work out the issue was caused by a change to googles “Exchange Services” app.  The interesting thing about this App (for me at least) is that it’s difficult to find in the App Play store and although it’s listed as an App on my phone under Apps I was unaware of it’s significance. Although I’m sure there are other ways of locating the App in the play store (for me the only way) is to list all installed Apps via a web browser for my device (did this on my Windows computer). I then see the “Exchange Services” App listed.  It’s there you read comments like: “Auto updated while on WiFi overnight… Lost all previously synchronized settings and calendar. No idea why they forced this as it was working fine the way it previously was.” by Fahad Malik – 12 May 2016. Anyway the good thing was that this issue appeared to be relatively simply solved for my Office365 account but not so the Live (Hotmail/Outlook) account – more on that below. In fact the current/new Gmail App (with the Exchange Services App) now auto detected settings and all I needed was my email address and password to reconnect to my Office365 (Exchange) account – previously the server address needed to be entered manually. There had been an upgrade to Gmail itself prior see – https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/android/66740/gmail-android-now-supports-exchange-accounts which may have been in part responsible for the auto detection improvement.

With Office365 (Exhange) working and syncing email, calendar and contacts into the standard Android Apps everything appeared OK, except when I re-installed my live (Outlook, Hotmail) account it defaulted as an IMAP connection not as an Exhange connection.  This subsequently meant that my Calendar and Contacts from my Live account didn’t sync into the Calendar and Contacts App. This was a little annoying and I tried several ways to resolve the problem.  Firstly I successfully installed the Outlook App from Microsoft and for some reason when I did this the Contact information (but not the Calendar) information could be read by the standard Android App. This was OK but not ideal.  This lack of integration was a bit of a pain, however, the big problem was that when I went to work the Outlook App wouldn’t play nicely with the school’s Proxy service and perhaps as a result flattened my battery in less than a day.  The Outlook App had to go. After a little more research and trial and error I realised that I could in fact force an account connection to Live (Outlook, Hotmail) to use Exchange rather than IMAP.  The problem which I’d overlooked a number of times was that whenever I chose to setup a connection to Live email using “Exchange” it automatically adjusted to use IMAP. However, there was an option (neatly hidden by the virtual keyboard) to use manual setup. Choosing manual setup subsequently required me to know the server address of the Live email Exchange server. After a bit of trial and error I finally found that “s.outlook.com” worked. Finally I had all my email, calendar and contacts details syncing to the standard Android Apps on from my Live, Office365 and Gmail accounts.  Kind of back where I started after being problematic for a week or so.

Although not related to the other issues I decided to clean up my Calendars.  An issue which had existed for some time on my phone was that my Exchange account showed multiple calendars on my Android device.  However, at the same time I had long ago deleted the same additional calendars from Outlook.  Although this wasn’t hugely problematic it was annoying that my phone showed two additional calender’s which didn’t exist (to the best of my knowledge). On the verge of giving up I discovered the following post “Deleted Calendar Still Showing Up” https://community.office365.com/en-us/f/158/t/312498 and right at the end there was a solution. The offending Calendars were still sitting there as Deleted Items under Outlook. I subsequently deleted them from the Deleted Items folder and after a reinstall of the Account on my Android phone the difficult to remove Calendars were gone.

 

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