Push, POP email issues in webOS 1.3.1 | webOS Nation

Push, POP email issues in webOS 1.3.1

by Derek Kessler Wed, 25 Nov 2009 7:04 am EST

Email As we know that some of you have noticed, webOS 1.3.1 changed the way that email is handled with respect to POP access. If you’re not familiar with POP (Post Office Protocol) email, essentially the way the service is ‘supposed’ to work is that computers download the email from the server but do not communicate their status back to the server (e.g. the server will not know if you’ve read the email). This stands in contrast to IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), in which read, flagged, and deleted statuses are synced back to the server and other clients accessing the same account. To deal with the amount of email that can amass on a server, many POP users choose to have the server delete messages after they’re downloaded by the computer.

Prior to the most recent webOS update, POP email status didn’t work quite the way it was ‘supposed’ to work. Email used to actually be checked back against the server, and if the email had been deleted there it was then deleted on the phone, even if you hadn’t read it on phone. From a design standpoint, that’s not ideal POP behavior, as POP is supposed to download messages and ignore what happens on the server after that. In essence, POP on webOS used to work sort of like IMAP 'lite' email. This worked well for users that relied on POP for their email access (many ISPs only offer POP), as handling emails in bulk on their computer subsequently handled them in bulk on their webOS phones.

Not so after webOS 1.3.1. According to Palm, the update ‘fixed’ POP email in webOS such that it behaves the way it ‘supposed’ to behave: it downloads messages and ignores what happens to them on the server after that. If you happen to rely on POP email and get a lot of it (many ISPs have poor spam filters), then you’ll end up with a mess of email to handle on both your computer and phone. We don’t see any indications that Palm will be unfixing this anytime soon. And while we don’t like to see users flustered, the simple fact is that Palm moved to the standard and ‘correct’ implementation of POP and this is how it should have worked from the start. If you can, we highly recommend moving to an email system that supports IMAP.

POP isn’t the only field of drama for email in webOS 1.3.1. Many users, this blogger included, have been having a bad week getting the Email app to work correctly. Some aren’t getting push notifications at all, others are getting them sparingly, most with problems are having trouble just getting the phone to reliably connect to the server. Others are having these problems and they don’t even have push enabled, instead they’re polling the server on a schedule and still not getting emails as they should. And yet more can’t even get their phones to manually refresh the email, which was more or less always a fail safe way to get your emails updated. And we can’t just blame it on email service, as users are reporting this problem with Gmail, Yahoo, Exchange, and even IMAP servers.

Before 1.3.1 if issues like this arose one could usually restart the phone or remove and re-add the email account, but now it seems that not even a full Doctoring can restore email functionality. Or sometimes it does. And sometimes it only restores full email functionality for a brief time. In short, it’s frustrating as all get out and very much hit-or-miss. If like me, much of your life revolves around email, this is more than an inconvenience.

Unlike with the POP tempest, Palm didn’t do this on purpose. We have been assured that they are aware that there are some bugs with Email in webOS 1.3.1 and that it is something they are working to fix. That fix, which will come via a beautiful over-the-air update, is something that Palm hopes to have ready soon. In the meantime, I’m stuck having to leave the Gmail website open on my Pre when I’m away from my computer. It’s not an ideal solution, and I'm certainly not happy with it, but at least it works. Kind of.