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Severe Windows Phone 8 bug rears its head for Gmail users

It looks like some users who have Gmail on their Windows Phone 8 devices are experiencing syncing issues that eventually cause the email app to crash. The problem seems independent of hardware (so 8X and 920 users are affected) and is tied to Gmail specifically.

The problem occurs with the People Hub and linked contacts constantly syncing. Likewise, when people head to their Gmail inbox, it too is stuck on a constant sync and may even crash when one attempts to scroll the message list. Over in our forums, user moc426 made the above video of the phenomenon occurring, a test which site WinSource has also validated as happening on their HTC 8X.

Besides the app crashing, constant failed-syncing of anything is never good and may be related to all of those battery-life complaints. To paraphrase the internet: 'This kills the phone'.

Now for even worse news: deleting the account on the phone will do nothing to fix this and in fact it requires you hard reset the device to stop the syncing...

Causes?

This appears to be tied to Google’s non-standard implementation of IMAP2  and may depend on which method you use to set up Gmail. In other words, seeing as this problem just popped up, Google may have altered something on their backend in the last 48 hours resulting in these stability issues.

On Windows Phone 8 when you set up a Google Mail account you are offered two options: ‘Email only’ or ‘Email, contacts and calendar’. That latter option is the push-IMAP2 version while ‘Email only’ is POP and will give you just 15-minute sync periods.

Although we have not yet verified we’re going to bet that the issue is due to Google’s ever-changing IMAP2 settings, which are having a severely negative impact on Windows Phone. Because of that we recommend users perhaps forgo the ‘Email, contacts and calendar’ option and just use ‘Email only’ as POP tends to be more stable.  

A third method, which we have not verified, would be to set it up as an Exchange ActiveSync account, (Even Rene Ritchie over at iMore suggests this method as Google doesn't play nice with Apple products either.)

  • Settings
  • Email + Accounts
  • Add an Account
  • Advanced Setup
  • Enter in Gmail email address/Password
  • Exchange ActiveSync
  • Domain = blank
  • Server = m.google.com

Once again, we cannot verify at this point if the above method works (or even if it’s different from the automatic Google email setup) but it may be worth a shot for those of you need contact and calendar sync.

We’re contacting Microsoft over the matter for guidance and will follow up if any new information comes forward. In the meantime, may we suggest that you start considering moving to a more standardized service like Outlook.com? You can read our previous articles and tutorials on how to do that here: http://www.windowscentral.com/tags/outlookcom

Have a work around or any insight on this issue? Share with the rest of us in comments.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

128 Comments
  • I've used the ActiveSync method for google for a long time. Works quite well, better than imap in my opinion.
  • ActiveSync not only works better than Gmail Imap sync, but it will also sync your tasks which the standard Google Account doesn't. Highly recommend it.
  • Really, it syncs your Google Tasks?? This is good to know... any more details on this? Does doing it the ActiveSync way also sync my Google contacts?
  • Google is doing it on purpose. :-) Let the conspiracy theories begin...
  • I knew it!
  • 100% agree, I would not be shocked at all if google made the changes on purpose to try to throw a proverbial wrench in the works for not only wp but apple too. So glad I do not use GMail......
  • +1
  • +1
    This is no coincidence
  • Google are sooo fast.  The advertisement I get on this page is this:
     
    Ask Gmail Tech Support - 18 Tech Support Reps Are Online! Questions Answered Every 9 Seconds. 
    JustAnswer.com/Gmail
  • Intentional by google I imagine. Just like they intentionally introduced lag in the IE auto complete when entering text in the search field.
  • Lag in IE is part of the UX.
  • 1999 called and confirmed that you escaped
  • Netscape is looking for you.
  • LOL!!!
  • I set mine up as an exchange account. Is this unique to those who set it up as a separate Gmail account?
  • Another pathetic attempt on Google's behalf to sabotage WP
  • Thats a bummer of a bug. I am sure MS will fix it. But I'm glad I kicked Google to the cerb when I switched to Windows Phone 6 months ago. Havn't looked back, especially since the wonderful Outlook.com took over most of my e-mail. 
  • I removed my google account yesterday and my 920 hasn't crashed since. I now 97% believe it was the culprit.
  • Or maybe it's MS's way of telling you to use an outlook acount, seeing as how they're trying their hardest to seperate themselves from Google and their Android antics.
  • I'm using Gmail and only syncing email, and I've never had a problem. 
  • You can't really call it syncing when you use POP to retrieve mail.
  • So many issues with WP8. I hope all is fixed when I get my yellow 920, which hasn't shipped yet.
  • I've had this issue with and without gmail synced to my phone. Before and after a a phone reset. I'm syncing exchange, 2 outllooks and facebook. I can't email, message or post from the Me app. In "accounts" it just says that all my accounts are syncing constantly. Phone reset fixed it for 1 day but it's back at it again.
  • What other issues are there? I have been running the Lumia 920 for a couple days without any problems yet myself .. My gmail has not crashed nor has any sync problems as of this moment .. Is this if you sync your contacts as well cuz I only sync my email with google ..
    *EDIT* "The problem occurs with the People Hub and linked contacts constantly syncing" ya guess thats why mine has been running and still is running just fine..
  • It's not with WP8 its with Google
  • I am having the exact same issue, I have an Exchange account for work and 2 hotmail accounts, mine and my wife's.  After I added the 2nd hotmail account, anything e-mail and contact related crashes and goes back to the home screen.  The 2nd hotmail account does not show up under email+account, but that screen has all the accounts greyed out and 'synching..'  Reboot does not fix the problem.
    Edit... someone else mentioned Skype, I did install that and 'merged' my accounts before the issue started occuring.  Now my Exchange mailbox won't even open.
    edit again :)  removing Skype and rebooting the phone this problem for me!!!
  • Did removing Skype solved the battery issue for you?
    Could you please confirm.
  • Yeah, well, with the slew of issues (day light photo softness, short battery life due to NFC/GPS? and overheating, sharp rattling sound in the vibrate), and now this (syncing problem), I already tried to cancel my Premier order from AT&T.
    With Premier, I pay $199, not $99, so heck, I am not about to pay that much to endure these software troubles (if they can fix all with software at all). I will wait till they iron out software bugs.
  • Both my google account and google apps account work fine, configured using m.google.com as the server.  Strange.. I dont get the two radio button options for syncing, i get three individual checkboxes to choose syncing calendar, contacts and email.
     
     
  • You using ActiveSync I think
  • not having any issues with my 920 and Gmail
  • I have mine set up with the second option of 'email, contacts, and calendar - no issues (as of yet)'.
    I believe this implementation has to be Exchange ActiveSync as Google does not allow syncing contacts over IMAP. WP8 is probably just automating the step of typing in the server inforamation.
  • Why is that I can set flags in my Gmail, but not my Windows Live mail?
  • Not getting my mail via the Gmail man, no problems here. :)
  • So is this what is killing batteries?
  • More than likely... makes sense to me more than the theories of GPS/Location services or anything else.
    I don't use Google for anything, and I've not had any problems except when I had Skype/Facebook signed in all day on Monday. Monday was harsh, but I was in low-signal building with two always on services polling for updates. Not a good combo.
    Still, I have to wonder... who the hell still uses IMAP/POP solutions anyway? ActiveSync is winning. Duh! :)
  • No. I have battery issues. NO Gmail.
  • No. I have battery issues. NO Gmail.
  • I would say this could add to it, but I have battery issues, and NO Gmail
  • So let me get this straight, you have battery issues?
  • Constant sync isn't a problem for battery in general, it is just a problem on windows phone, bc the current version doesn't support imap idle, so its actively syncing the whole fuckin time, even there's nothin to sync... That sucks
  • Switch to Outlook.com and sync with Exchange Active Sync. So much better than Gmail's rubbish IMAP implementation and Google's privacy invasion.
  • I'm not having any issues with Gmail either. I have my Windows Live, Twitter, Gmail, Nokia and Facebook all running. I also using linnked inboxes option.
  • My Google account is set up to sync email, contacts, and calendar. No issues here. I do have it set to download new content as items arrive instead of at some interval. My server shows m.google.com and SSL is enabled.
  • I just forward my gmail to another mail account.
  • I use google mail contact and calendar on wp7.5 on L900 without any problem. So how is this WP8 problem caused by Google alone. Even if Google use non-standard IMAP protocol, standard software design must allow service to degrade gracefully and not chocked up like this. I'll put as much blame on Microsoft as on Google for this mishaps.
  • google is at it again eh... i wonder when authorities will step in and do something about this crap they are pulling, we still don't have a single full working app from them yet and they are harassing us on two fronts already =.= (youtube/gmail)
  • Haven't had issues with gmail, i had it set up to sync manually and only email no contacts or calendar. 
  • Needed a reason to switch to outlook, thanks Google!
  • This is happening on WIndows 8 Pro as well.  I have a gmail account added to the Mail application, and it is experiencing the exact same issues.
  • My wife has an htc 8x and also Gmail. It also is constantly syncing. Yesterday all was fine. It started today. I really hope this gets fixed!
  • Have been using the Active Sync/ Exchange solution since WP7 with no issues.
    Server = m.google.com
     
     
  • Daniel, why is this a "severe bug in Windows Phone" if the issue is caused by "Google's ever-chaning IMAP APIs"?  (Which is of course all speculation.)
     
    Your headline might have read: Some Windows Phone Users Experiencing Problems Syncing Gmail Accounts and it would have been informative as well as factually accurate.  What you wrote instead just looks like click bait. 
     
    EDIT:  FAIL--This was not intended to be a reply to @andrelamont's post... sorry.
  • Because presumably this is not happening on other platforms, not even WIndows Phone 7....ergo it's a WP8-issue.
  • I am using a 920 with a google apps account synec via activesync/exchange and do not have this problem.
  • I haven't had an issue at all and I have to Gmail accounts on here
  • Who cares...google sucks.  Don't use it.
  • +1
  • +1
    Especially Chrome. If I get one more call where they can't do something because they are using Chrome I'm going to scream. Only have a gmail account because a Job I applied for required it because it needed to link to Google ads.
  • Google mail is still still alive...i don't even use that POS!! JUST don't create an account with google problem solve!! MSFT does a better job handling people,contact,task,birthday, all together..WHY WOULD YOU EVEN THINK OF PUTTING GOOGLE IN WP8,..SMH
  • No issues with google mail on my phone (only mail). 
    Off-Topic: what is the app for that awesome middle weather widget in the YouTube preview? 
  • I haven't noticed any issues on my Lumia 920. I've had Google setup to sync email/contacts/calendar since Friday and not had any problems. If I do experience problems I guess I'll hard reset and go the ActiveSync route but until then I'm not going to mess with it.
  • I haven't experienced this issue.  I've had Gmail set up with both sync as items arrive and every 15 minutes since I got the phone on Friday.  Using email, contacts & calendar.
  • No probs at all on my Windows Phone device tho... Only affects WP8?
  • WP7 I have :)
  • Why does WP8 set up Gmail as IMAP anyway? WP7 used EAS for Gmail by default. Seems like a regression.
  • I have zero issues with Gmail.  My issues were with Comcast the first time I setup and synced my 920.  I put it in airplane mode to break the sync and set sync to manual in settings.  My 900 was still live on wireless so I don't know if there was any sync conflict there.  I also set that to manual sync in the event that was an issue.  Regardless, I changed my sync settings back to normal on the 920(every 15 for me) and haven't had any syncing issues since.   
  • I don't have any issues with my Gmail using a L920. I set up first using the Email Only and then sync'd my contacts and it told me I had to redo my settings. So I went back into the account manager and it lets me now set push to "arrive as it comes". I didn't have that option prior.
  • That's it! I'll be migrating! F**kers...
  • Thats it. Im terminating my Google-a-cunt.
  • I've used exchange for a long time too, it's the method I recommend for everyone!
  • I doubt that this is a bug with WP8 but with how gmail uses imap.  I can confirm though if you setup gmail as an exchange account using m.google.com that this doesn't happen.
  • Glad I didn't upgrade yet :P work out the bugs, I'll upgrade in a few months
  • I initially set up my Gmail account to sync email only.  This caused the constant sync for me.  It also duplicated all of my emails!  I then removed the account and set it up again to sync email, contacts, and calendar.  I then unchecked contacts and calendar inside settings and haven't had an issue since. 
  • So far I haven't seen this issue on my 920... hopefully I never do.
  • I haven't had this issue on my 920 yet but I feel its time to bite the bullet and get rid of gmail.  Outlook has such a nice clean interface.  All in good time...
  • I've been using Outlook 2013 (for Windows 8, not WP) for a few weeks and it has absolutely horrible IMAP support for Gmail. I've documented it here and others have verified the same experience:
    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/officeitpro/thread/b7d52f12-ea1c-489c-865d-0fffac470dfa
    Conclusion: If you use Gmail, don't buy Outlook 2013 until MS releases a patch.
  • Are you sure this isn't a bug with the Skype Release Preview?  I know some users are stating that the People Hub crashes when the Skype for Windows Phone 8 is installed.  I personally don't have that issue, and I moved away from Google services years ago (except for Google Reader; haven't been able to find a good alternative yet.)
  • I'm having similar problem (no gmail) and it did start happening after I 'merged' my Skype account with MS account and installed the Skype app.
  • I got the problem by first installing Skype preview on my 920, login with my skype account, then install Skype on my Surface (store version), merge with my MS account. I fixed it by uninstalling skype on my 920, switch to airplane mode, remove my gmail account, airplane mode off, install skype, login using my MS account, add gmail again.
    Go figure.
  • Try NewsBlur, I ditched google reader for it. No mobile app yet, though.
  • I had this issue yesterday (mail and messaging crashing constantly) on my Lumia 920 I had for three days.  Factory reset, and set it back up (with gmail along with hotmail and exchange) and it has not recurred.  I am synching mail only so not sure about the IMAP vs. POP direction, but will obviously keep an eye on it.
  • I don't know if this is the case with my htc 8x but today it continues syncing my Microsoft account - yes Microsoft - the battery is terrible from day one anyway, even when someone in the contacts call me doesn't show the name,it's shown as an unsaved number. If i go to recent calls after that it does show the name.  :-(
  • I had this problem today too!  I do not have gmail... just hotmail.... and was getting the MS account syncing constantly... incoming calls didnt show who it was from... just the phone number.  Email and people hub and texts kept crashing back to the home screen.
    I called Nokia Lumia support and in the end they told me to hard reset it.... and so far so good.
    I wonder if it is linked to skype? I am sure it was ok before I installed that app...
    Also my battery isnt great either.
  • On my HD7, I would use m.google.com/sync and follow the directions there. Try that
  • Nokia 920.  Gmail with contacts and all.  No constant syncyng.  No issues.  USA, ATT
  • Could this be why battery life is so low on some phones? Because it keeps constantly syncing with Gmail? I've got 1 Gmail account syncing my contacts and email, fully charged 8 hours ago and just checked the battery life. It says I have approximately 1 hour remaining. Wifi, Bluetooth, location services are all turned off, and I disabled most apps from running in the background.
  • 8X, UK, Mail contacts and calendar, no problem. Though I didn't think it would set it up default using IMAP. Who the hell made that decision? I am slowly seeing a lot of things I'm not liking about WP8. Edit: Don't get me wrong I'm sure most of it will be ironed out .... just have to have patience. Lovely phone though.
  • It looks like this issue is being caused by Skype. Email is working fine after uninstalling Skype.
  • Thanks so much !! Yes it is skype issue everyone . Remove the skype and you are good.
  • I have Skype installed and there are no problems anyway.
  • You are  my hero. I uninstalled Skype and everything started working again. Reinstalled Skype and still functional. Thanks man!!!!
  • From the winsource article: "The problem started with the People Hub. With Facebook and Twitter accounts linked it would not load new updates." 
    This portion I will confirm that I have this issue.  My Facebook account under the people hub doesn't seem to want to update...the last status update is over 1 day old.  But the facebook app by MS is working great.  When someone sends a status update or replies it gives me a toast notification.  So not sure what is up with it.
  • Google, are jerks, ditch Gmail and go Outlook.com
  • Sending it again so people notice this and make use of the information :-) <b>Thanks so much !! Yes it is skype issue everyone . Remove the skype and you are good.</b>  
  • damnit. Every time i start feeling confident in my impending lumia 920 purchase (in about 3 hours),  a new doubt pops up on the internet.
  • Sending it again so people notice this and make use of the information :-) Thanks so much !! Yes it is skype issue everyone . Remove the skype and you are good
  • I dont even have Skype, so I doubt thats the problem
     
  • Also, I find it ironic that Daniel states
    In the meantime, may we suggest that you start considering moving to a more standardized service like Outlook.com?
    Yet, his email contact goes to @gmail.com?  Come'on man!
     
  • I think he means setup outlook to pull your gmail information.
  • It seems to have something to do with Skype indeed. When I installed it, everything works again. But when reinstalling and logging in Skype the issue returns. Sure hope MS fixes this issue.
  • What weather app is that?
  • Not everyone is willing to dump YEARS of GMail just accomadate a phone.  Since other services/phones (iOS) work with Google then it is up to Microsoft to make sure their phones work with Google also (I doubt that Google is going to make much effort to accomadate WP8).  For those of you who say SC*** Google the rest of us just want our phones to work with the services we are currently using - Google Maps, Google Voice, Google Chat, GMail, Google Search.  If this doesn't happen then there is a whole bunch of people who will scratch WP8 off their list since Android and iOS work fine with all the Google Services.
  • I've actually grown frustrated with gmail's insistence at cross-contaminating my contacts lists between my phone, email, and other sites, and my old hotmail account is spam-ridden and worthless, so I'm kind of welcoming an opportunity to start clean with a new outlook.com address.
  • Uninstalling Skype Did Not fix the issues on my Lumia 920. FYI
  • Guess I picked a good time to switch to Outlook
  • For anyone still using WP7.5, have you experienced this? Im getting this exact issue on my Dell Venue Pro and the only way so far to resolve it is to turn off the phone. Ive had the mailbox app Lock up about 4 times in the past 2 weeks.
  • Gmail... Geez.
  • Microsoft still hasn't fixed the MIME header issue with Gmail that has been around since at least the release of Mango. I don't see them trying to hard to take care of this. 
     
    The MIME problem is really annoying when sending messages to clients.
  • Could it be because I set my email with Google App so I dont get effected? Not app as in the usual Google mobile app.. but this one:
    https://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business/
  • If only Microsoft would let me rename my account from Gmail to Outlook -.-
  • I think we need a new article: "Severe Windows Phone 8 bug rears its head for Skype users". I created a Skype account last night (using my Microsoft account) and installed the Skype app. After that, I noticed some of my contacts couldn't be opened to place a call. I noticed my Microsoft account was constantly syncing my contacts. This morning, I couldn't open any emails; the Mail app just kept crashing. Then my inbox was just blank. I found this article and deleted my Google account. This fixed the blank inbox and I could open emails most of the time, but I couldn't delete emails. I noticed my Microsoft account was still constantly syncing. I found a comment here that suggested Skype was the culprit. It was in fact Skype that was causing this constant syncing. Problem solved, but now I can't use Skype to IM...
  • Should not the article title read "Severe Gmail bug on Windows 8 caused by Google's use of non standard interfaces"?
  • Remember in the 90's when MS where the schmucks? Now Google are the schmucks. I'm sure this wasn't deliberate but I doubt that Google will be sorry.
    I've been using ActiveSync with Gmail with no problems. But after reading this, I think I can safely say that I no longer want to use Google products.
  • The title is totally misleading. This is not a Windows 8 bug but rather a Gmail bug. A more accurate title would be "Severe Gmail bug rears it head for Windows Phone 8 users"
  • I totally agree.  Although the content of the article seems to absolve MS of blame, the title makes it appear to be their fault.  
  • Seems a bit irresponsible to have a "Severe Windows Phone 8 Bug" headline when the article goes on to explain that it's not a Windows bug at all but rather a Google iMap implementation issue and that it impact [some] Apple devices as well as WP devices. I very much appreciate the reporting but the headline is misleading at best.
  • <Quote>
    to Google’s non-standard implementation of IMAP2
    </Quote> Obviously a bug on Google'e end, and not a Windows 8 bug, then!!! d'oh!! At least get your facts straight before writing slanderous headlines.
  • So... how is this a "severe Windows 8 bug" when it's Google doing it...? I agree that one should be able to disassociate the account from Windows (so maybe that's a bug - although a minor one) but by the article's own admission, Apple products have similar problems with Gmail...
  • I had my 820 setup as Exchange
     
    works for about 20 minutes, then is random at best with push email
     
    I returned mine for a full refund.
  • I wonder if the settings on gmail account itself could affect on the phones? Go check the settings under the forward and pop -tab.
    I don't have the Lumia 920 yet to test those settings out, but on my Lumia 800 g-mails are working well (IMAP in use).
  • The articles title is very misleading. It should read "Severe GOOGLE bug rears its head for GMail users on Windows Phone 8" or "Severe GOOGLE GMail bug rears its head for Windows Phone 8 users."
    Even though the article points out it is most likely due to Google's IMAP implementation, the title implies it is a Microsoft Windows Phone 8 issue.
    I hope a fix comes soon as I am planning on buying a new Nokia Lumia 920 and I have a GMail account, but I use my Windows Live account for syncing contacts and such.
    Thanks for the heads up.
  • I just started having this same issue with my email and I have no Gmail services. I have a hotmail, outlook, twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts linked in the phone. The hotmail and outlook accounts will crash if I try to scroll or delete any emails. They and the twitter and linked in accounts are greyed out in the accounts section saying syncing. Sometimes the accounts section will crash when I try to get into it. I've uninstalled Skype with no success. Just started this morning after having the phone for two weeks. Made no changes to the phone last night which would point to this happening. Any recommendations would be great. Hoping not to have to do a hard reset and start from scratch. Seems like I shouldn't have to do that already (or ever) if MS wants me to take them seriously. So I do not believe this is a google problem at all.
  • Just discovered texting isn't working either. May be going back to iPhone very soon.
  • Check my answere below, it may help you as well (your setup seems to be very similar to mine).
  • I saw the headline and thought that the bug might have been that the gmail man couldn't browser people's emails anymore :)
  • Hi, I have the HTC 8X and with gmail i just chechk the emails only and deffenetly I do not have that crashing problem!!!