Ask Paul: Windows Phones and Google?

Posted on January 5, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Windows Phones with 0 Comments

Ask Paul: Windows Phones and Google?

With Windows 10 Mobile now shipping, it’s time we revisit a long-standing issue with Windows phones: Is it possible to access Google services from Microsoft’s mobile platform?

Nike F. asks:

I would really love to get the Lumia 950 XL, but my company uses Google Apps for Work and so Gmail and Google Drive/Docs, and so on. I was wondering whether I can sensibly use the 950 XL with my work stuff? I see that the Outlook mail client for Android and iOS has access to Google Drive, so I was hoping the same is true for Windows Phone 10.

Answer:

The short answer is that you should have no issues accessing your Gmail/Google Calendar-based email, contacts, and calendar events from a Lumia 950 XL or any other Windows 10 Mobile handset. But you will not be able to access Drive, Docs, or other Google services, at least not seamlessly.

Microsoft has supported Google accounts in Windows Phone OS for years, and you can see how that works in Windows Phone Tip: Use Your Gmail Account.

But Windows 10 Mobile works like Windows 10 because, well, it isWindows 10. So you no longer add your Google account in Settings, as with Windows Phone OS. Instead you add your Google account from the new Outlook Mail or Outlook Calendar app, as described inWindows 10 Tip: Use Your Google Account with Mail, Calendar and People. That article was written for Windows 10 for PCs, but it’s the same in Windows 10 Mobile.

For the record, I do this with thurrott.com, which is a Google Apps for Work account for the same reason as you: My work uses it. Email, calendar and contacts access works pretty well.

For other Google services, you’re out of luck. If you try to use the mobile web experiences in Microsoft Edge, you’ll discover that it detects the system as Android and prompts you to download the relevant Android mobile app. Or you could scout around for third-party alternatives as some enterprising developers have tried to bring Google services to Windows phones. I’ve not experimented with many of these, sorry, but my experiences haven’t been hugely positive when I have.

With regards to Outlook on Android/iOS supporting Google Drive (and other third party cloud storage services), that functionality is not available in Windows 10 Mobile. The reason is that Outlook for Android/iOS was made by a different company, originally, that Microsoft later purchased. So that app is different on Android/iOS.

I wish I had better news. But the sad truth is that accessing Google services on Windows 10 Mobile is very limited.

 

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