Social networking and IM

It's easy to keep up with your social networks on your Android device. Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all have official apps to download free from the Android Market, each with a range of notification options. Third-party Twitter apps such as Twidroid, Swift and Seesmic offer alternative approaches. There's also support for all the major instant messaging (IM) platforms. Google Talk is preloaded on most devices, while apps such as Meebo, free from the Market, let you use this and other IM programs simultaneously, including AIM, Facebook Chat, ICQ, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo.

You can have individual settings for each Gmail account: just repeat these steps from any account's inbox and the changes will apply only to that address.

Any message you'd see in Gmail will now appear in Android too. Your sent, deleted, and even spam messages are also synced by default. Press the Menu key and select the View labels option in Gmail to access all of your different mail folders.

THE COMBINED INBOX

Besides Gmail, Android provides a general email app that can connect to multiple POP, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange accounts. Open the email app (found in the app launcher) and follow the prompts to add any email account you wish.

You have the option of configuring multiple accounts within a single combined inbox. While inside the app, tap the Menu key and select Accounts. This lists all the email accounts you've configured. Tap on any account to open it individually, or on Combined Inbox to view messages from all accounts together. You can always add more accounts from this screen, too: tap the Menu key again to find the Add account option.

The email app, unlike Gmail, doesn't support 'push' (except for Hotmail), so messages won't show up instantaneously; instead, the app checks for new mail once every few minutes. You can define how frequently it checks each account in the Account settings menu (press the Menu key while viewing an account).

SYNCING OUTLOOK

Unless you're using an Exchange server, syncing Android with Outlook can be tricky. Google's full Outlook sync utility is available only to paid Google Apps users.

If you're not using Google Apps, try GOGO Contact Sync. This free open-source utility syncs your Outlook contacts with your Gmail contacts. As long as you use the Gmail account you set as your phone's default, contacts will automatically sync from Gmail to your phone. Or try HTC Sync, which we use overleaf.

Install Google's free Calendar Sync utility to sync your Outlook calendar to Gmail, thence to your Android device.

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