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Google to Remove Active Sync, other services

Google will begin to phase out its Sync service for consumers and discontinue several other services in early January.

The shuttering of the services, described as “winter cleaning” by the company, was announced in a post on its official blog.

“Last January, we renewed our resolution to focus on creating beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people’s lives every day. To make the most impact, we need to make some difficult decisions,” the company said.

Google Sync allows access to mail, calendar and contacts via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Google said it will continue to offer the same functionality through the IMAP and CardDAV protocols.

Consumers won’t be able to set up new devices using Sync from Jan. 30, but existing Sync connections will continue to function.

Google’s support for Exchange ActiveSync has always been half-hearted. Even today, three years after its introduction, Google’s official support page says, “Google Sync is still in beta. Read Known Issues with iOS before enabling Google Sync with iOS devices.”

Confusingly, if you set up a Gmail account on an iPhone today, you’re most likely to use the Microsoft Exchange option, even though that server program isn’t involved in any way. Apple took the shortcut of reusing that setup screen rather than duplicating it under the  Google Sync name.

So what does this mean for Google customers?

  • If you are a Gmail user, you can continue to use existing devices set up with Google Sync/Exchange ActiveSync. But as of January 30, 2013, you will no longer be able to set up a new mobile device this way. You will instead have to use a Google app or configure your account to use IMAP and synchronize accounts separately.
  • If you have a free Google Apps account (grandfathered in following last week’s announcement), you will also lose Google Sync support. A Google spokesperson confirmed via e-mail that users of free Google Apps accounts will not be able to set up new Google Sync connections after January 30, 2013.
  • Paying Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government customers can continue to set up new devices with Google Sync after this cutoff date.

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