Sometime last week I noticed that I hadn’t received some alerts sent by text message to my phone. I figured it was probably a transient problem with the email-to-SMS gateway and didn’t think much more of it. Then on Sunday I added a contact to my address book in Gmail, and it still hadn’t synced to my phone a half-hour later. Again, I figured it was just a hiccup.
Yesterday, some more email-to-SMS texts vanished into the ether. I figured something must be up with the gateway, so I changed the alerts so that they would also send to my Gmail account, figuring that if the text messages failed, I’d still get a notice.
They didn’t show up either.
That’s when I realized that nothing on the phone was actually syncing: Not Gmail, not the contacts, not the calendar…and it just wasn’t receiving text messages at all.
I tried turning sync off and back on, manually syncing, restarting the phone (both a hard reset cycling the power and a soft reset, sort of the Ctrl-Alt-Delete equivalent using the green, red and menu buttons together), even clearing all the local data for Gmail, Gmail storage, and Calendar storage.
Well, none of that worked. It marked all the apps for syncing, but wouldn’t actually start.
So it was time to backtrack: What had I changed recently?
Well, I’d updated several apps. Off the top of my head I could think of Twidroid Pro and the Weather Channel, but I couldn’t remember what else.
I’d also installed a new app, Layar, an augmented reality app which I’d seen in an ad for some other phone last week, but hadn’t actually gotten around to trying out. Adding it triggered a low space warning, but the phone still had 6.8 MB free, which ought to have been plenty.
Curiously enough, the last successful sync was right around the time that I installed Layar. Hmm…
Okay, what the heck. I uninstalled it. Within seconds, the phone bleeped and picked up the test messages I’d sent to Gmail. Within a minute, several text messages arrived, including my test from this morning and two alerts from last night.
Well, that was certainly suspicious.
So I installed it again, and this time actually opened the app to try it out (making it display the location of pizza places as seen from my desk), and sent myself a test message at Gmail. I can’t say I was surprised when the test message showed up on my desktop, but not on my phone, even when I manually refreshed my inbox in Gmail. Within a minute of uninstalling the app again, the message showed up.
So, no Layar for me. I don’t know if it doesn’t work with the G1, with Android 1.6, or with something else I have on the phone…or if it’s not Layar at all, and the phone just needs more space to sync.
The message is clear, though: If your phone stops syncing, or stops receiving text messages, look at what’s changed. There’s a good chance that the problem is related.
Update: It’s been about half an hour, and the voice mail notice just popped up…for a couple of messages I received on Sunday! It looks like the problem was blocking everything that used the standard sync/notify system on the phone. Twidroid was working, so I guess it must use its own system.
Update 2: I’ve confirmed that it’s just the low space, not the particular app, that causes the problem.