Typing lag with G-Mail

Discussion in 'Acer Iconia Tab A500 Forum' started by gerryex, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. gerryex

    gerryex Member

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    Hi ALL,

    As I indicated in another thread I brought my A500 with me to France and it worked very well. The only problem I had was a typing lag in G-Mail. As I would start a new message the typing would go very smoothly and there was no lag at all. But as the message got longer the lag would also get longer. Now the messages were really not all that long but as soon as I would have to start scrolling vertically to see the text (with the keyboard hiding about a third of the bottom of the screen) the lag would get very noticable. Some times it was so bad that I would type a few letters and nothing would show on the screen for maybe a second or two and then they would all show up. Most of the time the lag didn't bunch up like that but still there was a very noticable lag which many times caused spelling errors.

    The keyboard is the standard app and the A500 is a stock unit updated to ICS. G-Mail was the only app I did a lot of typing into so I don't know if the lag was from G-Mail or the keyboard app itself. When I took the A500 with me to France last year I remember the same thing but I do think it was worse this year.

    Has anyone noticed this and is there anything that can be done to either eliminate it or at least minimize it.

    Thanks,
    Gerry
     
  2. Mrhelper

    Mrhelper Senior Member

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    I suspect that I have seen the same issue you describe. It appears to be a limitation of the gmail app that you cannot do much about, short of using a different email app (if that would even work better). I see the slow down become more pronounced when the message becomes larger than a few hundred words or so, and it becomes very extreme when the message size grows very large. You can see a similar effect in many text editors and word processors, even in Windows. It can be more pronounced in editors that support formatting of individual characters, and/or support other word level features like spell checking. It can be terrible with very large files, such as programmatically generated log files. I found that turning off Spelling correction in Settings > Language & input sped things up significantly (but then I could barely understand a what I wrote -- I'm so awkward with this soft keyboard).
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  3. gerryex

    gerryex Member

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    Hi Mrhelper,

    Thanks. I kind of figured it was what you said, but wanted to see if anyone knew anyway to make it work better. I also figured if I turned off the spell check that would speed it up, but with the touch keyboard I make so many typos that the spell check corrects that if it were off it would take me even longer to type what I want.

    Thanks again,
    Gerry
     
  4. Douvie

    Douvie Senior Member

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    Try using a USB keyboard to see if you have the same problem. I have a BT tablet keyboard which works quite well but I have noticed that the WIFI signal becomes unstable when BT is turned on. But overall it works well.
     
  5. gerryex

    gerryex Member

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    Hi Douvie,

    Thanks for the suggestion - I'll give it a try soon. But as I said in that other thread the only time I really use the A500 is on a trip and I bought a tablet to minimize the amount and size of stuff I have to bring to read books and get on the internet. So bringing along an extra keyboard would not be very desirable! Frankly I can live with the typing lag but its just kind of annoying and if there was an easy fix it would have been nice!

    Gerry
     
  6. Douvie

    Douvie Senior Member

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    Hi Gerry,

    I just suggested the option as a "test" but I must say the keyboards come in a variety of sizes and configurations. There are fold up keyboards, roll up keyboards.

    I'm inclined to believe it has something to do with time it takes for the character to appear on the screen. When you type a character it gets sent to Gmail and then it gets sent back to you to appear on your screen - because your tablet is synchronizing with Gmail to update things live.

    If you think the lag on Gmail is bad - try Yahoo (I can type two lines of text before I can see it on screen). It even happens on the PC while on Yahoo.:rolleyes:
     
  7. MsEclectic

    MsEclectic Member

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    I have this problem and it isn't mainly on Gmail. Facebook is a nightmare on my tablet. I can type an entire sentence and frequently have to wait a minute or more for it to appear. The entry window also tends to disappear. If I close the keyboard, it reappears. Big help there, eh? I also have a big problem with placing the cursor, even using a stylus.
    Very frustrating.
     
  8. gerryex

    gerryex Member

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    Hi Douvie,

    Are you saying that each letter is actually sent to Gmail in the cloud before it is shown on the screen. If so than that explains why the lag was more noticable this year than last year. Both trips were to France but to different areas. Last year the Wi Fi's that I tied into were not too bad, and the lag was not too bad. But this year there was only one Wi Fi that I paid for and it was terrible! And it was not for lack of the Wi Fi signal itself as I was very near the antenna. The server it tied into was either overloaded or just not working very well. When ever I turned the A500 on I immediately got a strong Wi Fi signal and then the A500 would say "Obtaining an IP address" and just sit there. The Wi Fi's server had trouble giving out IP addresses. And then even when I finally got an IP address and connected the response was very inconsistant. Some times web pages loaded reasonably and sometimes they took forever to load. And it was definitely the Wi Fi's server as I would be on one page then go to another and then back to the first page and even though it had been displayed just a few seconds ago it would take a long time to display again.

    So this year as I was typing into Gmail at times there would be no noticable lag but at other times the lag would be bad. I guess from what you're saying each character is sent to Gmail so that it can sync things live. So now it make sense!!!

    Thanks!!

    Gerry
     
  9. Mrhelper

    Mrhelper Senior Member

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    That's not how it works. The message text editor object in the Gmail client does not send every single typed character all the way to a Gmail server and then wait for it to be echoed back. Modern email clients only transmit and receive messages using the associated message protocols -- e.g., IMAP, POP, etc. The Android Gmail app uses the IMAP protocol. Even html-based email interfaces don't transmit every character back and forth, but instead use text edit boxes and only transmit and receive blocks of text -- i.e., typically the entire message in one transaction.

    If you wish to test that theory regardless of the protocol issues I've noted, just turn off your wifi and see if your gmail editing speed improves as much as it does when you turn off spell checking. Note also that network connectivity is not required for message composition. The spell checker seems to be the most significant cause of delay while editing. Any relationship with editing performance to wifi you may have observed could have been related to general system resource effects, but there is no direct relationship between gmail message text editing performance and network performance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  10. Douvie

    Douvie Senior Member

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    Well that doesn't explain what happens with typing this message Mrhelper. I've got the spell checker turned off and there are still significant delays. So the problem must have something to do with the network activity.

    With Gmail you have 2 options with the tablet. One option is the app where the delay is insignificant. The other is GMAIL proper where the delays are very significant and the cursor position does not match the actual character position. So I believe on that basis, as well as the fact that the problems are worse with Yahoo (spell checker off), indicates a interactive delay which is a transmission delay. Some of the delays could be the result of the browser. I noticed that Firefox Beta is very much quicker than the stock browser - also that Firefox seems to work on 99% of web sites and the stock browser seems to come up with failed access to web sites. There is significant improvement using Firefox rather than the stock browser..

    I'm running both side by side and seem to have little or no lag while using Firefox. Remember a block of text can be made up of 2 or more characters plus control codes.

    Also consider the buffering that happens with browsers and network activity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  11. Douvie

    Douvie Senior Member

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    Usually with text entry you have the option using the a/A button in the top left hand side of box. Placing the cursor is easy. Hold your finger on the touch screen where you are entering text and a blue square arrow marker will appear. Slide your finger until the marker appears in the right place.

    This should be the same on Facebook - I don't do Facebook.

    Another option is a mouse.
     
  12. Douvie

    Douvie Senior Member

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    Gerry,

    I did exaggerate a little but it is the syncing with Gmail - because that is what your tablet does - that can cause the problem. If I go to a MACDONALDS and use their WIFI (11Mbs or less depending on the time of day) the lag time is real bad. So it does have something to do with the network activity/busyness and I defy anyone to explain this away. Why is it worse when I use a MacDonald's WIFI than when I use my own? This is not specifically a tablet issue.

    And yet when I use my HTC EVO 3D and tap an email using Gmail I have no indication of lag. The reason is quite simple - the phone is always connected to a carrier, data or calls, and there is instantaneous data tx and rx happening all the time. Whether you use the phone or when it sits in your pocket.

    Going back to the Gmail client, it is always polling (I believe that is the term - I get them confused. I have studied and worked in communications) the server and if it can't reach the server the message and other services will fail. The message will not send to the server even though connection has been restored - this happens with MS OUTLOOK as well when it loses connection with the exchange server. Happens a lot to me because I'm on the road in my job. Yeah I know exchange uses mainly POP and SMTP. However with the new exchange cloud server I believe they use IMAP.
     
  13. gerryex

    gerryex Member

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    Hi Douvie,

    Well, whether Gmail sends every single character to the cloud (which I thought would be a dumb design) or is just doing some kind of polling that affects the app's response the typing lag was definitely worse this year with the poorer performing Wi Fi than it was last year. So I agee, which my empirical data supports, that Gmail's typing lag somehow depends on the performance of the Wi Fi network its connected to.

    Thanks,
    Gerry
     
  14. Mrhelper

    Mrhelper Senior Member

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    These are all interesting and even colorful theories. I personally find the creative theories I've read here more entertaining than the following boring facts. Someone has to be boring though, and it may as well be me.

    The fact remains that when you edit text in the Gmail compose text window, not a single byte of that text is exchanged with any external system. Nothing goes to or from the network until you press the send button. That's simply how the email protocols work.

    As I noted above, this is very easy to test. You can simply turn off the wifi while editing a note with a couple thousand words, and the lag will continue... as long as you have the spell checker enabled. Having wifi on or off makes absolutely no difference. Turning wifi back on and then turning spell check off will allow the editor to fly. It will not lag while typing and will scroll a few thousand words of text up and down as quickly as you can swipe it. Again, the most prominent cause of lag in the Gmail app compose window is apparently caused by the spell checker, and it remains severe whether or not the network connection is up, fast, or otherwise.

    If you don't trust that the app conforms to the protocols, then run your network connection through a packet sniffer while editing your email message, and you will see that it does indeed work properly. I did so because I was concerned that maybe the Android spell checker was causing higher delay by doing some remote lookups... it wasn't doing any... not even a byte.

    Now if you try this same test with HTML versions of email clients, you may see the occasional save of the full message to the server. This type of save is also done in the very BBS software you are currently using on this site. Your edits are still not sent a keystroke at a time, but the whole message that you have typed so far is periodically saved to the site. That save makes the text available for you to restore after any one of these Android browsers crashes, as some are so prone to do.

    That type of save is not done with the Gmail app though, and messages are only exchanged when you either press send, when the client requests new messages from the server (the scheduled sync), when you move messages between folders or when you otherwise manage folders. You can watch the IMAP message exchanges via packet sniffer to see this activity. Most of the time you edit though, you will see no related messages being exchanged between the tablet and the network. I had my various weather widgets disabled so I saw no network activity at all for most of a very large edit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  15. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It could be possible that there is a syncing issue with the Gmail app (or another app running in the background) though that is using the wifi. In that case the tablet could be struggling to send and receive email (or data) which is eating system resources that could otherwise be used for the typing of the draft that is being worked on (or more accurately to run the spell checker for that draft email). This could give the appearance that wifi has something to do with the email being drafted when really it is a system issue caused by an app that has issues with wifi or the tablet struggling with the wifi itself (connecting and disconnecting).

    So while the problem may not be directly tied to the Gmail app sending and receiving from the text box, this resource intensive task (due apparently to the spell checker) highlights another issue the tablet is coincidentally having.
     
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