Saturday, August 30, 2014

Problem Adding Google Account to Android Devices

I was trying to add the required Google Account to an Motorola Android phone and encountered a problem. The error message states,

Can’t establish a reliable data connection to the server.  This could be a temporary problem or your SIM card may not be provisioned  for data services. If it continues, call Customer Care.
Google searches produced numerous hits. I tried a few and they did not work for me.

After a little bit careful investigation, I noticed that the time displayed was far off. Although I checked the "Automatic Update Time" option, the device did not appear to update the time to a correct one. My understanding is that when the time is far off, any security protocol using SSL will not work as it requires the messages are time stamped recently, well, to prevent varous forms of the message replay attacks. Then, I used the following solution and it worked.

  1. Uncheck the "Automatic Update Time" option
  2. Manually set time to a correct one. I  used the clock on my computer as a reference. It does not have to be very precise. But, do note that the time zone on the Android device may not be the one your computer is in. If it is the case, you may use a time reference that is in the same time zone of the Android device (e.g., The Official NIST US Time); or simply set the time zone on the Android device to the time zone of your reference time. 
  3. Now add your Google account. It should work now.

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