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Pondering "Sent from my iPhone"

Published on Tue, 12 August 2008

The first email I sent from my iPhone was:

Hello from my new 16Gb white iPhone. I was 5th in line. :-)

Unbeknownst to me at that time, my phone had helpfully attached the default signature of, “Sent from my iPhone”, at the end of the email. Later that day, in a reply to what may have been my third ever email from the phone a friend said:

> Sent from my iPhone

thats going to get annoying soon.. heheh :-P

Not one to wish to annoy people and seeing where he was coming from I removed the signature.

A couple of weeks later as I was typing out a reply to a different friend on my trip to work on the tram, the desire for the signature returned. The reason being including the signature tells the recipient that the message came from a small handheld device, whilst I was on the go. This may help explain why the reply is terse and why there may be typos or particularly in the iPhone’s case, whole word substitutions. The phone is generally pretty good at auto-correction but if you’re typing away furiously its easy for mistakes to go unnoticed. So, with a genuine desire to have a signature that wasn’t about big-noting the fact I owned an iPhone, I explained the situation to my friends and asked what exactly was it that they disliked about it and how could it be made better and/or less intrusive.

I got several well reasoned responses. The first suggested replying on the go wasn’t really necessary, as most things can wait. So instead of pushing out a quick, terse response, take the time to write a proper reply and proof read for mistakes. Or just wait until you’ve got access to a desktop computer.

Whilst a valid comment, the emails I am replying to are personal and I’m generally using my commute to work to read and reply to them to avoid using work time for personal email. Without doing so the reply would have to wait until my lunch break or until I get home.

The next reply was from a fellow iPhone user that had also received comments about the signature, but agreed with me that it helped explain the style of the response. He noted that he had removed it though.

The final reply echoed the first in suggesting that if its worth sending its worth doing properly and then followed with what I was expecting all along, I’ll quote that part in full:

To answer you question “why do you hate the sig”, i think its mainly because of the blatant “zomg look at me i have an iPhone!!”.. There are many better options if you MUST have a sig just to say sorry to your reader.. eg Please excuse the brevity and/or any misspellings. The fact that it is the default, so it comes from everyone and is just such a blatant advertiser just gives me the shits to be totally honest :-)

I totally get where Hayden is coming from here. The default signature is quite blatant and in your face.

Thinking it over I came up with the following solutions:

  1. Have a signature like Hayden suggested that is device non-specific. E.g. “Sent from my phone”
  2. Set my name in the account settings to “Wesley Moore (Mobile)” or something along those lines.

I went with the latter as its more subtle but still conveys what I wanted. The result looks like the following (in Gmail).

The first response after making that change was:

BRILLIANT!

love your work :-)

So there you have it, a simple change that might make some of your email recipients cringe a little less.

Update: I’ve since replaced the “Mobile” text with a unicode phone character: ✆. So email from my iPhone appear sent from, “Wesley Moore ✆”. The only drawback to this is that the character doesn’t seem to display in Windows XP, but I decided I didn’t care enough about Windows XP for that to be a problem.

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