iOS 6’s Swoosh Sound Sending Email Signifies: Nothing

| Analysis

Based on evidence accumulated so far, it appears that the swoosh sound heard in iOS 6 when sending an email doesn’t really confirm that the message has been sent. Only that you pressed the Send button. This appears to be a change from previous iOS versions.

I spend a fair amount of time emailing product photos from my iPhone to my iMac where I prepare them for publication. In times previous to iOS 6, a collection of photos could seem to take a long time from the press of the Send button until I heard the swoosh sound. I attributed that to the transmission of the image data.

Recently, two different events in iOS 6 have led me to believe that the now much shortened time from tapping the Send button and the swoosh sound is not a technical improvement, but rather a User Experience (UX) concession by Apple. That is, it’s no longer a technical indication that the message has been sent. Rather, it appears to be a quick audio confirmation solely for the sake of effect. Here’s the evidence so far.

Case I

A TMO reader told me a story recently, right after he’d upgraded to iOS 6, about a lost email. He was on the road, and his wife was driving. He got an email on his iPhone and he wanted to forward it to his home account as a personal reminder. So he forwarded the email and heard the swoosh sound.

Right after that, he tried to access Twitter but could not. He realized that we was out of cell tower range and had no signal. He wondered if his email had been sent. It wasn’t in the Draft folder, it wasn’t in the Sent folder, and when he got home, he determined that it never got sent. The swoosh sound appears to not have been any kind of real confirmation that the message was accepted by the SMTP server. The email went into oblivion.

Case II

Last weekend, my iPhone 5 was replaced under warranty for a defective 3.5 mm audio port. Even though I restored it completely from an iTunes backup, in line with Apple’s admirable security measures, I had to go about re-entering all my passwords when prompted. One that didn’t prompt me, however, was the email account outgoing SMTP password.

A few days later, I needed to email some product photos for a review I was doing, and, of course, I heard the swoosh sound right after I tapped the Send button. All along, I had been thinking that Apple engineers had cleverly optimized the outgoing mail process for several megabytes of images.

The emails never arrived on my iMac.

It was after some investigation that I discovered the missing password. In this case however, after I entered the password, the emails were transmitted. Again, the swoosh sound appears to be not a confirmation that the message was sent.

Analyzing the Evidence

The two different events described above strongly suggest that in iOS 6, the swoosh sound is no longer a confirmation that the message has been properly sent via the SMTP server. Rather, the sound appears right after the Send button is tapped merely as an audio indication of nothing more than a registration that the Send button was tapped. That’s a reasonable conclusion based on two separate incidents that are a different but validate the same phenomena.

However, it’s still possible that this is an incomplete description of a complex process. I’m open to additional evidence and analysis.

Conclusion

If this is an accurate assessment of how the software is working, then it is troubling. It’s one thing to treat email in a traditional sense, waiting patiently for confirmation, even if it takes a little longer in a mobile environment. It’s quite another to shortcut previous methodologies in order to make it appear to the customer that the process has been improved when, technically, it's worse.

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Email image via Shutterstock

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Comments

geoduck

Yes very troubling. Little things like this are put into a UI for a reason. To pull them out is one thing, it’s not good but it happens. To ape the old function is deceptive. Suppose the gear down light came on in your airplane when you moved the switch but had no connection to the actual state of the gear. Imagine if the ‘Hot” warning light on your glass top stove went out when you turned the burner off without regard to if the surface was hot or not. This is a stupid stupid change. I can however, confirm what you’ve seen. I hadn’t put it together but I’ve sent messages, gotten the swoosh but they never showed up. This is something new in iOS 6.

  It wasn’t in the Draft folder, it wasn’t in the Sent folder, and when he got home, he determined that it never got sent. The swoosh sound appears to not have been any kind of real confirmation that the message was accepted by the SMTP server. The email went into oblivion.

Even worse. OK if you can’t send the message park it until you can’ To just have it go into the bit bucket is inexcusable. Even PopMail 20 years ago knew how to take care of this.

ibuck

I agree with geoduck: this is inexcusable. Apple needs to change this back pronto.

I wonder if it was stuff like this that prompted Scott Forstall’s tirades?

Aftermac

Not good at all… I’ve only had my iPhone 5 for a week and hadn’t noticed this yet…

What I have noticed is another problem with mail: Push will occasionally stop working. I have noticed a number of times that I would get a new email as soon as I quit the mail program. After this happened a couple times I got suspicious. When I checked the timestamp on the emails I received they were from several hours earlier.

Lawrence

You have no conclusive evidence, just a theory. The posts responding to this theory are knee-jerk reactions to an unproven theory, damning Apple for something that may not be true. This is why Apple users have such bad reputations for being whining crybabies

geoduck

This is why Apple users have such bad reputations for being whining crybabies

We complain and we’re crybabies. We don’t and we’re fanboys.
Guess we can’t win.
But more to the point, you are correct it is a theory. It is a theory based on fairly rigorous observation and one that has been corroborated by independent reports. If the theory, that Apple deliberately modified the feature, is not correct it does not negate the observations. There would still then be a bug that causes the issue. Either way it is a behavior that needs to be addressed.

lithoman

This error existed under IOS 5. If I do a restore now I sync my email accounts via iTunes so all the accounts have their correct passwords. If the account setting are correct and an email is not sent right away you will get a notification in when it is sent successfully.

furbies

I agree with geoduck: this is inexcusable. Apple needs to change this back pronto.

+1

 

Frosty

That is the very reason I’m still using Snow Leopard, and have no desire to upgrade.  Apple often makes changes for the sake of changes and not because they make things any better, but quite often they make things worse.  Therefore, I’ve gotten off that boat.  I’m perfectly happy with using Snow Leopard…

doug

So this would be disturbing.  But, I just did the following experiment:
1.  Turned on Airplane Mode.
2.  Composed an email to myself and hit send.
Result:  Mail did not “send” it and instead told me, one unsent email, at the bottom of the Mail screen.
3.  Turn off Airplane Mode.
4.  Open Mail.  There is the email that I sent. 

Seems inconsistent with your results.  I am using 6.01.

Not sure if it matters but I have no sound enabled for Mail.  I don’t get a swoosh sound ever for sent mail.

jason

Interesting… I’m running iOS 6.0.1 on my iPad and emailed myself 3 photos from the Photos app using Wi-Fi earlier today.  I got the swoosh but none of them have arrived on my Mac.

jason.j

I did some further investigating on this issue and found 21 unsent emails in my outbox.  I got the new iPad and hadn’t used mail but had sync’d accounts.  I tried to send something and got an error message saying the name or password was incorrect so I re-entered my password but got the same error message.  I deleted the account and re-entered the info and now all is working fine, I can send email and photos.

Yuli

Doug, are you serious? The entire article is about how the swoosh sound is/was a confirmation for mail being sent. You’re little experiment with the sound off is completely irrelevant and embarrassing.

doug

Case 1 in the article:  ” The email went into oblivion.” 
Geoduck comment:  “Even worse. OK if you can’t send the message park it until you can’ To just have it go into the bit bucket is inexcusable. Even PopMail 20 years ago knew how to take care of this.”

This is the data point to which I was responding with my earlier post, obviously.  If true, it would be at least as problematic as the swoosh part of it.

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