It’s hard enough trying to keep up with the Emoji latest English terminology and slang surrounding the use of mobes, the gratingly ugly term preferred in the UK for cellphones (mobe is short for mobile phones), but with Japanese keitai terms (that’s the Japanese slang for cellphone) now appearing in the English language, us old fogeys can sometimes find it difficult to work out what it is all about. This article will try to explain two common and one not-so-common phrases that seem to be making the rounds of the SNS generation.

Literally, this is face letters, but it is also often referred to as Japanese emoticons. These take not just alphabetic characters, but the full gamut of symbol characters, Japanese kanji characters, Greek, Russian, dingbats and anything else you can find to make assorted horizontal faces. The classic cat smiley =^.^= is a simple example, but searching the internet for a term such as “kaomoji dictionary” will reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of kaomoji to represent just about every emotion or situation you could ever think of, and a good number you couldn’t!

I do find it interesting that there are many, many articles out there about how the Western smilies like:-) came about, but very little has been done to reveal the history of the Japanese kaomoji. As far as I can determine, it was a Korean person in Japan in early 1986 who proposed the (^_^) smiley, and a Japanese nuclear scientist who came up with (~_~) at much the same time.


Move a step up the evolutionary ladder and we get to emoji, literally picture letters. These were first popularised on Japanese cellphones, displaying a small icon in place of characters in an email. Now almost every phone supports a full range of over a hundred of these icons, and are an indispensable feature for the vast majority of users in Japan, as even if people don’t write them, the chances are that contacts will be sending emails full of them! They also infect Japanese blogs, and for many people they replace punctuation within their text. Some of the mobile service providers now even animate the glyphs, which brings us round to the final term.


Decomail is actually derived from English, being short for decoration mailDecorated mail would be more grammatically correct, but the official full name is indeed decoration. This should actually be familiar to many readers as it is just a marketing name for HTML-based email on a mobile phone, allowing simple decoration of text through features such as scrolling banners, inserted images, aligned text, and colour selection. One major manifestation of decomail is the use of what is effectively animated emoji, by allowing small animations to be inserted into email, with some phones coming preloaded with animations numbering in the thousands! However, these images are not just limited to small animated emoji (kaoani – animated faces – are one manifestation, and another term to talk about at a later date) but also may be larger and may even be Flash with simple scripting.

As mentioned at the start of this section, decomail is HTML mail, so that means that yes, you can send foreign friends these messages directly from your Japanese cellphone! You can also sometimes receive it, but as the size and other limitations on a cellphone are quite severe, there’s less of a guarantee of it actually working.

So, that I hope gives you a flavour of how Japanese spice up their mobile emails. I’ve no space to mention that Google’s Gmail can display emoji, nor that Apple and Google are trying to standardise emoji in Unicode, nor even 2ch emoticons, but hopefully now you’ll know the definition of kaomoji, emoji and decomail if you hear them in conversation.

Using emoticons on your smartphone can cause severe problems with the voice-to-text functions of the Ford Sync System. This self-help article reveals ways to correct these problems.

Since late 2012 there were numerous problems with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S as well as the Samsung Galaxy, the HTC Evo and other smartphones having connectivity issues with the Ford Sync system. User forums for these smartphones and for the Sync system have been filled with people which connectivity problems that affected the base model, the MyFord and the MyFord Touch Sync systems. The issue was something was seriously affecting the Sync users accessibility of their phone book contacts with Voice commands. If you pushed the “Voice” icon on your steering wheel and said “Phone” and then “Call + (your contact name)” then your Sync system might reply, “Calling Dot on Cell.”

Some of the issues were a result of smartphone users downloading and using any of the Emoji Apps. The word emoji is Japanese for ideograms, you know, those little emoticons such as smiley faces, “frowny” faces, etc.

The new Apple iOS even allows iPhone 5 users to go to their Settings folder, to the General settings, to the Keyboard tab, and then to the next menu to select “Keyboards.” You can then tap “Add New Keyboard” and add an emoji keyboard. However, this is the kiss of death for your Sync system.

The issue is that the cute emoticons seen on your smartphone screen as a smiley face are, in fact, long strings of programming language which cause Sync’s text-to-voice conversion to go haywire. When given a Voice command to call a contact the system will say “Calling Dot on Cell” and then dial the first contact listed in your phone book.

If this has happened, then review EVERY phone contact and remove any emoticon. Also remove any extraneous exclamation points, periods, commas, dashes and so on that you might have in your phone contact list. Be sure to even check the name of your device! Some overzealous users renamed their phones with smiley faces on the device name. Check to see that everything is cleared again. Then go to your Bluetooth settings and remove Sync from your phone.

If you have an iPhone, do a soft reset. This is done by holding your “Home” button, the large button at the lower center of your front screen, while also holding down the Power button at the top edge of the phone on the right side. Hold these buttons down until the Apple icon appears. Then release the buttons. Let the phone go idle for a few minutes. You can further push the power button, then slide the on-screen button to power down the phone. Leave the phone off for a few minutes. Then push the power button and let the phone power back up.

Then go to your vehicle. Go to your phone settings and delete your phone from the list of Bluetooth devices. Then turn your vehicle off. Open the hood and find the car battery. Loosen and remove the black (negative) battery cable) for about five minutes. Then replace the cable and tighten the clamp. Close the hood and restart the vehicle. Let a few minutes pass before resetting the radio from AM and resetting the clock. Then go to your phone settings and pair your phone back. See this video for instructions on pairing a phone.

Yes, this is a lot to do. This is why you need to really clean Emoji Apps and emoji keyboards from your phone files. Emoticons are cute but they defeat the whole purpose of having a Bluetooth-enabled hands-free communications system. Maybe it’s time to say bye, bye to smiley faces! So sorry!