Why Ringtones are Over

Who's Calling?

I am someone who hates the phone. Yes, I work in technology, and YES I carry the phone with me EVERYWHERE, but that does not mean I enjoy being accessible to fix people’s computers while I’m sitting on a streetcar, or discussing familial matters while I am in line at the deli.

A natural extension of this is that while I do have 10 or 12 custom ringtones on my phone (mostly television theme songs,) I rarely have the ringer turned on. To me, just having the phone on vibrate is plenty.

This is an emerging behaviour. It’s becoming more rare to actually hear a ringtone in public, and when you do, it falls in to 2 camps: older people (nokia default ringtone, anyone?) or youths who are getting the most out of their 2 dollar investment.

What’s more is that ringtones do nothing to address accessibility. Many people with hearing difficulties still use mobile phones, and might not be able to differentiate the sound of their phone easily in a crowd.

Buried in the iOS5 updates is a neat little solution: custom vibration tones

Using a very clever interface (you tap the screen to the beat you would like to create), you can create custom ringtones which you can then apply to various alerts. This allows to to know without EVERYONE knowing that one of your friends liked your status on Facebook, or that your mom just texted you to remind you to pick up the pie before you head over there. 

I have a custom vibration tone set up, and it has changed my life (not just because the dog recognises the theme to Portlandia!)  I can turn all of my notifications to vibrate, or silence, so I am only triaging truly important things in my day (work e-mails, and the old family question.) The vibration does not set off that Pavlovian response that a constantl ringing, beeping, and whizzing mobile phone makes.

I would encourage you to give it a try. You could have the same productivity boost, and then no one has to know your shame that you like Flo Rida or Maroon 5.

Instructions for implementing this yourself can be found here.

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