Pro tip: How to use distinctive vibration alerts to better identify callers

When your phone is on vibrate, it can be very difficult to detect who is calling when your device is in your pocket, but custom vibration alerts can help.

Vibration alerts

Missing an important call while your phone is on vibrate is never a good thing, but what if there was a way to establish identification for callers while still maintaining the silence of a phone in vibration mode? With distinctive vibration alerts, you can do just that. Let's take a look at how to create these custom alerts for your important contacts.

To create a custom vibration alert for one of your contacts, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Phone app, and tap Contacts
  2. Select a contact, and go into the Contact detail view (Figure A)
    Figure A
    Figure A
  3. Tap Edit
  4. Tap either Vibration under Ringtone or Text Tone, depending on the vibration alert you wish to set.
  5. Tap Create New Vibration under the Custom section (Figure B) in the Vibration menu (or you can select any one of the built-in vibration alerts).
    Figure B
    Figure B

The next window that appears is the vibration editor, where you'll be able to create your custom vibration for text messages or phone calls.

To begin creating a new vibration alert, simply tap in the the light gray area that says Tap to create a vibration pattern. Once you tap that area, you'll have a few seconds (counted down with a blue line at the bottom of the screen -- Figure C) to record your custom vibration alert. You can lift and place your finger to create the vibrations. The longer you hold your finger on the screen, the longer the vibration will be.

Once you're finished, you can replay your vibration alert by tapping the Play button or re-record the vibration alert by tapping the Record button.

Figure C

Figure C
Lift and place your finger on the screen in order to create the custom vibration pattern that will be used for the alert.

When you're ready to save the custom vibration alert, tap the Save button in the top right corner of the screen. You'll be prompted to enter a new name for the vibration (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D
Name your vibration alert something that you'll remember.

After returning to the vibration selection screen, you'll be able to select your newly created vibration alert. Note: You'll only need to create a custom alert once in order to share it between being used as a ringtone vibration or as a text tone vibration alert.

Once it's set, the vibration alert pattern will be used whenever you receive a call from that particular contact, allowing you to identify callers without looking at your phone.


As you can see, creating a custom vibration alert couldn't be easier. You can do all sorts of things with these alerts, including setting specific caller groups to have certain vibrations, or having each of your frequent contacts have their own vibration alert. This will help you determine whether not or you should answer the phone or respond to a text without needing to pull your phone out of your bag or pocket.

Do you use custom vibration alerts on your iOS device? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...