Know Who is Calling Even if iPhone is Silent with Custom Vibration Alerts

Feb 15, 2013 - Leave a Comment

Custom vibration alerts for iPhone contacts

Have you ever wished there was a way to know who was sending you a text or giving you a phone call when your iPhone is on silent mode, resting in your pocket or purse? You hear the buzz, but by default you’ll have no way to differentiate that from anyone else.

It turns out there is a way to determine who is calling while the iPhone is on silent, and that’s achieved by creating and setting custom vibration alerts for contacts in a similar way as you can set different ringtones or text tones for contacts.

How to Set a Custom Vibration Alert for Individual Contacts on iPhone

Here is how you can set a custom vibration alert for contacts on iPhone:

  • Open Contacts or the Phone app, and select a contact you wish to create a custom vibration alert for
  • Tap “Edit” then locate the same section where you select unique ringtones and text tones, but tap “Vibration” instead
  • Scroll through and choose a pre-selected vibrating sequence and choose one

Once a vibration is selected, you’ll ‘feel’ a preview of it and it’ll be set as the default.

If you wish, go back and set another custom vibration for both the ringtone and text tone.

It can be helpful to choose custom vibrations that feel similar, maybe one longer than the other, for the same contact. You can also create a custom unique vibration alert for a contact which we’ll discuss next.

How to Create Unique Vibration Alerts for Contacts on iPhone

Another option is to create completely unique vibrations, this makes the vibration alert completely unique to a contact and you can create your own vibration patterns this way for a contact. Here’s how it works:

  • Back at the Contacts > Edit > Vibration screen, go to the very bottom under “Custom” and choose “Create New Vibration”
  • Tap “Record” then tap on the screen in a pattern, each tap corresponds to a brief vibration, tapping and holding causes a longer vibration
  • Tap “Stop” then “Play” to see how it feels
  • When satisfied, choose “Save” and name the custom vibration

Creating your own vibrations is kind of fun, the screen turns into an interactive vibrating pool of sorts complete with ripples, demonstrating how long each vibration lasts.

Just as before, saving and setting a custom vibration will be automatically set as the new default for that contact.

Repeat the process for other contacts, setting unique vibrations for each user. Technically you can create a new vibration alert for every individual in a contacts list, but it’s really best used in moderation for a few important people or numbers that you want to have a unique alert for. Think of it as something similar to the VIP Mail alert tone trick, except for it’s completely tactile and it lets you know who is contacting you by feel alone.

We’ve covered similar tips with the vibration engine before in order to have completely silent texting and also as part of a way to ignore certain callers by combining a silent ringer with no vibration at all.

Does this work on older iPhones too?

Yes! If you’re using a much older iOS version the process is the same but the appearance of the iPhone may look a bit different.

For posterity, here are some older screenshots of the process to create custom vibrating ringtones on iPhones:

Setting a unique vibration for a Contact:
Set a unique vibration for a user

The custom vibrations list on iPhone:
Custom vibrations list on iPhone

Creating a custom vibration:

Create a new custom vibration alert

Saving the custom vibration:

Create and save a custom vibration alert for contacts

Do you use custom vibrations on iPhone to let you know who is calling by feel, touch, and vibration only? Let us know in the comments!


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

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