How to create custom iPhone vibration patterns

Apple debuted customizable iPhone vibration patterns with iOS 5. It lets you create your own vibration pattern and assign it to a contact or alert. It’s easy to do and more useful than you might think.

For example, assign your custom pattern to important contacts, so you know if you should bother to look at your phone during a meeting or other important activity. Or, get really creative and use a little morse code to spell out your wife’s name, for example, or “GOD NO” if it’s your in-laws. I like to use a brief vibration followed by a long pause, giving me time to get to my phone. Custom vibrations let me create that exact pattern. Here’s how to create a custom iPhone vibration pattern and assign it to a contact.

Create a Custom Vibration Pattern

  1. Tap the Settings app, then tap Sounds.
  2. Tap Ringtones, then Vibration.
  3. A list of standard and custom vibrations appears. Scroll down to Create New Vibration and tap it.
  4. The New Vibration window appears. See below.

Now it’s time to recored a new pattern. Simply touch the screen to begin. The progress bar moves from left to right. Each touch of the screen registers as a dark spot in the progress bar (see above). These represent vibrations. Areas with out a dark mark represent pauses in vibration. When you’re through, tap Stop (you may stop before the progress bar reaches the end for a short pattern).

You can test your pattern from the creation screen…sort of. Tap Play to play back your vibration. A ripple effect coincides with each dark mark in the timeline. I say “sort of” because the phone doesn’t actually vibrate during this playback. [1. David Boroditsky notes that his phone does vibrate during this playback.]

If you’re satisfied, tap Save, name your creation and you’re all set.

Assign to a Contact

Let’s put that new vibration to use. Here’s how to assign it to a contact:

  1. Launch the Phone app, tap a contact and then tap Edit.
  2. Tap Vibration. The Vibration selection window appears.
  3. Custom vibrations are listed above the defaults. Tap the one you like and then hit Done.

Thanks it! Assigning a vibration to an alert is just as easy. Here’s how:

Assign to an Alert

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General, then Sounds.
  3. Tap the alert you’d like to customize, like Ringtone, Text Tone or New Voicemail.
  4. Tap Vibration at the top of the screen.
  5. Tap your custom pattern from the list.

That’s it. A simple change that offers considerable convenience. Just for good measure, here’s a Morse Code chart. Have at it.