Custom vibrations in Settings (left) and the new interface to customize vibration patterns (right)

iOS 5 comes with a bunch of accessibility improvements, like the AssistiveTouch feature that lets you use your device with adaptive accessories and even create your own gestures. Another easily overlooked addition: Custom vibrations, on a per-contact basis, as pointed out by MacRumors. This is kinda cool, not just for the hearing impaired but for the rest of us as well. Example: If you’re in a meeting and your device is in silent mode, you can tell when your wife is calling based on a vibration pattern – how cool is that?

But why stop there? Combine custom vibrations with LED flash on incoming calls, ringtones, the iTunes Tone Store where you can buy custom alert sounds and deep Twitter integration which automatically adds Twitter user names and photos to your contact cards and suddenly iOS 5 looks pretty strong in the customization department. Here’s a quick guide to customizing vibrations for your contacts…


First you need to enable custom vibrations by checking the Custom Vibrations button in the General > Accessibility > Custom Vibrations section of the Settings app. From there, you can assign unique vibration patterns to people in Contacts, similar to ringtones. Just pick a contact in the Contacts app, hit the Edit button and tap Vibration right below the Ringtone field. You can pick among five preset vibration patterns (Alert, Heartbeat, Rapid, S.O.S. and Symphony) or create your own using the recording interface.

Simply tap to begin recording a custom vibration pattern. Each tap represents a short vibration. You can tap as many times as you like during  the 30-second window. When you’re satisfied, hit the Save button, name your pattern and assign it to any contact you like. To change the default pattern for everyone, go to the Sounds section of the Settings app and change your preference in the Vibration Patterns section at the bottom.

Assign unique vibration patterns to people in Contacts (left) or change the default pattern for everyone in Sounds settings (right)

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