Life Hacks: Text Notifications

So many notifications come to us in the form of an audible alert, and this can sometimes be inconvenient. Who likes having their phone go off in church? The problem is that sound propagates regardless of the intended target. Touch, on the other hand, is an inherently personal sensation. Setting your phone to vibrate lets you know you're being alerted, without notifying everyone else in the room as well.

Unless you read Braille, touch has far less bandwidth than sound. However, you can pack a small amount of information into a vibration, like who's calling or texting you. There's a sweet feature on iPhones that lets you set custom vibration patterns for your contacts. Here's how to set it up:

Go to your "Contacts" app. I've got a version of my personal contact card that I AirDrop to people when they want my contact information. I'll use that to demonstrate.

My contact card

Hit Edit in the top right corner, then scroll down until you see Text Tone. Click on that.

The contact edit screen

You'll see a bunch of options where you can set a custom ringtone for that person. You can also set a custom vibration pattern. Right now, mine is set to "Default". Go ahead an click on that.

Vibration edit screen

There are a bunch of standard patterns you can choose from. You can also create some custom ones! I have a lot of custom vibrations:

My custom vibrations

Down at the very bottom of the list is an option to create a new one. Tapping on that will give you a screen like this:

Screenshot of new vibration editor

This is what setting a new vibration pattern looks like:

Creating a new vibration in progress


I encode the initials of my most frequent contacts in Morse Code. It lets me know who's texting me without having to take my phone out of my pocket. It helps me know if I should answer immediately, or if the conversation can wait for a minute or two. It took me a week or two to be able to distinguish between the texts, but now I can recognize who is texting or calling me immediately!

Does anyone know if Android supports the same? Let me know, and I'll post about that here.

Note to people from Facebook: I won't know if you tell me via one of the contact methods I talked about here.