Apple implemented many new features into iOS 5; many are behind the UI (User Interface), but many are left unseen until enabled. One of the most useful, and extremely nifty features of iOS 5 is custom vibrations. It allows you to assign custom vibrations, ranging from the defaults of: alert, heartbeat, rapid, S.O.S and symphony, to allowing you the ability to create custom patterns to identify specific contacts. You can recognize who’s calling or texting you with simple and intuitive patterns that help you determine who your alert is from.

This tutorial will show you how to enable custom vibrations in iOS 5, and give you examples of how it can be used to your advantage.


To get started, you’ll need to enable custom vibrations under “hearing” in the accessibility menu. This can be found by following General>Scroll down>Accessibility,  then enabling custom vibrations.

Hearing menu in iOS accessibility settings


This will then enable an additional option in Sounds. At the bottom of the page, an option will appear called ‘Vibration Patterns’. This is where you can change your vibration alert, and make custom designs.

Vibration Patterns in iOS 5


You will then be greeted by the default vibrations listed under ‘Standard’. Here you can select the vibration you’d like as your default vibration for your whole phone.

Default vibration alerts in iOS 5

There are 5 preset vibration patterns in iOS 5.

  1. Alert is the standard vibration you will be familiar with.
  2. Heartbeat is self-explanatory, a pulsation of vibration within a sequence.
  3. Rapid is an increased vibration.
  4. S.O.S follows the morse code style vibration.
  5. And lastly, you can choose Symphony which give a unique rhythm to your vibration.


Here is where the true benefit of having custom vibrations in iOS 5 becomes apparent:

If you click on ‘Create New Vibration‘, you are welcomed  by a screen that looks similar to the microphone feature built into the iPhone. It has a standard ‘play’ button, and a ‘stop’ button.

tap to create new vibration patterns in iOS 5


To start creating your vibration simply ‘Tap’ on the screen, in your desired style or sequence. You then have 10 seconds to create your unique vibration for your intended purpose or contact.After creating your custom vibration you have the option to play it back and check what it will feel like when you receive a text or call with your chosen sequence. Afterwards, click save to save your customized vibration. You can then enable your newly created vibration for your whole phone by tapping it before leaving the menu.


Here’s where the magic begins and where the true capability starts:

If you go onto your contact list, which is accessed via Phone>Contacts, you can then enable the customized vibration you just created. This is perfect for prioritizing your contacts, important calls, or time sensitive texts.

adding custom alerts to iPhone contacts in iOS 5

While selecting your contacts that you want to customize, you can click the ‘Edit’ option on the top right hand corner. You will then see the option to define a ringtone, and a vibration. By default it’s the original Apple one, but by simply tapping the customized vibration you created, your selected contact is now assigned that custom vibration, enabling you to know who is calling before checking. Perfect while driving, in a meeting, or when you are busy at home or work.

assigning custom vibrations to iPhone contacts in iOS 5

I use this feature primarily during college to prioritize my calls, text messages with loved ones, relatives, friends, and others. It gives you a clear indication of who is contacting you without distracting you from either your studies or work. Custom vibrations in iOS 5 get your attention, according to the vibrations you’ve selected, allowing you to determine if the call is important or not. This feature is beneficial because it allows you to adjust how long it takes you to respond to calls or texts, and greatly improves your ability to effectively manage your time.

how to add custom vibration alerts to iPhone contacts in iOS 5

About the author:

I’m an Apple fanatic and an overall enthusiast of technology. I have a strong interest in business and advertising. I would consider myself as part of Apples’ ‘Think Different’ mentality. I like simple design with stunning visuals. I have a strong interest in photography, and enjoy keeping up to date with the latest and greatest gadgets. Follow me On Twitter @LJamesMcDonald and say hello.

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