Silencing the iPhone Strum Ringtone - Customizable Contacts?

The iPhone ringtones and customization issues.

Kevin Ho
Kevin Ho is an attorney living in San Francisco. He's from Iowa originally where he got his first Atari computer when he was little and remembers using the Apple IIGS. He is PC-user but secretly a Mac person in the closet as evidenced by many an iPod cluttering his desk drawers. He'll be writing about his experience with the iPhone. Disclosure.
Kevin Ho
2 min read

So in our excitement with the iPhone my friends and I all picked the "strum" ringtone on the iPhone. It's sunny, happy and seems to sound the best on the iPhone speakers. I think it's appealing to us since it sounds like the ads.With that, it's pretty confusing when our iPhones ring. A typical conversation: "Is it yours?" "No, it's my phone," followed by, "Oh, wait, no it really is my phone!" We're such geeks.

You can see where confusion lies. But this highlights the limited choice of the ringtones currently available on the iPhone.

Apple has said that customizable ringtones are coming "very soon." You would think that with, oh say 4 gigs or even 8 gigs of music that maybe just one of those music files could be devoted to a ringtone, or that some of those gigabytes could be devoted to a wider variety of ringtones.

From a lawyer's perspective I'm sure there are copyright issues with using a regular old music file as a ringtone as it would likely constitute a "performance" under the Section 101 of the 1976 Copyright Act, but still, we can dream and Apple can license.

Apart from that, another feature that I'd like to see an update is assigning ringtones to a particular contact. Sure, you can set your phone so that when "Johnny Appleseed" calls the "harp" ringtone sounds while John Q. Public's calls sound the "strum." But what if you don't want to answer Johnny's call because he's an ex? (Or Joanna Appleseed) What if you wanted to silent him (or her) both in terms of ringtone and otherwise. Unlike my old Motorola Razr, you can't do this on the iPhone - yet. The capability of NOT hearing from someone when they call (but hearing others) should be an option because I think we've all wished that when an ex (or a boss other undesirable) calls that we don't want to call divert them to voicemail as they'll be able to tell. Somehow the "strum" with all its sunny and happy appeal wouldn't be so fitting for these folks and I think we'd rather not know that they called. Perhaps the "alarm" ringtone would be, but then you'd still know it was them.