Custom Ringtones in Windows Phone 7.1 Mango – Convoluted Mess or Creative approach to ‘new’ features?

| June 29, 2011 | 73 Replies

Nokia’s always had custom ringtones

I’ve been using customizable ringtones since my 3310 allowed editable monophonic ringtones. Then we had a slew of polyphonic ringtones, finally the freedom of mp3 ringtones and even video ringtones – with any supported music/video file being usable as a ringtone.

It’s just one of the slew of features that we take for granted. I have a song, I want to use that as a ringtone – BAM! – It’s a ringtone. I record audio – I can set that as a ringtone. Most recently, apps like loop allow you to make your own loop track and set those as ringtones.

I always found it ridiculous how companies like Jamster could make millions from ringtones when I might have that song already on my phone. I guess that’s part of the ‘make-it-easy-for-average-joe’ thing, the convenience value. Ovi Store offers ringtones too.

There’s no issue with the file. Your Nokia will always play the first 30 seconds (or however long until voicemail thing kicks in).

WP7 no custom ringtones – coming in Mango update

Like the first iPhone, Windows Phone does not come with customizable ringtones. I’ve been stuck on the ones on my Samsung Omnia 7 since February. >_</

Something I take for granted on Nokia Phones. I have a song, I can turn it into a custom ringtone. This is supposed to be coming in Mango. The first demo showed downloading ringtones.

Here’s the deal with having your own ringtones for mango:

  • 39 seconds or shorter
  • smaller than 1 megabyte (MB)
  • saved in MP3 or WMA format
  • not copy-protected (i.e. DRM free)

Well that’s annoying. BTW I use iTunes to cut my music tracks. There are other apps available, but that’s what I’ve always used to trim down my tracks (and that’s the only use I have for that iThing)

You transfer this file as a ringtone with Zune but first, you must change the genre to ringtone. WHY all the extra steps huh?!?!

On the plus side, I guess, items marked as ringtone won’t appear in the music collection. One of the things I do find annoying is that since every applicable file is seen as a ringtone on Nokias, it will take FOREVER to find your ringtone if you have a lot of media.

update (what I get for writing this late last night): Well that’s if you’re in profiles and setting ringtones. You could just set the ringtone in music player with a song playing>set as ringtone. Search is a good option in profiles. It’s also (on s^3) split up into tones/songs/soundclips. Markedly simple, actually.

Doing something more with the new feature?

When I read from the Windows Phone blog that they were expecting a slew of ringtone creator apps, my initial reaction was, why? Just give me the capability to set .mp3 as a ringtone and I can do everything myself – set MP3 recordings/songs etc.

What Windows Phone is trying to do is promote some App Creativity around the whole ringtone theme. Music Apps, sound effects apps, DJ apps, instrument apps, karaoke apps – all being a source of new ringtones.  WP is doing this by allowing developers to build ringtone apps or ringtone related features to existing apps (like the ones mentioned above).

To start, give me an app that finds my music, copies it, let’s me cut it to where I want the ringtone to start and end and put that in my ringtones folder. I think that would be cool if you had a soundboard app or piano app, if you could then set what you played as a ringtone.

Making features easy to use?

I haven’t used it so I don’t know how difficult or hard this will be when I get Mango  – this is just based on what I understand from WP blog.

Change is always difficult. It’s not the custom ringtone scenario I had expected. The format with custom ringtones (or should I say limitations) is not the simplest it could be. It’s all seemingly convoluted to have to use trimmer programme to cut down a song (I don’t know if Zune does this) and then have to change tags and then connect with Zune. I’m not sure if this was done to create some sort of artificial need for developers to solve the easy-ringtone problem (just like the lack of built in features in early iPhone inspired a wealth of apps to populate the appstore to create features – or attempt to – that try to do what Symbian’s been doing for years).  I hope at least on the Zune player it’ll have a very nice techphobe-friendly way of making ringtones.

I dislike that as a power user I’m slightly limited to what I can do (i.e. all mp3 as ringtones) but I like that Windows Phone doesn’t just add the feature as a tickbox. It will be in a way users can appreciate and engage with it (through ringtone apps). This is key to technology. I wrote a rant that I’ve not published called “it’s NOT technology, it’s what you do with it”, the N8’s slogan. It revisits Nokia’s bountiful feature packed device, but their lack of ability to communicate these features and implement them in a way that consumers find engaging, something they connect to emotionally because they can see and understand exactly how these things will become useful to them and how they can see themselves using these features as part of their everyday lives. This is possibly something that might happen with ringtone apps. Hopefully Mango does have a simple integrated way of choosing your song list if you wish (but of course by default, all songs NOT appearing in ringtones list).

Taking advantage of what you have – the Apple way.

It’s one thing I always commend Apple on. They market ‘well’. How? They humanise features. They make you connect with these features. They make you see not just WHAT this feature is, but WHY this feature is here and HOW it can fit in with your life. When you create a function, you create a need and you create a desire, and it will be just your device that can fill that necessity and that desire. This is why I always find the random meaningless, artsy, vague Nokia ads terribly annoying. This is why I find it disappointing when I see product launches that undersell devices to disturbing levels. They’re just wasting everyone’s time. Essentially it’s just about simply taking advantage of your assets. Something Nokia has failed to do time and time again, not just in the failure to make products that is a total beast (even though they can) but also just utter fail when it comes to selling it, from product launches to ads. The N9 is so far picking up on lessons (though I think it could have been bigged up much more on launch day – though there may be reasons for not doing so)

I call this the ‘Apple way’ because of what ‘little’ they have, they always make it seem like it’s huge. E.g. the feature phone iPhone 1, redefined smartphones. And then they build on this. Here’s a rant from last year:

I’ll do another post another time on what I expect at the next major keynote. I’m certainly expecting high performance at Nokia World 2011 when Nokia’s focus products are announced.

In other Windows Phone news – Angry Birds is finally on the platform. Well there we go, it’s now an actual smartphone now :p.


Category: Nokia, Rant, Windows Phone

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]