I get three kinds of texts:
- Texts from my wife, which I want to read immediately
- Texts from Lifehacker’s podcast producer Levi Sharpe, which come five at a time
- Everything else, which can usually wait til later
I don’t have a smartwatch, and when I’m deep in conversation over drinks, I hate to pull my phone out just to check a text. But I don’t have to, because thanks to custom text vibrations, I know which texts are from my wife and need answering — and I know which text storms are from Levi, and can wait til my next bathroom break.
I assigned my wife’s texts to a heartbeat vibration (one of Apple’s standard choices), which is noticeably different from the default vibration, and is cute as hell. Everyone else gets the default vibration. If they text me a bunch in a row, I’ll immediately pull out my phone; otherwise I’ll wait.
But what about Levi, the absolute legend who can spread one sentence across ten texts? I made a custom “shave and a haircut” vibration. Now his text storms start a party in my pants, but the theme of that party is “there’s not an emergency, that’s just my good friend Levi.”
So if you haven’t already — and if you have, congrats, why are you reading this — here’s how to assign custom text vibrations on your phone.
- Open your Contacts app (or the Contacts tab on your Phone app).
- Choose the contact you want to assign a special vibration.
- Tap “Edit” in the top right, then “Text Tone,” then “Vibration.”
- Now choose from the standard options, or tap “Create New Vibration” to do that thing.
Or Use “Do Not Disturb”
There’s another way to handle all this: Use “Do Not Disturb” mode, but let certain contacts bypass it. (Offtime for Android provides a similar function.)
- Go into the Contacts app, choose your important contact, and tap “Edit” and “Text Tone.”
- Toggle “Emergency Bypass” so that contact still alerts you when Do Not Disturb is on.
- Turn on Do Not Disturb.
- Open Settings and tap “Sound & notification.”
- Tap “Do not disturb” and “Priority only allows.”
- Tap “Messages” or “Calls” and select “From starred contacts only.”
- Open Contacts and star your important contacts.
This “Do Not Disturb” method is less nuanced, more binary. Most of the time I like to know whether I’m getting a text, even if I don’t check it. But if you’re diligent at turning on Do Not Disturb, it should make your pocket buzz a lot less.