The UX of Sound and Vibration in Android Phones

Posted By Debbie on Oct 6, 2017 in Human Behavior, Mobile, UX/UI


It’s September 2017 and I don’t think iPhones do this yet. Email me if it’s September 2017 and I’m wrong. 🙂

My Android phone helps me be more social. I turn on my phone screen less often. Why? Because I know SO much about a notification from sound and vibration.

Most apps let you pick custom notification tones. So what a WhatsApp message sounds like is different from a Facebook message, different from a text message, different from email, etc… I think iPhones do that to some extent.

Many of my apps also let me choose vibration patterns. I could have my phone on silent, have it in my pocket, and have a good idea what a notification represents. This means that every time a notification goes off, I might not have to turn on the phone screen and see what that was. That means I’m listening to you more. 🙂

I have different vibration patterns for:

  • Calendar reminder
  • Each email address (four out of my five email addresses have custom vibration patterns so I can only check if I think that’s an important account based on what’s going on in my life right now)
  • WhatsApp message

These also each have different sounds. My notification for Ptype email is not the same sound as my notification for personal email. And as a sound chick, I’ve cut all my own samples… which means they won’t sound like anybody else in the room, train car, etc… My phone will never go off and you think it’s your phone. Oh, do you have a sample of “Dali’s Car” for when you get a text message? No, surely not.

Some patterns are similar. I can’t always tell a text message vibration from ones with the same pattern. But I have a few patterns that help me know from a silent, vibrating phone whether or not this might be worth looking at.

Really nice when I’m around other humans like at meals or in meetings.

Once upon a time, I had a Palm phone.

In 2009, I had the rebirth of the Palm phone. It was going to be the best phone ever! I got it and found that I was way less social than before. Not great to be around. CONSTANTLY checking my phone to see what was going on.

Why? Am I just a jerk? I hope not. It was because the Palm had ONE notification sound. Bonk-bonk, sounded like Law and Order. It went off for everything. Text message, calendar reminder, email, etc… I had NO idea what things were and what might be important so I pulled out the phone seemingly constantly and had to check. What was that bonk-bonk?! Was it important? It was no fun to go to dinner with me.

Is that too much to remember?

Deb, your last post was about various LED colors for notifications. Now sounds and vibrations? How does anybody remember all this? Trust me, you do. There aren’t as many as you think. Maybe there are 7-10 of them. If you keep them consistent over months and years, you will know what’s what.

My boyfriend even learned what’s what within weeks of dating. “Buzz buzz” oh you have a personal email. “Buzz buzz buzz” oh you have a Ptype email, you might want to check that. New boyfriend is a good dude with an excellent memory, among other attractive qualities. 🙂

But this is part of why I’m such an Android fan. I feel like Android does more with more customization that helps me be more productive AND more human. Among other things I love about it.

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