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Ringtones Over The Years
The Dark Years Of Mobile Phones
Whenever someone calls me on my cell phone, a music video of Jay-Z begins playing. The 15-second clip repeats itself over and over until I pick up the handset then either answer or hang up. That’s my video tone, a far cry from the monophonic ringtones my first cell phone came pre-installed with.
Ringtones have come a long way. Back in the dark years of mobile phones, I was thrilled to discover I can change my ringtone from 20 different simple-sounding tunes pre-loaded in the unit. One day, I’d have the old phone ringing sound on. The next, I’ll have some classical melody buzzing me whenever I’m getting a call. I used to choose the most obnoxious-sounding tone for my alarm clock sound. It was a simple pleasure – one that made the cell phone more than a communication tool.
Little did I know how much else technology had in store.
First, I upgraded to a phone that allowed me to program my own ringtones. I thought it was insanely genius! Just type in a series of notes, sample it, save it, update my settings and there you have it – a new ringtone. I spent a decent amount of time scouring the web for tutorials on how to program specific songs and must have entered over a hundred of them!
Next, the cell phone services started offering them for downloads. It sounded brilliant – get all the latest songs as ringtones without having to type in anything. I signed up for the service and ended up paying for over a year, unable to figure out how to cancel long after the novelty of that wore off.
Of course, both the cell phone services and the units themselves just got more and more sophisticated over the succeeding years. I can still recall my amazement when I first heard a polyphonic ringtone – it’s like having real music instead of successive single notes! Now, most ringtones are literally music and videos – the same ones you watch and listen to on your iPod – alerting you to a caller at the other end of the line.
While the cell phone services continue to offer download subscriptions for ringtones and videotones, I make most of mine at home. Technology has worked to serve me again, this time with software that creates ringtones from music I already own on my PC. Sure, it’s a little extra work but I don’t mind. It lets me have really unique ringtones, from private recordings to patched-up medleys to original mixes.
After videotones came out though, I’m pretty lost about what could come next. We already got everything from midi-style monotones to audio-visual treats pretty taken care of. If there’s anything I’m really left to wish for, I guess it would be a single ringtone format that can work for all phones. It’s a pain to convert an MP3 for my Samsung and then have to do a different run for a different phone. Apart from that, I guess it’s all up-in-the-air for me. Could there still be something left to surprise us with ringtones in the next generation of phones?
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