This article isn’t exactly a review of iToner, the new shareware application from Ambrosia Software, that allows users to create customized ringtones that work with Apple’s new iPhone. Instead, since I don’t have an iPhone to test the program with, it will be an overview of what iToner does, and how purchasing this application is different from using the ringtone feature recently added to iTunes and the iTunes Store.
First of all… who cares about custom ringtones? Well, lots of people. Many people like to know, just by the sound of the “ring” their phone emits, exactly who’s calling. So if you wish to hear a certain song when a certain someone is calling… you can do exactly that.
Apple recently added a custom ringtone feature to the iTunes Store. How it works is that artists on the iTunes Store need to give permission for people to use their songs as ringtones. For all those songs that have received an ‘okay’ from the artist, iPhone users can purchase the rights to use them as ringtones, for roughly two dollars. What if you want to use a song you’ve already purchased? You still have to pay Apple a dollar. And if you want to use a song you’ve ripped from a CD… you’re completely out of luck. Because of this, many people have tried to find workarounds to the custom ringtone situation, many of which involve more than a little bit of hacking, and most of which have been defeated by recent iPhone updates.
But not iToner. Released by Ambrosia Software (makers of tons of Mac video games and utilities), iToner, which costs $15.00, has managed to – so far, at least – remain 100% functional.
To add a song on your computer into the iPhone list of custom ringtones, simply drag the song (AAC and mp3 work, as do songs purchased from the iTunes Store), into the main iToner window (which looks like an iPhone). Hit the Sync button, and the songs are automatically added to your ringtone list.
One thing to consider, of course, is that the song you just dragged into your ringtone list might be three, four… even five minutes long! When you purchase a ringtone from Apple, it is limited to 30 seconds, which – in reality – is probably long enough. So you may want to download a basic audio editor to do a bit of trimming, before adding the song to your iPhone.
There is a free program called Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net), that can be used, as well as a program called Fission, which I wrote about here.
All in all, it makes a lot of sense to me to purchase a $15.00 license to iToner, especially if an iPhone owner plans on using a lot of custom ringtones. Even if you’ve already purchased the songs from iTunes, you’ll only be able to create 15 ringtones through iTunes. With iToner, your $15.00 gets you unlimited ringtones from music you already own, and you only need to purchase a track from the iTunes Store once (instead of twice), to get a ringtone if you want to use something you don’t already own.
The concern, of course, is that Apple will do something drastic in an attempt to lock out these third-party ringtone options. Ambrosia Software has addressed this, saying they will do everything in their power to keep iToner working. If not, expect some type of compensation, such as a partial discount or a coupon good for a purchase from the Ambrosia catalog.
Either way, iPhone users, I’d recommend trying out iToner. It sure beats Apple’s custom ringtone solution!