iOS 5 features: LED flash, custom vibration patterns for alerts

iOS 5 features: LED flash, custom vibration patterns for alerts

Apple is once again upping their accessibility game with iOS 5, this time adding LED flash and custom vibration patterns to better inform users when calls and other alerts come in.

It may not be as sophisticated as BlackBerry or Android notification lights, but it's an option in iOS 5. Will you use it?

[Thanks Dylan]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 5 features: LED flash, custom vibration patterns for alerts


iPhone needs a LED notification light. People who don't like it can turn it off without issue, so there really is no reason to omit it as a feature. Like it? Turn it on. Don't like it? Turn it off with no harm done.

Some Other IOS5 Features:
Preference to open pages in Safari in a new page or in background (amazing!)
More alert choices for emails, calendar, and the ability to buy more
Ability to create keyboard shortcuts (autotext) to replace custom phrases. The default entry is “omw” which is replaced with, “On my way!”
Software update option in settings to check for the latest OS
Sync now button to wireless sync to iTunes
Ability to customize how notifications in Notification Center look — you can customize how many recent ones to show, 1, 5 or 10, if it’s showed in the lock screen, if it’s in Notification Center, and also the alert style, banner or alert style
Twitter installs directly from the settings page if it’s not installed directly, you aren’t even taken to the App Store
FaceTime button in iMessage messages at the top now
Tweeting photos is, so so slick. It displays on Twitter as powered by Photobucket, and it’s from iOS

There’s a new option to print out from the Maps app…
You can make new albums right from the device itself in Photos
You can move and add photos to albums
Doesn’t look iMessage is fully baked in here yet.
You can customize the default alert times. This is so needed — so now when you enter a calendar entry, you don’t have to set the default alert time
Email flagging doesn’t look to be enabled in this beta, though S/MIME support is

Email flagging doesn’t look to be enabled in this beta, though S/MIME support is. Never mind, it is. You have to go into the message and tap “mark”
It seems that Reminders sync with Exchange (Tasks basically), but you can’t set location-based reminders if you’re on Exchange, just with iCloud. You can selectively choose where to sync the reminder though, it’s just not streamlined if you use Exchange
You can set the caller ID for FaceTime calls, so if you call someone, you can choose it to display your cellular number or email address

In the weather app, there is a new pane for a current location which will show you weather for wherever you are
When syncing with iTunes you can use the device normally ‚ no more syncing screen
You can delete individual calls from the call list

I don't think you'll be able to use the LED flash indicator without actually having one on your hardware first, something I imagine we will be seeing with iPhone 5. When it does show up, how are we to assume that it won't be as sophisticated as what is offered on BB or Android? Am I missing something here?

Yes, I am aware of the flash on the back of the phone, which is used for the purposes of illuminating photos in dim settings. That hardly seems appropriate for the task of alert notification, though. I guess I assumed that the inclusion of this as a feature was a hint at a proper notification LED on the front of the next iteration hardware rather than Apple half-assing it with the current setup. Oh well.

With the led being on the back of the phone, how is this feature, that does sound attractive to me, worth anything?

Yea. That's not gonna happen for me. I roll naked with no screen protector or case or anything and even if I had a screen protector and/or a case that kept the glass off the surface such as the bumper, I still wouldn't do it.

i dunno about the flash, but it's a step in the right direction. if there were an LED on the face of the phone that would blink different colors/patterns i'd wet myself.
i already love that the sms vibrate is different, so i'll probably jump on that feature like a trampoline.

They blew it by not adding a quick reply feature for SMS like bitesms does.
Other than that it is a great update.
Very stoked on apple.

Agreed. I am sure apple released an API for quick SMS reply back at launch of iOS 4 however each app had to implement it separately. As yet I haven't seen any app use this however

yeah i have to agree on that one, that was a key feature i was hoping for, lets see how bitesms will work itself in to iOS 5

Wow!!! This is a blatant copy of Android and WebOS..It appauls me that the most popular phone in the world didn't have these features 3 years ago..So much for intuitivness

And I'm sure your face appauls your mother. If anything it's a copy of lockinfo. Go cry jr

And you trolls are the same everywhere. Nothing better to do then visit the sites of a company you don't like and post retarded comments. Pathetic.

led flash is kind of weird on the 4 since its on the back...maybe we'll see it on the 4S/5 similarly to how it is on the macbook the microphone

How come SMS delivery notification is still missing?
Also I think apple should allow u to delete only the calls u want to delete from call log instead of a delete all.

If she's already looking thru his call history, it's likely too late. ;)
I could care less if my gf thumbed thru my phone. Mostly she'd find that I hang out here more than I probably should and that I watch very boring documentaries on Netflix.

I'm all for these accessibility "features". Kind of silly to use the LED light though, kind of bright for me. I'd rather have a choice of color, low intensity notification light. That would be perfect.

This is an accessibility feature for disabled persons. That's why it's better to have a bright light anyway. If this feature were for everyone they wouldn't even release it like this.

Only problem with that is the mic is on the bottom of the phone. Putting the notification light there is better than it being in the back but it's still pointless. It needs to be on the front of the phone. Also, ibrhink it would be awesome if the only time you could tell the light was there is when the light is lit up.

Hilarious. Copy of Windows Phone, Android and webOS. Apple has outdone themselves. Notifications is a copy of Android and WinPhon7, Camera up is a fail copy of WinPhone's camera button press and hold. They stole the Windows 8 thumb keyboard. Background downloads from WinPhone, internet page background loading from WinPhone. OTA updates from all of them, Twitter integration from WinPhone and iCloud copies Skydrive's features on WinPhone AND you get 25 GB of free storage.

Regarding "the Windows 8 thumb keyboard": Mockups of this exact thumb keyboard were on Mac blogs within days of the original iPad release. (Sorry, purported "stealing" goes both ways)

With the clear case on my iP4 and bitesms the l.e.d. flash alert for text messages is very useful. I didn't intentionally by the case to use the l.e.d. feature but i couldnt imagine even using it with out it. Its kind of messed up that they finally did it but i'm glad that apple took some features from the jailbreak scene.

Why not make the screen flash white (or whatever color the user chooses) quickly as a notification? Seems that would be pretty easy. Even better - flash the Apple logo on the screen (like when you're restarting your phone) as a notification.

i have a suggestion, since the LED light serves as a reminder than why not, when the screens off have a small portion of the screen like a light the size of a typical notification light on bb on the screen when the screen is off, it wouldn't consume so much battery its hidden and it doesn't require any new hardware

Don't care about the LED notification light. That's what i have alert tones for. I'm more interested in how close this new ios will be to Lockinfo. That's my primary app!

I'd rather have Facebook integration IMO, but I know a ton of people are gonna enjoy the system wide Twitter integration. I hope they add support for Facebook in the future..

Same here. I would of rather had Facebook integration. What they should of done is make it an option to have Facebook or twitter in there , that way there's not a ton of options not needed.

I believe they were working on an undisclosed deal that fell threw--This may have been part of those negotiations.

Using LED flash as an alert is the cherry on the top.. for an ex BB user as I myself. Honestly that and BBM were the only two things I missed from BlackBerry.
Peopl are complaining, but really I'm glad apple have at least added value to my phone, instead of only including this feature in the next iteration of iPhone and forcing me to upgrade. Jeez its better than nothing.
It really seems like apple heard peoples cries and reacted.

"It really seems like apple heard peoples cries and reacted."
More like Apple finally saw Android eating it's lunch and decided to go back and cover some of the basics.

i like all the features but like i said earlier i think quickreply for sms should have been a built in feature, stuff like imessage is cool and all but just doesn't seem groundbreaking for an iOS device, i just don't get the difference between message app and message, and newsstand is a big feature? that just seems very stupid like it could have been integrated with ibooks, it just makes sense to it it that way

Some of you complain that Apple was not original in some of it's new features. What? The use of the LED light not original enough?

Hey, is there any APP I can download so the little apple icon will come on or flash on the front screen when a message is waiting or a call is missed? Similar to the red LED on a blackberry. The flash on the back is kinda pointless.

Hey, is there any APP I can download so the little apple icon will come on or flash on the front screen when a message is waiting or a call is missed? Similar to the red LED on a blackberry. The flash on the back is kinda pointless.

Yes....makes perfect sense that a phone should have an external indicator light to alert user they missed a call, have txt msg or email that is unread. My home answer machine has an LED indicator why not my iPhone.

i am using it now...but its a bit pointless having it on the back, isn't it! we know what'll be on the front of the iphone 5 next to the front camera now, don't we ;)

thats the point..... with it face down, you couldnt see the screen light up from a notification. now you get a light notification either way.

Poster probably meant if he received a text or missed a call later walked up on it he wouldnt know he ever missed anything. Unless your babysitting your phone, and if you were then you wouldnt need an indicator because you wouldnt miss anything. The iphone version is a pointless feature...

I need only delivery report for SMS, not just so stupid functionality.
If someone likes it OK, but there are the most important things to implement...

sorry ,,sdhn97,, but this is wrong answer. Adam Devlin you can turn it on/off by turn on/off flash in camera mode. enjoy!

Mine wont work after i turned it on in the accessibility options, anyone having this issue? I was so excited for this option but it doesnt seem to work :/

mine stopped woring after a while. it is on in settings and flash work in camera mode. but wont light up when text is recieved.

you say it need to be locked, but mines worked for a week on the GM version and then updated to the official version and it worked still, and now its just stopped, locked or unlocked :(

OK I was find solution for this :-) You MUST have enabled LED Flash in Camera mode. If you have it OFF like was my problem, LED doesnt flash in message and call notification. enjoy! Foxino

Does anyone know how to assign the custom vibration alert that I created on my iPhone 4s so that it also works for my calendar alerts? It seems that, even though I have the custom vibrate (stronger and more frequency) working for my incoming calls, I get the same old weak, one buzz alerts for my appointments. This causes me to miss some.