I Discover Ringtones

6 October 2007

I’m not a “phone guy” and can’t buy an iPhone here in Australia, so I’ve let all the developments and hoo-hah regarding ringtones wash over me. I did notice an interesting item in Lostify that I’ve just had a chance to try out.

It’s probably been covered before and may not work with the 1.1.1 update, but I thought I’d mention a technique for creating ringtones that I’ve discovered. I should note that it’s a Mac-only solution.

Ringtones Library

As you can see above, I have a number of ringtones that didn’t come from the iTunes Store. I’ve never been interested in using music for ringtones. These are all comedy items, one from the Adult Swim website relating to The Venture Bros., and the others are from the popular Australian national daily radio show Get This with Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee. Here’s the technique:

You must use AAC (.m4a) files, so if your source is MP3, as all these were, use iTunes to convert them first. These all happened to be 128kbps mono, so I matched the bitrate but converted them to stereo in case there are any future incompatibility problems with mono. Here are the settings I used in Preferences > Advanced > Importing:

Ringtones Conversion Settings

Then delete the files from iTunes and take them out of the trash and put them in a temporary folder. I found that if I Lostified from within iTunes, iTunes didn’t refile them as ringtones, so you have to do the tagging outside. Drag all these files to Lostify 0.7. You can change all the tags you like, but this is the important one, File Kind:

Lostify 0.7: Set Ringtone File Kind

Apply this change to all your files (use the padlock next to the field so you don’t have to select it each time), then drag the files into iTunes. iTunes now sees them as ringtones and they will appear in the separate Ringtones library (you may need to turn on visibility in Preferences > General).

The Ringtones library behaves a little differently to the other libraries:

  1. You can’t drag these into a playlist.
  2. You can’t play all sequentially. If you play one, it will stop after finishing rather than starting the next in the list.
  3. You can’t use Album or Cover Flow views. You can tag ringtones with artwork, however.

So there’s a solution to create ringtones. Whether it works with an iPhone is questionable. I’d like to know if anyone using this technique finds success. For myself, it’s all a bit useless because I don’t have anything to use these with, but I enjoyed the opportunity to organise my ringtones into a separate library. Prior to this, these were in my music library, and of course, they aren’t music. It’s like when audiobooks were separated out into their own library. Much better organisation.

Update 15 Nov: With the advent of 1.1.2 iPhone and iPod Touch, it seems that you can easily add ringtones 30 seconds or less in length by renaming a .m4a file as .m4r and dragging into iTunes. I didn’t know that ringtones had a different extension. I still think it’s a good idea to Lostify them for completeness.


Video for the New iPods: Compatibility or Quality?

5 October 2007

The type of content I’ve most enjoyed on the Touch so far is music video. I’ve filled mine about 75% with music video which I watch at work. As I have 414 separate videos, I’ve been rotating them through and one thing has become clear: compatibility is more important than quality, especially if the prime target for viewing this content is an iPod. I’ve just had a batch of MPEG4-encoded videos, all of which played on my 5th-Gen, fail to display video on playback on both the Touch and Classic. Audio is fine, just no video. I think this is because I used to push the envelope, encoding at 1500kbps MPEG4, which is the highest MPEG4 video bitrate the iPod can support, and also because I made 16:9 videos 720 x 400 pixels instead of the iPod standard of 640 x 360. Result is incompatibility or, at best, borderline compatibility.

So I’ve made the decision to make every music video iPod-compatible. It will result in lower-resolution 16:9 videos but honestly, I can’t be bothered trying to push the envelope any more. I’ve got too much on and I’ve been enjoying the iPod quality. QuickTime Player or iTunes will convert a non-DVD video between 320 and 640 pixels wide into a H.264 video with the same resolution. Handbrake 0.9’s new GUI access to the command-line parameters gives much better results. The new chaptering feature adds another reason to redo your long-form video.

So that’s my advice to you. This of course applies to any content targeted at an iPod. I still rip DVD movies and TV Shows at a much higher quality because they are aimed at Apple TV.

You Can Delete Videos on the iPod Touch!

2 October 2007

At least, to my knowledge, this is undocumented. Look at this:


In the same way that you can delete certain items on the iPhone, you can delete individual videos. You swipe your finger from left to right over the list entry and you get this Delete button. If you click it, you are asked to confirm, then away it goes.

Strangely, you can’t delete songs. I wondered what could be the purpose of manually deleting content until I thought about the WiFi iTunes Store. You could easily run out of room for purchases, so you can throw out the big stuff to make way. Also useful if the contacts you enter balloon out of control. 😉

Speaking of contacts, you can’t delete them in this manner, although you can delete them if you edit them first. You can’t edit nor delete calendar events.

I wonder what else I’ll find.