Why did the phones go silent


I never cease to be amazed at how quickly things are changing. There were times when you could find out that your melody was old and should be replaced with something new and fashionable. About times, about morals! Until now, somewhere in my head, this melody from the movie “Boomer” sometimes plays. Tu-tu, tu-tu, tutu-tutu … Everyone has the opportunity to set their favorite song on the call. But less and less often I hear other people’s phones, almost all my acquaintances hold the phone in silent mode. In public transport and on the street, you can no longer hear the play of trendy songs or audio jokes. I became interested, began to reflect on the reasons and I want to share this with you.

Crucial moment. Is Steve to blame for everything?

Let’s remember the history of the development of ringtones. At first there were simple tweeters. This type of melody is called monophonic. It plays notes one at a time. Nokia has even developed a special language for typing and transmitting such melodies. It was called RTTTL (RingTone Text Transfer Language) and looked something like this: “d = 8, o = 5, b = 240: c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c6”. I remember how I got a book from somewhere in which there were sets of these melodies and we persistently rewrote them between lessons, entered them into the built-in editor of the phone and listened, enjoying this miracle of technology.

Why did the phones go silent

Nokia 2110 is the first phone of the Finnish company with a preinstalled corporate ringtone, which today is called “Nokia tune”. The phone came out in 1994

Then there was polyphony with a different number of voices. Multiple notes can be played simultaneously in polyphony. Their number grew rather quickly, and in a short time polyphony from four voices turned into 64 voices. Polyphony was a strong point of Korean phones at first. One of the legendary phones of that time was the Samsung C-100 with 40-voice polyphony. By the way, if someone was drawn to nostalgia, then you can read the review of this device, published on our website back in 2003.

As a result of this evolution, at the end of 2002, it became possible to set the so-called realtones on the call – this is nothing more than music in digital format, for example, mp3 or AAC. In principle, a logical outcome of development. It was very convenient: I downloaded the song to the player and at the same time installed it on the call. No need to bother with a separate download of special format ringtones. Today, even the cheapest dialer can set any mp3 song as a ringtone. Manufacturers no longer measure their votes.

It took many years until Apple introduced the first iPhone in 2007. Users of the novelty, accustomed to putting their own ringtones on a call and even personal melodies to different contacts, faced one misfortune – this cannot be done. Apple decided that even if you bought a song by your favorite artist, you need to buy it again for the ringtone. But that’s not all adventure. To download a melody to your phone, you need a computer, and not anyhow, but the one with which your iPhone is synchronized. Separately, I note that with two or more computers, iPhone sync could not be configured. It was possible to dance with a tambourine and download a ringtone without purchasing, but it was extremely laborious. Not everyone would like this option. I will not tell the whole scheme, you can look with one eye at the article that was published here in 2008.

With the light hand of Cupertinos, millions of iPhone users stopped setting their ringtones as a ringtone. I remember downloading a collection of ringtones on torrents, installing them for myself and throwing them to friends in order to somehow refresh the sound of the phone. But I did it only a few times and in the end I went with what I have. Separately, I note that the iPhone has always been considered a luxury item in our country, and someone did not change the standard melody so that no one had doubts about the brand of his phone. And so the time has come for monotonous melodies. Please note that even in the cinema, when a call or notification is shown, they often use the standard iPhone melodies in the same way as “Nokia tune” was used in the 2000s. This sound is strongly associated with phone notifications, but not because it is a reflection of the era, like a Nokia melody. And for quite understandable reasons set out above.

A paradigm shift. Ringtones are annoying

I have had a vibration phone for several years since the purchase of a smart watch. But recently I began to forget them, but I still don’t change the sound mode in the phone. There is enough vibration, the phone is always visible. If I’m driving, it connects to the audio system. Now such an opportunity exists in every new car, and in most used cars. When I move in public transport, I either listen to music or read from the screen, so vibration is even excessive in these situations. At work, he lies on the table. I will not miss an important call, I will answer your messages within an acceptable time frame. And continuous notifications only distract.

You know, I think many people turn off sounds because there are too many notifications. They are annoying. Now any application strives to notify you about something. Game – not played for a long time, mail – read spam, phone – updates, instagram – everything. The developers are already inventing such sophisticated notifications that one is amazed. An example from the latter, I looked at the cost of a car in the application for selecting a car, so I received news on this model twice a day for a whole week. VPN recently offered to secure my connections. The taxi was offered to stay at home, but was given a promotional code for the trip. These notifications are especially annoying when you are waiting for an important call or message. So you have to set vibro to lower the irritation status.

How amazingly the world is changing, at first the melody was an anchor of attention, new hits were advertised on TV, catalog magazines were handed out everywhere. And now I hear less and less melodies, and if I do, then regular ones. The same ones that were installed by the manufacturer. But irritation is not the only factor in the rejection of the sound of the melody.

The proliferation of wearable gadgets as a factor in behavior change

In recent years, the category of wearable electronics has grown exponentially. And not only in manufacturers’ reports. We can see it live on the hands, necks and heads of our fellow citizens. And this is not only all sorts of different watches, fitness bracelets, but also wireless headphones.

Even the simplest bracelet has a screen that will show the type of notification and vibrate. It’s hard not to notice the vibration on your wrist. And if you don’t even notice it, the sound of the phone won’t save you. A smart watch can not only show you who is bothering you, but also for what reason, and can even answer. When you have earphones in your ears, a ringtone will play in them, so you won’t miss a call.

Everything presses on the fact that the sound from the phone will be superfluous, duplicate, or something.

Additional devices take over not only some of the functions of your phone, but also the right to distract you. By the way, I noticed such a moment that with the advent of desktop messenger applications, it became easier to put the phone aside when working at a computer. Now most of the communication, both personal and work, has moved to instant messengers, and since typing is definitely more convenient at the computer, I try to use this mode whenever possible. And at these moments, notifications are duplicated, which also do not come simultaneously, but with a delay of a couple of seconds. That is, first I listened to the phone, then the computer. Of course, you have to give up at least one of them.

By the way, when I used the iPhone, I really liked the function of duplicating messages and calls on the MacBook. Let me explain for those who do not know. With iOS 8 and macOS Yosemite, you now have the ability to make and answer incoming calls from your macOS computer. Everything worked quite simply, with an incoming call you got a notification on the screen with the ability to accept or reject the call, you could also call yourself from the contact book of your computer. The call was coming from the phone, but the speaker and microphone were engaged on a third-party device, such as your computer. The only condition is that the phone must be connected to the Internet and not far from the computer. I remembered this, because then for the first time I felt the convenience of working at a computer without being distracted by the phone, while remaining available for calls.

No sound is part of the new etiquette

“Don’t talk with your mouth full!”, My parents told me, thus teaching me the norms of behavior. In the modern world, new chapters are added to etiquette. For example, is it decent to talk to a person and look at the phone while doing this? I’m sure you all don’t like this. Also, I do not like the booming phone near you, especially if it is not yours. And if he is a stranger at all? Here’s another example, you are on public transport, and your neighbor is in active correspondence with the sound of notifications turned on. How long can you ignore it and remain indifferent? I think the answers to these questions are obvious. I think we shouldn’t waste time on the moment that we do not want to listen to other people’s notifications anywhere, we have enough of our own.

I also noticed that I don’t want to draw attention to myself every time my phone rings. In addition to the fact that it may just be inappropriate, it gives some discomfort. Perhaps this is a reflection of the fact that I do not want to be distracted. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You have heard this expression many times, which is commonly called the “Golden Rule of Morality.”


I cannot fail to note that the sound on the phone is sometimes necessary for external reasons. For example, the specifics of your work or waiting for an important notification. But on an ongoing basis, more and more phones remain silent. By the way, while I was writing the text, I several times replaced the word “call” with “notification”, which once again reflects the changes in the patterns of using a mobile phone. If earlier we needed a sound, to go to the phone during a call, now we do not leave it for no reason and do not miss notifications.

Eldar Ibragimov (eldar@ripart.ru)

Published – 01 May 2020


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