• iOS App Review - Dring

    Though the number of default ringtones that come with a new iPhone has increased over the last couple of iOS iterations, the quality and range of those ringtones still isn't fantastic. The easiest way to fix that is with a quick trip to the iTunes Store and a simple $2 song download for immediate use (something which only Apple can offer), but there are bound to be plenty of iPhone users who would rather not pay and/or use more obscure songs as their ringtone of choice. Enter Dring, one of the most beautiful and powerful choices on the market.

    As you would expect, Dring utilises the iPod library access introduced in 2009 to make it possible for just about any song on your iPhone to be selected and edited. The app features a large wavelength display during this process, which works by taking the full song and then allowing a certain portion to export (similar to Apple's own Trim option inside QuickTime X). There's a forty second time limit and a fade option to perfect your ringtone. As always, it is worth keeping in mind that a Mac will allow more cut options and better fade control than any iPhone app.

    Having said that, Dring's editor can be extremely accurate, and by taking another cue from Apple, the preciseness of that editor can be altered with a simple swipe and hold up or down. Finally, the app also allows for live voice recordings. Combined with the ability to set a personal ringtone for particular contacts, you could create a personalised message for each person in your address book.

    Dring has a beautiful user interface which serves to greatly enhance the entire process of creating a ringtone from scratch. In places, it feels like a Tapbots affair, though the dark wood background differentiates it from the work of Mark and Paul. Perhaps it would be better to say that the UI resembles an old tape recorder, especially given the clicky buttons near the bottom half of the screen. The length editor's dominance over screen real estate is especially pleasing, since it makes proper music editing much easier on a small screen device like the iPhone. The smaller slider to adjust the whole song that appears just underneath can be confusing, but most users are likely to get the hang of it after a few attempts.

    What Dring (or any other ringtone app) cannot do is complete the process of creating then actually using a ringtone. The app does try to make it as simple as possible with export options currently including email and file transfer through iTunes, but both methods still require the user to drag the file into the Ringtones section of iTunes (which can be an arduous task in itself for novices) before syncing the iPhone again and then finally selecting it for use. This process will be made easier when iOS 5 is released later this year with Wi-Fi sync, though the ultimate solution would simply be for Apple to open up access for developers to place ringtones in the Sounds library.

    Despite that one major caveat, Dring is the best ringtone creator I've encountered in the App Store. It is a simple, elegant and efficient application that makes the process of creating a new ringtone fun, even for the newest of iPhone owners. Given how often everyone in the vicinity checks their pocket when that “Marimba” tone goes off in a public area, the world would be a much better place if everyone bought an app like Dring.

    Version reviewed: 1.3
    Price: $2.49
    Developer: Wake Apps
    Requirements: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (4th generation) or iPad 2 running iOS 4.0 or later
    App Store
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