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Android Application Review : Ringo Pro

January 8, 2010
Are you looking to kick it up an notch and move beyond the drab ringtones that ship with your Android handset? If you answered with an enthusiastic “yes”, then you may want to take a look at Ringo Pro from Electric Pocket. Ringo Pro allows you to set custom ringtones and vibrate patterns for your incoming SMS and mobile phone calls. The application has fine granularity letting you customize the ringtone, the vibrate pattern and even the LED blinking color for each and every contact in your address book. Ringo Pro expands your choices beyond the stock Android ring and alert tones by allowing you to use your own music library as well as Ringo Pro’s repository which is free and easily downloaded to your phone. Now that the quick overview is out of the way, let’s take a look at the application itself and see if it lives up to our expectations. All the nitty, gritty details are after the jump.

Ringo Pro can be installed via the Android Market and installs itself as an application without any widgets or home screen components. The application runs in the background as a service and can be used with an auto-kill enabled task manager. Even if you kill the Ringo Pro process, it will re-launch itself whenever an incoming alert is detected.

As part of the first step in setting up Ringo Pro, you have to turn off the default Android alerts in the system settings. This was one area where we encountered some difficulty as the instructions with the application and on Electric Pocket’s website were not detailed enough. For the new Android user, trying to set this up may be a lesson in frustration as you have to go into the overall settings to disable the ringtones and then go into the settings for messaging and disable the alert tones there as shown below. This seems easy to a seasoned Android veteran, but the new user could benefit from a set of step-step directions with screen captures to detail the process. If you fail to disable the default ringtone and incoming SMS alerts properly, you will quickly realize your error as your phone will alert you with both the system alert and the Ringo Pro alert. Ringo Pro also allows you to customize the vibrate alert but the setup instructions mention nothing about vibrate and whether you have to turn that off in the system settings, too. Thankfully, you only have to disable these default system settings a single time so once you have them disabled you can forget about them.

When you open the Ringo Pro program, the launch screen allows you to setup ringtones for incoming calls and SMS messages as well as toggle the ringer between on/off/vibrate (see below left). You can also setup different ringtones for individual contacts. When you select your individual ringtone for incoming calls and for each contact, you can choose from any ringtone on your phone and any song in your music library (below right). The ringtone selections are categorized by recent tones, artists, all tracks, and Android system (built-in ringtones).

Also present on this initial screen is a button for “Advanced Alert Styles”. The bulk of the application is hidden behind this single button. Clicking it brings you to another screen where you can customize both the ring mode and the SMS alert style. The list of options that you can change is so long that I had to break it up into two screenshots which are shown below. Underneath the ring mode are options to set your phone to simultaneously vibrate and ring, escalate the ring, and/or vibrate then ring. For the SMS alerts, you can choose to have your phone vibrate with a plain vibrate, vibrate in a special pattern and/or blink the LED in your choice of six colors. SMS notifications can also be configured to appear when you are in a call, nag you at a set interval until your read your new message(s), show a popup with the text of the SMS, show a popup that alerts you to a new message but hides the text, and, finally, allow you to set the length of the SMS alert tone to 5, 10, or 30 seconds or for the entire length of the selected track. With all these options, you can customize your incoming phone and SMS alerts to your liking.

When selected as the default application for alerts and notifications, Ringo Pro can also be used to customize the ringtones for your any application that utilizes a ringtone alert, though Electric Pocket does not document the usage of the application in this manner. We tried it successfully with each our email accounts and even the alarm clock without any apparent problems. The application performed smoothly and we only encountered a few force closes during the two weeks which we have used the application. Those that are interested in Ringo Pro can checkout Electric Pocket’s website for additional information. The application is available from the Android Market as both the free Ringo Lite and the paid Ringo Pro.