Have you ever taken the public transport somewhere, and heard someone’s cell phone ring and thought to yourself: “What a cool ringtone! I’ve really got to change mine to one like that!” Especially, if the person has their cell phone buried right at the bottom of their purse, and the whole bus or train compartment or train gets to hear the melody blast for a good few minutes while they scramble to dig it out and answer the call.

Today, ring tones have become an extension of our fashion sense, almost as significant, if not more, than the range of customized iPod covers or cellphone cases that exist with the latest trendy colors and images.

And getting that perfect ringtone, as simple as the download process is, seems of a technical complexity that can be considered challenging at best. Why is this? In part, it’s the range of choice. Google “ringtones” and you get over 110,000,000 hits – there are all kinds of ringtones! They are cool, free (or cheap), they are funny, they are polyphonic (now that’s a new word), and then there are the truetones, e-melodies and i-melodies, and the list goes on and on. (Polyphonic ring tones can have several notes at a time, as compared to monophonic ring tones which are a series of notes, one note at a time)

Understanding ringtones is like learning a new language or being able to play Nintendo or PlayStation.
So let’s take a look at what out there as the latest trends in ringtones:

Truetones, also called real tones, are ringtones, typically in AMR, MPE or WMA format, that are excerpts from songs. The first truetone dates back to Xmas 2002, when My Gift to You by Chemistry was first distributed.

If you consider yourself a musician or composer, you can create your own music tones, with a service like “My Mixer” which allows you to create your very own ring tones.

And if you’re ready to audition to Star Academy, then maybe the sing tone would be the right option for you. It’s a type of karaoke ring tone where a user’s voice recording is adjusted to be both in time and in tune then mixed with a backing track to make a user-created ring tone (which you can also do using MyMixer).

You’ve also got the option of the vibrating alert, which really is an alternative to the ringtone. This alert is well-suited for noise-sensitive environments, such as extremely noisy places or an extremely silent place. This is an ideal alternative, for example, for opera recitals where if you hear a ringtone, you wouldn’t want it to be your phone ringing.

You’re best starting place is to have a bit of fun and explore the first few pages on Google that come up when you search ringtones. Do be aware that not all are for free, and many don’t even let you create your own custom ringtones like the MyMixer service. It’s unlikely that you’ll acquire the cool distinctive sound you want without a minor cost. After all, if the ringtone industry has been generating over $2 billion worldwide (figure from 2005), then they somebody’s got to be paying for their ringtones. There are some folk that pay monthly to keep up-to-date with the very latest of late trends.

Then the next step might be is to starting testing out the popularity of the melody of your choice in the general public. If your cell phone rings in the bus, do you get a smile out of your fellow passenger or a funny look? And when you’re in that meeting and your cell phone blasts out “You rock my world”, what happens then. Don’t forget your ringtones are part of your professional image, and so you want to choose carefully.