Events overtook drafts of this review on a daily basis last week, but my iPhone ringtone experience has been perfectly stable, thanks to Ambrosia Software's iToner for Mac OS X.
On Friday, August 31, 2007, Ambrosia released iToner, a $15 program that let you add custom ringtones to your iPhone. There were rumors that Apple was planning to release ringtones soon, but no firm details. I've never been a custom ringtone kind of guy, but something about the iPhone begs for customization, so I immediately got started.
On Wednesday, September 5, Apple announced that they would be releasing ringtones in the next version of iTunes, some time in September. Those ringtones would be limited to a subset of songs available in the iTunes Music Store, and would cost 99 cents on top of the price of the track itself.
On Thursday, September 6, Apple released iTunes 7.4. While the iTunes Music Store remained without ringtones, the new release of iTunes did disable all custom ringtones that people had created using iToner and other approaches. I didn't install iTunes 7.4, but waited to see if Ambrosia could let me keep my custom ringtones.
On Friday, September 7, Ambrosia released iToner 1.0.1, which worked with iTunes 7.4 and would let me keep my ringtones as-is. Other people found other workarounds to get free ringtones into their iPhones.
On Saturday, September 8, Apple released iTunes 7.4.1, which broke the other workarounds, but had no effect on iToner. (Since then, people have found more workarounds, so that if you have a hacked iPhone, you can still upload free ringtones.)
On Wednesday, September 12, Apple released ringtones into the iTunes Music Store. Early experiences have been disappointing, even frustrating, and most certainly expensive.
iToner continues to work like a charm. I downloaded version 1.0.1, then downloaded iTunes 7.4.1, and never saw any disruption of my ringtones, not even for a moment.
How It Works
Using iToner couldn't be any more simple. Launching the app brings up a window that looks like an iPhone, and any audio files dragged to the interface from the Finder or iTunes are ready to sync to the iPhone. iToner handles all of the file mapping and audio processing and moving the files to the iPhone automatically. I currently have 36 custom ringtones loaded, eight of which are from the iTunes Music Store and 28 of which are ripped from CD. While iToner accepts full-length songs, all of these have been trimmed to 36 seconds or less except for one I use as my alarm clock. The files include .m4p, .m4a, and .mp3. iToner handles them all easily.