I, like many others, was happy to see Apple finally add custom alert tones to the iPhone’s repertoire. Sure, the world is now going to be a lot more annoying place with random Star Wars sound effects and Old School quotes going off everywhere, but what can you do? You either do the annoying, or you are the annoyed.
Apple sells alert tones in the iTunes Music Store mobile app, or you can make your own the same way you make ringtones (see our thorough instructions here). Apple’s alert tones cost $0.99—a high price for what is a usually a second or two of sound, but it’s a price I shamefully admit I already paid. Below is a video I made of the current top 20 alert tones in iTunes:
Unfortunately, you can’t access alert tones in the desktop version of iTunes (correct me if I wrong somebody), instead, you need to do it through the iPhone/iPad app. The simplest way is to go to Settings–>Sounds and select a tone to change, eg, Text Tone. Then tap Buy More Tones.
That will launch the Tones section of the iTunes Music Store. Here’s the important part, now you must scroll down past the Ringtones to find the Alert Tones section. I suggest starting with the Top 10 lists and exploring from there.