Putting your iPhone onto vibrate mode is meant to make it silent — but put it on a hard surface, and the rattle when you get a call could wake an entire house. Apple is looking to fix that, and make the silent mode less intrusive, regardless of the surface it’s on.
According to a patent unearthed by Apple Insider, Apple is looking to embrace a feedback system to appropriately clamp down on vibration when it might cause a distraction. While the phone is vibrating, it’ll also be taking readings from a microphone and accelerometer. If the iPhone’s vibration is causing it to move significantly around a surface, or generating sound above a certain threshold, then the phone will either reduce it, or use an alternative alert.
That’s actually a pretty smart way of dealing with the problem. We’ve all had that occasion where a vibrating phone left on a table can be heard across a room — or even multiple rooms — despite being on “silent”. This way, you’d still feel the phone buzzing in your pocket, but not distract everyone when it’s on your desk.