I'm working on a phone app that works with Bluetooth Low Energy to interact with some hardware. When the Bluetooth has successfully connected to the hardware, it gives a short beep and a small vibration buzz to let the user know the interaction is complete.

These settings can be enabled/disabled in the settings screen. Now I learned that some phones actually have a "Vibration Intensity" setting, like the Samsung Note 9 (Android 8.1). If the value of these settings are set to 0, the vibration does not work regardless if the app vibration setting is enabled or not. We cannot detect this setting from the application, so the user might think that it's not working.

What is a good way to inform the user that the phone setting may override the vibration settings of the app? Or should we even inform the user at all?

-Edit- I just realized while posting this question this is the same for volume. The beep option does not work if the phone is on silent, and we usually don't inform the user of this either.

1 Answer 1


I think it should be reasonable to realize that if a certain cue is not reliable due to circumstances beyond your control (in this case - device configuration) then you cannot rely on it to provide critical information to the user. Such cues can only function as secondary. You should not notify the user about his phone settings - after all, there is nothing wrong with them, and it wouldn't be prudent to demand or even ask the user to configure his phone a certain way to "properly" use your app. It's also not exactly accessible to rely on sound and vibration motor alone to provide this kind of feedback, as it potentially wouldn't be detectable by a disabled user.

I would suggest to focus on presenting the feedback about an established connection visually first. The beep and motor can accompany if you so choose (though do check if you're not using too many cues at that point - you'd be practically using every feedback medium the device has to offer, not sure if the connection event is THAT critical)

  • 1
    Welcome to UX.SE, @JarasM! Good first answer—keep 'em coming! Jul 28, 2020 at 20:43
  • Just to clarify. There's a visual feedback as well, and the beep/vibration are optional and by default disabled
    – DennisW
    Jul 29, 2020 at 7:06
  • Also, your comment about asking the user to configure the phone for the app to work. Since we are creating a Bluetooth application, we demand that Bluetooth is enabled on the phone before the app is opened. If Bluetooth is off, you will start with a notification screen that informs the user that BL is needed. Unlike the vibration setting, we can simply detect this.
    – DennisW
    Jul 29, 2020 at 7:38
  • In that case there is little cause for concern. Visual feedback should be sufficient, if sound and/or vibration is disabled then these are global settings for the device and the user is unlikely to be concerned that they're missing in this particular app. You could add a note next to your setting for vibration or sound notification that these need to be enabled in the system to work, but that's something that should be obvious enough to not need a mention.
    – JarasM
    Jul 29, 2020 at 21:10
  • At the same time, your notification about Bluetooth makes sense in contrast to this - for one, BT is necessary for the main feature of your app to function. If you couldn't detect it enabled a message would make sense regardless, though of course all the better that you can provide a warning only when the setting is off.
    – JarasM
    Jul 29, 2020 at 21:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.