Q: I have an iPhone 5 and an iPad 2. I know how to set up the ringtones for specific contacts on my iPhone, and likewise on the iPad, but if anything changes or I have to do a restore they are all lost. Isn’t there a way to set up the ringtones for the contact on my Mac running OS X and have them transfer to the device?
A: Unfortunately, despite this being a common question that we see, the answer appears to be that this is simply not possible.
Regardless of what method you use to sync Contacts, custom ringtone, text tone, and vibrations simply don’t get synced up to the cloud. While it’s understandable that third-party contact services such as Microsoft Exchange or Google Contacts may not have anywhere to save this information, it would appear that Apple has not even provided this capability in iCloud.
In fact, you’ll find that a custom tone field isn’t even available in the OS X Contacts app; this only appears on the Contacts app in iOS, and any changes made in this field are stored only locally on the device. There doesn’t even appear to be any way to export this information, and in fact this field isn’t available via the iOS Address Book APIs, meaning that it wouldn’t even be possible for a third-party app to backup or sync this information for you.
That said, as long as you don’t remove and re-sync your contacts, custom ringtone info shouldn’t normally just disappear by itself. Further, this information is stored as part of your iOS device backups, so in the event that you need to restore your entire backup onto your existing device or a new device, custom ringtone properties should come back with it as well. It’s small consolation, but in the meantime you can always submit feedback to Apple at http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html and hope that this gets considered for a future iOS update.