Once upon a time, I would have considered myself a die-hard Android fan. Android was my first “modern” smartphone experience, and was the platform I went with due to the fact that the iPhone was still an AT&T exclusive at the time. I was really happy with Android for a lot of reasons, and I loved how much you could customize your phone. However, as time went on and Apple’s iPhone eventually became as widely available as it is today, I ended up switching at one point and felt the same way that many already had about the platform: iOS was great because “it just worked”.
That was back in 2011, and I still feel that iOS does a good job of being the platform that “just works”. However, even though I feel that way I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are still a lot of things that Apple could do to improve the iOS experience. For example, I still think that iOS could use a “Dark Mode”, similar to the one available on OS X (and no, “Gray Scale” doesn’t count). I also hope to see some customization options come to the Control Center. Although it’s clear that Apple isn’t exactly fond of having too many customization options, I can’t remember the last time I used AirDrop or AirPlay, and some of the options on the bottom row I have never touched, but I digress. What I’m saying is, iOS is great in my opinion, but far from perfect.
Apple makes tweaks to iOS all the time in new software versions, and iOS 9.3 is next at bat. While I don’t normally care much about these incremental updates (except for that really neat burrito Emoji we got in 9.1) 9.3 manages to bring something truly great in my opinion to iOS users: Night Shift.
You may recall back in November that f.lux, traditionally a computer program that can adjust your display settings to an appropriate “temperature” for the time of day, was available for the first time for non-jailbroken iPhones via sideloading. Shortly after this announcement was made, Apple made the decision not to allow f.lux on iPhones as sideloading violates the developer agreement. Not much has been said on the matter until recently, when Apple's Night Shift became a major focus in 9.3.
Night Shift is basically Apple’s version of f.lux. Night Shift allows you to change the “temperature” of a display, giving you the option to use warmer colors than the traditional “blue light” that is emitted from displays all day long. Studies show that the blue light confuses our biological clock and cause us to stay awake longer than we really should. If you’ve ever sat in front of a computer or played on your phone at 8 P.M. and look up “just an hour” later to discover that it’s actually 2 in the morning, you can probably thank the blueish tones of your computer for that.
Night Shift, like f.lux, aims to fix that.
It’s an excellent concept in my opinion, and one that has helped me out greatly since discovering it. In fact, one of the first apps I was eager to download since returning to Android for Samsung’s Ultimate Test Drive was the Twilight app, which sort of does the same thing. (Another similar app, if you’re interested, is CF.lumen for Android.) I am thoroughly pleased that Apple is including this feature in iOS 9.3, and feel that this will be a great tool for anybody who has experienced insomnia and have looked to their phone to “lull” them to sleep, just to find that it doesn’t usually work out that way.
On the other hand, I also think that f.lux should be allowed to return to iOS as well. F.lux has been in the business for quite some time, and is a program that has been available to jailbroken iPhones for years. F.lux seems like they care greatly about improving sleep quality, citing that people who work the night shift have double the lifetime risk of developing cancer. It seems like Apple and f.lux could work together so that everybody wins; or, at the very least, Apple could open the concept up to developers so that companies like f.lux could develop more as well.
Either way, it seems like f.lux is being a good sport about it and is supportive of this move from Apple, despite being slighted back in November. I have to say I feel the same way, as this method of “warming the tones” on my gadgets has been an important tool in getting some extra z’s at night. I feel that a lot of people will be able to benefit from Night Shift when iOS 9.3 is officially released.
Readers, what do you think about Night Shift? Have you already used similar programs to “warm up” your screen to help you sleep at night? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!