by Jim Lynch

Should Apple allow f.lux in iOS?

Dec 11, 2015

Apple customers launch petition to force the company to allow f.lux on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Will the company change its mind about f.lux?

One of the worst things about using a computer or mobile device at night is how bluelight can screw up your sleep patterns and possibly affect your health in a bad way. f.lux is an app for OS X that changes the color of your Mac’s screen to reduce or eliminate the bluelight that is fine during the day but bad for users at night.

Currently f.lux is not available in the iOS app store, though some users have installed it by jailbreaking their devices. But not everybody wants to deal with the headaches of jailbreaking their iOS devices. So some folks have started a petition to force Apple to allow f.lux in the iOS app store.

Heres what the petition to allow f.lux says:

What is f.lux?: f.lux is a program for Mac, PC, and jailbroken iPhone and iPad users, that warms the color of the devices backlight to reduce or eliminate the amount the bluelight the LEDs give off. Bluelight has been shown to keep you up at night, cause cancers, and reduce health. f.lux fixes that.

F.lux was released for Mac 6 years ago in 2009, and for jailbroken users since 2011. And is still not available for non-jailbroken IOS devices. On November, 12, 2015, f.lux was briefly available to the public via sideloading in Xcode, but the next day it was removed by Apple because it violated the Xcode guidelines.

More at iPetitions

As I write this post, the petition has 3558 signatures and more than 1337 comments. So it’s off to a pretty good start. But it remains to be seen if Apple will pay any mind to it. I give the folks who started the petition much credit for trying though, hopefully it will get Apple’s attention.

I want f.lux for my iPad and iPhone too

I do not know if the petition will change Apple’s bad attitude toward f.lux, but I definitely want it on my iOS devices. I run f.lux on all of my Macs, and it makes a big difference when I use them at night. I watch TV shows and movies on the 27-inch iMac in the living room at night, and f.lux makes it much easier on my eyes.

screen shot 2015 12 10 at 10.42.26 am

The f.lux preferences menu in the OS X version that I run on my 5K iMac.

Unfortunately, I cannot run f.lux on my iPad or iPhone, thanks to Apple refusing to allow it in the iOS app store. And, like so many others, I would like that to change ASAP. The bluelight emitted by my iPad and iPhone is noticeably irritating to me at night compared to the screens on my Macs that run f.lux.

Apple really needs to deal with this issue as quickly as possible. If the company does not want to allow f.lux then it should offer its own version in an iOS update. There’s no real, viable excuse I can find for Apple not doing this. The company certainly has the programming resources to integrate something like f.lux into iOS. And yet nothing has been done about this.

Many of Apple’s customers also want f.lux for iOS

I’m certainly not the only one that wants f.lux for iOS, the topic came up in a recent thread on the Apple subreddit and here’s what some redditors had to say about it:

Drfrogsplat: ”I reckon the best bet would be to try to convince them to implement the feature at the OS-level, using a science/evidence-based argument (they’re all into health/physical activity, and sleep deprivation is a big problem for both mental & physical health, so kind of fits…).”

JimVanDeventer: ”They built Shazam into the OS so F.lux might have a chance.”

Freediverx01: ”…this is a dumb idea to begin with. Apple goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure the color accuracy of their displays. It makes no sense to screw up color accuracy to address an alleged health concern that is poorly supported by peer-reviewed research.”

Deliciousburritos: ”I don’t use flux for health reasons about blue light or whatever. I use it because it is genuinely easier on the eyes when using a device in the evening or at night. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of flux users are in the same boat.”

Drfrogsplat: ”Sometimes I want colour accuracy, like when I’m editing photos/video, reading about photography, etc… but if I’m just reading text (especially on a white background), I’d much prefer a less painful display at night. If there’s an easy switch, or per-app settings, you can get both without too much hassle.

It’s not my area of research, but I don’t have any good reason to doubt the light sensitivity research (if you have specific critiques of it or counter evidence I’d be very keen to learn more). Otherwise it certainly seems easier on the eyes, and is definitely better for retaining some “night-vision” in the dark.”

s2514: ”For people that like f.lux I highly recommend buying a pair of blue light filtering glasses. They are like 5 bucks on amazon and they filter light from all sources including things like TV which doesn’t have f.lux.”

BabiesOvernight: ”It’ll be a stock feature in a future iOS version that they’ll call “revolutionary” and “life changing” and they’ll pretend/make people think they invented it, kinda like when they put the android style Notification Center in iOS 5.”

Filippo333: ”I hate how Apple can remove anything from their App store without reason or a moment’s notice. Malware is one thing but doing this to legitimate apps is just anti-competitive and unfair on not only the developers but users.”

More at Reddit

Will Apple allow f.lux into the iOS app store?

As you can tell from the comments, there’s quite a bit of interest in f.lux for iOS. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Apple to allow it into the iOS app store. It’s much more likely that the company might build it’s own version of f.lux.

I certainly hope they do, but Apple’s foot-dragging on this illustrates the difference between the openness of OS X, and the closed nature of iOS. In OS X you are not limited to Apple’s app store, so things like f.lux are available. But in iOS you are stuck with whatever Apple allows you to install on your device.

Let’s hope Apple either changes its mind about f.lux or comes out quickly with its own version. It can’t happen soon enough.

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