iOS 9.3 Night Shift & Flux

Posted by kdow on Jan 26, 2016 8:40:25 PM

I am short sighted. I mean physically, though some would argue mentally too. This is not genetic as far as I can tell. It’s something I’ve had for many years, and it’s not that severe. My prescription is somewhere around -1.2 in both eyes. Nothing too severe.

In fact, I kind of like it. I like the gentle blur in the distance that stops me from getting distracted by paying attention to distant events. It’s one downside is trying to see exactly what bus or train is coming down the road; but my eyesight has yet to fail me so badly that I’ve missed one!

I’m also a bit of a pseudo hipster. So I get to wear my hipster glasses (mykita, thanks for asking) regularly and with the kind of indignance you’d expect from a champion hipster barista.

My eyesight likely stems from many, many years of toiling away on computers. I’ve had my own dedicated laptop for two thirds of my entire life. Which, for those doing the math, means I was handed a laptop that I was using for my own use from the age of about 11. I was a very early adopter to the internet. Of course, being a teenager or young adult on the internet means spending hours on end playing games, reading, chatting on IRC and what-not without breaks. So it’s not a shock to anyone that I’m short sighted (again, physically — not mentally!).

But one thing has helped me a lot. In my job I’ve had to do long hours on a computer. Even worse, I’ve had to do a full shift at the office only to come home and eat dinner while staring at my laptop; doing work. And that’s before I kick back on my iPad to watch some Netflix (and chill), or play some video games.

Basically, nothing’s changed.

However, when a nifty little tool called Flux came out, it was a revelation to my eyes, senses and ability to sleep after prolonged, late usage of an electronic device with a bright screen.

What Flux does is effectively add a tungsten filter on the screen, with increasing intensity as the evening wears on. It works an absolute charm, and actually increases my productivity when I’m working early to chat to Australian colleagues, or working late in Dublin with American colleagues. It’s legitimately remarkable.

iOS has been bereft of such a feature for a while now; though Flux is a relatively recent marvel to a lot of users (myself included). There have been hacks and side-loading trickery to make Flux (and similar apps) work on iOS, but Apple don’t want to reveal their inner secrets and allow developers such low level access to the screen controls.

In iOS 9.3 (currently in beta, expected to ship in March by my guess), Apple will release a feature called Night Shift. This effectively sherlock’s Flux and includes the feature out of the box, by Apple. It’s one of those times I feel Apple could have bought the Flux team instead of simply stealing the idea, but such is life.

This means that currently my Mac(s), iPhone and iPad are all treating my eyes a lot better. And there’s noticeable patterns in my productivity that have been significantly boosted by this. Moreover, I’ve relied less on my glasses in early mornings or late evenings after using my devices. Again, it’s revelationary.

I’ve no huge crescendo or severity to report from this feature being brought to iOS. But all I’ve read on it are technical details and explanations of what it is or how it works, rather than why it’s good for individuals. So the above is basically my story of why Flux & Night Shift are important new features. They’re important for your eyes, your eye health and — for me at least — your productivity.