Creators of banned f.lux sleep improvement app call on Apple to open up Night Shift, claim they are the "original innovators"


A feature spotlight in the upcoming iOS 9.3 release is the addition of Night Shift, a system service designed to let your iPhone or iPad adjust its screen color temperature in accordance with the natural "circadian rhythm". Its main accomplishment is reducing the emissions of blue light, which tends to mess with melatonin production and prevent you from having a good night's sleep. It also makes the screen color temperature match that of your ambient lighting, greatly reducing eye strain.

Reiterating Apple's commitment to health and providing a genuinely useful bit of functionality to iOS users, Night Shift is a welcome addition for sure, but it's no secret that it's not entirely innovative. Applications such as Twilight, or stock alternatives built in some Android manufacturers' ROMs have provided similar facilities for a while, although we suspect Apple's solution will integrate deeper with the operating system.

In fact, that's of actual concern to the developers of a popular application that deals with the same problem. It's called f.lux and it launched way back in 2009. According to f.lux developer and co-founder Michael Herf, the app was the first to employ automatic display tuning with the goal of reducing light from the blue spectrum, which might give you a perspective on how long such algorithms have been in development. In addition to desktop platforms, f.lux was present on iOS as well, until Apple took it down from the App Store for using private application programming interfaces.

The introduction of Night Shift prompted Herf and the f.lux team to issue an open letter, calling on Apple to allow for the release of f.lux on iOS and open up access to the underlying algorithms. It names Night Shift as a "display of commitment" by Apple towards resolving the problems caused by exposure to bright light at the wrong times (ranging from sleep-related problems to risking cancer), and "an important first step" towards using technology to improve sleep. Indeed, Apple opening up Night Shift for developers and scientists to take advantage of would make for a significant contribution to ongoing sleep and chronobiology research, especially given how many people use iOS out there.

However, we can't predict whether Apple will do the noble thing, or do what it's been known to do in the past. Approximately two months after banning f.lux, Cupertino introduced Night Shift, which duplicates its essential functionality. History remembers how Watson, a Mac OS X app for internet and local search, effectively "died" after Apple introduced Sherlock, an app that mirrored its functionality and feature set (and is a precursor to Spotlight search). The incident coined the phrase "Sherlocking", which became synonymous with Apple's practice of introducing free alternatives, bundled with its operating systems, to competing software products. Knowing Apple, f.lux will most likely go down as another app that got "Sherlocked".

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59 Comments

1. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I wonder how many people know that Apple restricted this feature to 64bit only devices ^^ It clearly shows that Apple sees customers as complete idiots

3. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Why does that mean Apple see customers as idiots? New firmware for newer devices has new features shocker. Same as every operating system provider/manufacturer out there. I love how manufacturers using Android see their customers as complete idiots by not even offering them the latest OS in many cases.

5. seblak

Posts: 14; Member since: Oct 07, 2015

Those who thinked that their iPhone 4s will be faster with iOS 9 were the real idiots and because apple thinks so.Your comment makes you look like an idiot as well

7. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

I don't even know where to begin with that.

24. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

My point is that this feature could easily be implemented on older devices, f.lux works on iP 3G, but I'm sure that if someone asks Apple why they ditched night shift on 4s/5 they would say: too old hardware or, displays are not able to filter blue light ir some s.it like that

25. adrewfryman

Posts: 44; Member since: Aug 09, 2014

your just straight up wrong. my ipad 2 and iphone 4s had a remarkable performance increase from ios 7 to ios 8 and to ios 9. it would turn on faster it took less time to open and load apps. and crashing went down a lot

39. AlikMalix unregistered

My 2012 iPad 3 is doing remarkable in iOS 9.

10. TBomb

Posts: 1450; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

A lot goes into code development to upgrade a device from Android version to Android version. There are several things that are considered and a lot of times the carriers can delay, if not cancel, these updates. When we choose Android we are aware that we may not get the latest version on our phone depending on how old the model is and carrier we are using. We weigh the pros and cons of each OS and we are content with our decision. If we really have that big of an issue with it, we'll look to Apple but it clearly must not be that big of a deal if we aren't switching.

12. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

But that's my point, Wiencon is saying Apple clearly sees their customers as idiots because this is only on 64 bit - so what? Apple users know they won't get all the latest features when a new iOS comes out - just as you say Android users do. It's a standard strategy used by pretty much every company in the world who offer updates, regardless of the capability of older devices to use the particular features there are always things only available to the newer devices. Apple users don't have to pay anything for the update and don't have to install it if they don't want to.

15. TBomb

Posts: 1450; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Well I'm not trying to start a fight with this comment right here, but I think the frustration occurs when people start talking about that F-word. Android gets the rep of having a whole slew of versions of Android still running in the public, but iOS does too if you consider that fact that older devices get updated, but they're missing features. The only thing that doesn't make Apple have the F-word is the fact that version # is the same, but the versions aren't the same because all the new features aren't in it. Agree with that (for arguments sake right now) and you can say that Apple is pulling the wool over everyone's eyes by bringing up the F-word and using this argument to win people over. Could be part of the reason why people say iSheep (the play on words from wool) and then "idiots" just starts with an I like the devices so there. Do I think you guys are idiots? No. Apple's products are fine. I just don't like their business ethics and don't want to support them at all.

23. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

In android it's the same thing, if not worse. I have a friend using a Samsung Galaxy S5 and back when he had his phone on Kit Kat (4.4), his OS looked nice and clean but as soon as he installed Android Lollipop (after months of waiting) his S5 surprisingly became ugly!! Let me clarify, with android L, he was promised design improvements and other changes, sure he did get some changes and features but the design actually became worse than before, what he was promised he did not get. For example, while using multitasking on 4.4, he was able to see the colored background but with L, the multitasking no longer included a colored background, it was removed with a standard black background instead. The phone immediately felt old when it was supposed to feel newer instead. On the other hand, the S6 with android L looked so nice and multitasking included a colored background like usual. So the S5 did not even get close to what the S6 got with android L despite being only one year old!! Conclusion: sure with iPhones you miss on some feauture but at least you don't get feautures removed just like that. On top of that, it takes about 2 and a half years to 3 years to really start seeing "missing feautures" or "possible performance" decreases. With android, it can take only one year. Note: I used the example of Samsung updates here but it does not mean that other OMEs are so bad with updates, for example HTC and Sony and some others are know to provide better and more fair updates than Samsung is.

26. TBomb

Posts: 1450; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I wasn't saying Android is perfect.. I was commenting back to Jimrod. I was explaining why the original comment used the word idiot. As I said, there is a lot more that goes into Android updates than an iOS update due to the amount of OEMs, the carriers having access to stall them and everything else involved. Given that, it is expected that it is not as "clean" as iOS which has only 1 company to worry about.

45. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

Fair enough, it is true that the whole android situation and OEM and the whole approval process for updates in android is way more complicated than what Apple has to go through. Apple has it nice and easy because they have thing under their control and they can act quicker with less obstacles in their way compared to android, which is also one of the reason some people choose apple over android. Then again history could had been different if Google had taken the smart path and had used android to focus on their own phones (this way they would focus both on software and hardware like Apple). To bad that did not happen instead, Google created this mess and they should be the ones to put more effort to fix it!

40. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

So because the background of multitasking isn't as your friend expected, he didn't get what he was promised? Did they say he would get that specific background feature? I'm pretty sure not. So your entire input can be looked upon as one big pile of horse s**t.....

43. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

Thing is, that ain't even a feauture: it's a basic design element that nearly all the phones in the world have. Even an iPhone 4 or 4S with iOS 7, iOS 8, 9, etc has colors in the background, same for an Xperia Z1 with android L, Z2, HTC One M7, etc have their wallpaper colours in the background while multitasking is used. It's a basic design element, and for Samsung to choose to remove something so simple when lolipop was meant to improve the design is just stupid! So of course my friend did not get what he was promised, the design was supposed to be improved in overall and he got the opposite of that because Samsung wants you to go buy an S6 right now! So next time read carefully before you openly consider other's stories as a pile of horse s***

50. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Exactly design, so do you really think they can make everyone happy with their design? If so, then I feel sad for you. I'm pretty Sure there are iphone users that are not pleased when apple releases some of their "best" new ideas.....So I still think your friends problem is a pile of horse s**t.

60. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

It appears that you do not comprehend a thing that I comment because your replies are the real pile of horse s***t! I could had mentionted much more about the S5, such as the nice iOS 7 style animations that they did not include in Lolipop (you need an S6 for that) and nicer desing in setting, etc. In any case, I said enough, I won't argue here because your clearly a Samsung fanboy who got offended by this story because Samsung is in it:D Besides, ultimately it's Samsung problem for being unable to provide fair updates to its users.

58. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

But an apple product WILL have all the security updates and will most definitely work at it's full potential with the new version of software. The only features that are going to get left out will be hardware related ones.

16. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

And if the none 64-bit Apple devices (iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and 5C) were actuallyandroid devices, they would not even get an update and the customers would be treated as dumbdroids:D

33. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Nonetheless you can still run most aps on android 2.x or 4.x and upwards. Therefore the necessity to upgrade or ruin that 32-bit Galaxy S5 with a daft 64-bit fugly lolipop is virtually non-excistent. While apple locks out users who do not upgrade. Finding aps for older iphones is a nightmare and since you can't sideload them from a computer... Oh dear.

31. engineer-1701d unregistered

its apple at its best look for an app or feature thats doing well stop it on ios make the same thing change the name and put it as the new feature of ios. then take anyone to court that says it was stolen

2. shiftt

Posts: 333; Member since: May 03, 2015

GET 'EM! Apple is pathetic man.. Like seriously?

4. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Yup, if Apple remove a developer's app from the App Store only because they're putting that functionality in iOS they should at least compensate the developer.

14. bucky

Posts: 3781; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

im an apple fan and i agree. A form of this does happen with Android as well unfortunately when i would see feature included in custom roms only to show up on a locked bootloader android device in 6 month too-it always pissed me off.

47. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Its always interesting to read how an apple fan would defend their fandom, giving creative reasons to justify Apple bad behaviour when none is needed. Do you see any custom roms developer issuing an open letter to vent their helplessness and fustration? Nope. I rest my case.

53. tedkord

Posts: 17346; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That's nowhere near comparable. Android doesn't ban the app.

28. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

That would be the right thing to do but I doubt Apple will do anything at all. Then again, the creators from f.flux did not even patent their feature, so in other words, they no longer have a chance of winning against Apple.

46. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Small time developer has no mean of patenting. The cost is about one million dollars per patent. Plus you will need money to sue as well. The law protect those whom could afford it. Tough luck for the rest of us.

6. vuyonc

Posts: 1090; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

>app needs certain API to work properly on OS >said API doesn't exist on OS >app gets kicked out off store for innovating using private APIs >said API now exists in OS natively >forgets about original app >welcome to the walled garden

8. der_damo

Posts: 213; Member since: Sep 16, 2014

wallet or walled garden :p

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