iOS 9.3's Night Shift, explored: what is it, how to enable and manage it


One of the highlights of the recently released iOS 9.3 is Night Shift, a new iOS feature that aims to reduce eyestrain and make it easy for you to fall asleep. This is a brand new feature for iOS, though the concept behind it isn't - various apps and programs that boast similar functionalities have been available on most platforms for a long time now, with one of the most popular ones being f.lux. For a brief time, it was also available on the iPhone, but Apple killed it off as it reportedly violated the company's Developer Program Agreement.

Night Shift aims to keep your organism in line with the 24-hour "circadian rhythm", which is crucial for your sleep patterns. Indeed, numerous studies have found that if you're subjecting yourself to bright blue light right before bed, you are messing up with the levels of melatonin in your body. Turns out melatonin is a pretty important hormone that regulates your sleep timing - it is tied with the circadian rhythm and the natural lighting conditions. 

Its synthesis in the human body usually accelerates once evening nears and lighting begins to dim down. Unfortunately, Blue light with a wavelength in the range between 460 and 480nm has been found to mess up your body's melatonin synthesis, and hence, with your sleep. Night Shift wants to be best buddies with your melatonin by greatly reducing the amount of blue hues your display emits. It does this by shifting the color temperature of the display towards the warmer end of the spectrum. 

Though Night Shift can be enabled manually at your will, users are allowed to leave iOS take care of it; if so, your current location and the time of day will be taken into account as to whether it should be turned on or off. The feature is similar to your device's brightness slider, allowing you to freely set up a preferable amount of blue light reduction. After getting hold of iOS 9.3 on one of our resident iOS devices (an iPhone 6 Plus), one thing led to another, and we found ourselves with a colorimeter in hand, measuring to what extent Night Shift re-adjusts the color temperature. 

Here's follow our findings. With Night Shift off, the color temperature of our iPhone 6 Plus stood at 7448 Kelvin. Enabling Night Shift and leaving it in its "cooler" position shifted the display's spectrum to 6395 K, while the warmest we could go was as low as 3026 K. Users are allowed to adjust the color temperature anywhere in-between. 

SettingColor temperature
Night Shift off7448K
Night Shift on, coolest setting6395K
Night Shift on, average setting5415K
Night Shift on, warmest setting3026K
*Disclaimer: As measured on our resident Apple iPhone 6 Plus; your results may vary.

All clear? Okay, let's see how one manages Night Shift - we are about to show you the ropes on how to enable, disable, and set it up! By the way, if you're rocking an Android device, we have a succinct selection of apps with similar functionality for your handset - check them out here.

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