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

Posted: , by Peter K.

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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.

iOS 9.3's Night Shift, explored: what is it, how to enable and manage it
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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posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:33 10

1. hafini_27 (Posts: 898; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)

I remembered there was a very popular app on the App store that does exactly the same thing but got pulled by Apple.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:39 2

4. GreenMan (Posts: 1803; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)

@hafini_27 Yeah, and there's was an App on on The App store that could detect THE BIG FOOT via GPS... Too bad, it got pulled by Apple.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:20 2

9. illusionmist (Posts: 157; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)

f.lux was never on the App Store. Some code was released for the sideloading capability on iOS 9, but they misused it (try to trick Xcode to load a compiled binary) so Apple told them to stop. The other truly open source ones (like GoodNight which I'm still using) are still alive and well.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 10:15 4

19. hafini_27 (Posts: 898; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)

It is a very popular app. I only remembered that Apple blocked it from App store. Did not know that was the reason.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:25 2

10. zeeBomb (Posts: 2296; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)

Damn...circadian rhythm...words I have never heard before and I feel like a scholar once ivlearned what it meant!

And the night mode slider? A.k.a dirty way to calibrate iPhone display

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:34 4

2. submar (Posts: 565; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)

try bluelight filter on android

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:35

3. Jimrod (Posts: 1445; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

Well it's a new feature at least, the last few iOS updates haven't had much going on - and this one means you can manually calibrate your screen to a colour temp you prefer without having to Jailbreak too. Can't complain.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:41 1

12. Unordinary (unregistered)

Especially since it's a "." update and not iOS 10,11,12, etc.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:48 8

5. hortizano (Posts: 294; Member since: 22 May 2013)

f.lux didn't violate any regulation.. they just grabbed the idea and dumped them.. as Apple always do.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:54 2

17. ibend (Posts: 6633; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)

just like when they block Google Maps, and release Apple Map (which is a huge failure, lol)

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 20:30 1

27. AlikMalix (unregistered)

When did Apple Block anything from Google, especially maps? They had to remove it from native list of apps when license expired between Apple and Google (same for YouTube) because Google wanted to charge iOS users for step by step directions. If I remember correctly Apple had to come up with it's own maps in like 2 months...

Google got greedy, and you're blaming apple for "blocking" Google maps? are you serious?

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 22:31 1

35. AlikMalix (unregistered)

f.lux used a non Apple's XCode - that's a security problem...

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:56 7

6. jove39 (Posts: 1967; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

CM12 had this feature for over a year now.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:42 9

13. Wiencon (Posts: 2019; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)

f.lux had it for 7 years now

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:43 1

14. Unordinary (unregistered)

Ive had this on my previous iPhones for yearS. Before F.lux, there was Eyeluv or or whatever it was called 6 years ago.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 08:58 1

7. TyrionLannister (unregistered)

So the night shift on bluest has more accurate whites than the default ones!

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:12 1

8. kane74 (Posts: 44; Member since: 24 Jan 2014)

Screen Filter on Android.

There were some apps which did that already with a jailbroken IOS device

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:40 1

11. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)

I use Twilight on Android

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:47 4

15. twens (Posts: 1054; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)

Yet another old feature that tech sites will hype the s**t out of just because it's on iPhones. Every jail breaker knows this has been around for years. There are countless of endless features that can be found in Cydia and touchwiz but they don't get hyped. Once it lands on iOS it gets mentioned. This behavior pisses me off.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 09:51 7

16. Jimrod (Posts: 1445; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

You're the idiot who clicked on the iOS article you hate to see so much of.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 11:59 4

23. twens (Posts: 1054; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)

You're just butt hurt jumping to apples rescue.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 12:12 1

24. Jimrod (Posts: 1445; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

No, I called you an idiot. You click on articles featuring something you hate so you can get all hurt and emotional. Where did I jump to Apple's rescue? Oh that's right, in your tiny little mind... Oh, what's that on your shoulder? Ahh, an enormous chip, I can't seem to get it off... :\

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 20:08 1

26. submar (Posts: 565; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)


posted on 14 Jan 2016, 22:26

34. Jimrod (Posts: 1445; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

Amazing comeback.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 20:39 2

28. AlikMalix (unregistered)

Twins because 95% or more do not jailbreak (including me) nor heard of apps like f.lux until now. Apple sees a beneficial feature that all users should have - so it adds it to the OS - why does that piss you off? You should be pissed off that your favorite ___________ manufacturer doesnt properly let public understand it's features or make them work properly - that their implementations arent impactful enough to make the headline. Whatever the reason - even if it's just tech sites that favor Apple's version - it's not their fault, but their FULL RIGHT to publish whatever they deem worthy.

Sorry, dude, but unless it's Apple - it ain't interesting... Wait! I know, you should start a popular tech website and outline all the features of Samsung, so the public can understand them and why they're needed...

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 20:59 1

30. Slowpoke (Posts: 18; Member since: 30 Sep 2015)

twens, while Jimrod has a point that you did click a hype article so that Apple would have free advertising, I agree with your point whole heartedly. Apple didn't invent this feature and stole it from many hard working programmers who deserved to make money from it. Like the built in flashlight feature. I miss using an app that would pop up an advertisement blocking the on/off switch right when I wanted to turn on the lite. It was pure brilliance. Now that app gets hardly any business.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 21:56

32. AlikMalix (unregistered)

LoL... I love this post... but everyone is right, Apple didnt invent this feature nor did they research the whole eye rhythm thingy (nor did f.lux or others)... so lets give the biologists credit while we're at it... Apple as far as I've seen isnt taking credit as an innovator of this (the haters are labeling AGAIN as if apple is taking credit for this innovation - non of which is true)... Apple just sees this as a must have feature and added to OS level - why are people so angry at apple for this?

I bet even Apple iOS engineers are sitting there going "dang, Mike, I had no idea people gonna be so hyped about this niteshift thing!!"... lol

posted on 21 Jan 2016, 16:23

36. stormychel (Posts: 1; Member since: 21 Jan 2016)

Because it's the only OS that matters. Deal with it.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 10:14 2

18. adecvat (Posts: 316; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

Cool feature. Unreachable for Samsung amoled devices that all have flickering display - r.i.p. your eyes.

posted on 14 Jan 2016, 10:42

20. Awaragardiyan (unregistered)

i remember xiaomi added a similar feature in miui in oct 15. it even has apps filter.

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