If you’ve ever used f.lux or any application like it, you may already know what this article is going to be covering. If you don’t, let me take a moment to explain something about the kind of light emitted by just about every display you use and the effect that light has on you.
The strongest light emitted by your display isn’t necessarily a white light. Instead, that light is more of an extremely bright blue which strains your eyes and also disrupts your sleeping patterns, enabling long nights spent as an insomniac in front of a computer.
Basically, f.lux and other apps like it, like the ones we’ll be covering in this article, effectively reduce eyestrain and help you sleep. Before we get into that, though, let’s talk a bit about how these programs work.
How They Work
Essentially, these applications work to reduce the blue light hitting your eyes by using a color filter that adjusts over the course of the day. During the daytime your screen will look normal, as you move on into the late afternoon and night, though, your screen will gradually take on a warmer color that’s more reminiscent of the paper of an old book than your usual bright white monitor.
This color shift reduces your eyestrain since you’re not constantly looking at superbright light and helps you fall asleep since blue light isn’t disrupting you. Using these programs comes with an unfortunate downside, however; watching movies and videos, as well as viewing pictures and playing video games, will result in your colors being inaccurate. If you do those things often you’ll want to periodically disable these programs if color accuracy is important to you.
Windows, Mac and Linux: f.lux
f.lux is the most popular of the bunch, and for good reason. In addition to having great support for the main desktop platforms, there are also beta/developer versions available for mobile devices. (I wouldn’t recommend those.)
As the first one to popularize this concept, f.lux is the one that the others take the most from. Using f.lux’s options, you can adjust your screen tint to fit with your geographical location (so it’s accurate to the sun in your location) and adjust other settings as well, including the ability to toggle it off for an hour.
There are a few other f.lux-like apps on Android but none quite as good as Twilight.
Twilight is the best f.lux alternative for Android, and it shows. The only downside is that as opposed to f.lux’s more natural orangey filter, Twilight has a strong red tint that’s really hard to miss.
Also, unlike f.lux, Twilight locks some features behind a paywalled Pro version. It only costs a few bucks, but compared to the full-featured free desktop alternative, it does leave a little to be desired.
iOS: Night Shift
While f.lux alternative apps do exist on iOS, they all require you to jailbreak your iPhone and void your warranty. With the latest versions of iOS, Apple instead opted to allow its users to enjoy the benefits of apps like f.lux as a native operating system feature. No paywall, no headaches. It’s just integrated right into the OS, Apple-style.
f.lux was a major step forward for user comfort and health applications, and once it’s reached the point where even a company as big as Apple is integrating its features into their OS, it’s time to take notice.
If you aren’t already using f.lux or an app like it, try it out! I highly recommend it, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping and spend long hours at the computer.