There are apps that you simply can’t live without. A top contender of mine is f.lux. I truly and honestly don’t want to miss it on any operating system I use.
While I was on the iOS 9 beta, the thought to jailbreak again crossed my mind. The logic behind this idea was that being in a beta, I’m already used to reboots1 — something I always associate with a Jailbreak is seeing the Apple logo pop-up sporadically signifying the OS is currently being loaded.
F.lux was the reason for my last Jailbreak. The app is so good that the tagline on the website (“software to make your life better”) and the domain “justgetflux.com” is a more than appropriate choice.
Alternating the screen temperature is something that Apple don’tin the App Store. It is only possible using system level integrations, so Cydia was the only alternative for a long time to gain access to apps and tweaks that modify iOS (including f.lux). Then came sideloading.
Sideloading vs. Jailbreak
In June 2015 sideloading was introduced with the newly released Xcode 7 beta. I knew it wasn’t going to be a replacement for a Jailbreak since sideloaded apps still basically live in sandbox. To no surpise, even today Cydia apps have the upper hand when it comes to customizability, making nifty tweaks possible via
MobileSubstrate Cydia Substrate. It’s Saurik’s way “to provide run-time patches (‘Cydia Substrate extensions’) to system functions” which allows developers deep inter-app communication, adding shortcuts to the home button and all the other good stuff that warms the cold heart of jailbreakers around the world.
Still, sideloading to me is a game changer. I always wished for Apple to be more liberal and give iOS users more freedom and power. It’s not a system level free pass to loosen all the nuts and bolts that hold your OS together, but, for someone like me who just doesn’t need all that jailbreaking brings to the table, this is as good as gets. Having access to a variety of apps that will never be in the app store is great.
Though, there is one thing to consider: use your thinky-think thing before downloading unknown code to your most personal device2.
DISCLAIMER: Don’t use software from developers you don’t trust. As a last resort if you desperately want to use an app, have a friend look at the source code or ask Twitter/Reddit/your mom.
None of the above applies to the guys from f.lux. I vouch for them and would even donate my third eyeball to their cause since they took so excellent care of my other two.
The possible downside I see is that not many developers will adapt sideloading. My best guess is that Apple mainly released it for the corporate world. Plus, as a developer, you basically have open source your code. This is a serious obstacle if you intend to make some profit on your app or just want to keep your code private.
Road to F.lux
Well, after thinking about a Jailbreak and finding out that there is none available for the iOS version I ran at that time, I dismissed the idea with a shrug of my shoulders.
As cool as sideloading is, I forgot about it until recently. Ten days ago I head out to hunt down some apps to install. I got giddy with excitement as I found out about Thomas Finch’s (@tomf64) GammaThingy. Finch set out to write a f.lux clone and approached it in the best manner possible3 – not as others did.
Since I downloaded and enjoyed GammaThingy, I enjoyed every
day night with my iPhone. For the purpose of this article about GammaThingy I also contacted the guys from f.lux. I was curious to find what kept them from releasing f.lux as a sideloading app.
Well, they haven’t answered my email, but my prayers. You can go ahead and download their app now.
Note: you don’t need an $99 Apple Developer account. Just link your Apple ID (or create a new one) in the Apple Developer Member Center.
All-in-all, I find sideloading less cumbersome than dealing with a Jailbreak.4 I always disliked having to stick with old iOS version with possible security flaws and got annoyed by the regular reboots. Sideloading is a great alternative and gives advanced users and corporations some control and power back.
The bottom line (for this post) is, if less eye strain and a better sleep is what you’re looking for, install f.lux. Don’t take my word for it, just check the research page on the f.lux website.
For those of you who have never been on an iOS beta… it’s kind of a thing. Whether your device automatically reboots or you have to do it yourself because of some lame bug you now got a brick made out of one piece of unicorn aluminum which is nothing more than a blinking paperweight. ↩
Nope, not that fashionable watch. For me it’s still the iPhone. I don’t own and can’t afford a wrist band which can tell me how often to stand up. ↩
Read the “Important Information” part on his GitHub. ↩
The guys from f.lux polished their source code and there are no obstacles when downloading it to your hardware. This isn’t always the case as I found out from sideloading other apps; and as someone who doesn’t live in Xcode it can be a bit of a pita to get around those. ↩