With so much time spent on phones, it can be easy to forget that w’ere staring at screens, and screens with a white that actually has a lot of blue in it. The problem is this isn’t good for our eyes, but fortunately, there’s an app for that.
Remember when your parents told you not to sit so close to the screen? These days, the screens are in our hands and we’re sitting closer to the screens than before, since we can bring them up to our faces and stare into the digital infinite abyss that is the mobile, tablet, and portable computer revolution.
But there’s a catch: while it’s great to have this access to information with us at all times, it isn’t necessarily healthy to look at the screens displaying it.
There are many reasons why this is the case, and they range from pixel clarity to room brightness and colour versus screen brightness and colour, but one thing that can at least help out is the reduction in blue light emitted by a screen.
It’s one of those things you may not be aware of, and that’s the idea that the LED-backlit screen on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, and pretty much anything else that is a popular electronic with an LED-based screen actually emits blue light as it sends out white and all those other colours you normally see.
In fact, unless you’re only working with darkened imagery, there’s a good chance that you’re seeing a lot more blue than you realise, and this might even impact your sleeping habits, with research from Harvard last year declaring that blue light might be responsible for sleep related problems and a reduction of the hormone responsible for sleep regeneration, Melatonin, which can lead to other issues.
With much of this extra blue light we’re seeing coming from devices that throw it our way — devices we depend on for our regular day to day — the solution might come from an app designed to cast a different light, so to speak.
The app in question is called “Twilight”, and it’s a screen changing app that will shift the colour and tone of the smartphone and tablet display as the day gradually makes its way into night, adding red or orange into the white LED colour spectrum to allow your body to look past the blue light and continue producing Melatonin, all in an effort to keep you going to sleep at a regular time, among other things.
Setting up the app is easy, with a colour temperature required — do you prefer it red or yellow or orange — as well as an intensity level and if you want the screen trimmed.
From there, you just work out when you want Twilight to operate. It could work all the time to try and give your eyes a leave from the blue light, and it might go off on an alarm. Or, if you want to match it to the real world, you can match it to when the sun goes down, which will update on a regular basis and change the colour based on sunset and sunrise times.
On the free Twilight, up to two profiles can be made, meaning you can trigger the app at certain times or have it do different things, such as modify the colour spectrum so that your screen goes into a more “energising” state in daylight with more light blue in the colour and back to that slight red tinge when night settles in.
So does it work?
That’s a question we’re not necessarily sure if we’re suited to answer. Testing it a few months ago on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 and again recently on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, we haven’t felt like it makes a tremendous impact on our viewing, though with how long this journalist has spent looking at screens and how odd his sleeping patterns are to begin with, it may not make a dent.
Android doesn’t offer something like Night Shift natively — at least not yet — and so Twilight and its free app can deliver the same concept, which means you can try it, decide whether it’s worth your time, and either keep it and continue on or ditch it and move onto something else.
A “pro” version that costs a couple of bucks can also be found (technically just an unlock key, but it will still cost you a $2) with the main differences being you can define more than two profiles, transition times can be more gradual, and any features Twilight plans to roll out will come to those who have shelled out money faster than those relying on the freebie.
That being said, we’re not sure if everyone needs to pay for this, as Twilight will literally be one of those concepts where you can see if it works — where you can see if it helps you, and if there’s any benefit whatsoever — for a week or two.
Even if Twilight doesn’t help you sleep, its ability to change the hue of the screen could keep you a little more alert, which is a super handy feature. If the idea of light as a motivator has you trying to work out whether WiFi lightbulbs are worth the investment, pricey as they are, Twilight’s colour spectrum choices of “relaxing” versus “energising” could give you an idea as to what the colours do with modern WiFi lightbulbs.
As for usefulness as an app, that’s something only you will be able to judge, but if you’ve ever wondered if it was a good idea to spend so much time staring at a screen and wonder if it’s affecting your sleep, Twilight is definitely worth checking out.