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Apple Pulls 'FlexBright', Says iOS Apps That Adjust Display Temperature Aren't Allowed

Earlier this week, we shared a blue-light reduction app called FlexBright, which worked similarly to Apple's own Night Shift mode. Apple initially approved the app, which was able to adjust the screen temperature for the entire iPhone, but after it garnered attention following our post, Apple pulled it from the App Store.

FlexBright developer Sam Al-Jamal told MacRumors he had worked with Apple through several app rejections to get FlexBright into the App Store and that no private APIs were in use, something that was seemingly confirmed by the app's approval, but further review from Apple led to FlexBright's removal. Al-Jamal has shared Apple's explanation with MacRumors following an "exhausting discussion" with the Cupertino company. "The bottomline is [Apple] won't allow apps to change screen colors," he said.

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The FlexBright app adjusted the temperature of the screen to make it more yellow, like Night Shift in iOS 9.3

Al-Jamal was given two technical reasons behind FlexBright's removal from the App Store. First, the app was using custom-created classes based on non-public APIs.
I recreated three classes based on non-public APIs. Even though these are custom classes that I created, but essentially they're using the same methods as in their non-public APIs.
Second, the app was using silent audio to keep FlexBright running in the background, a frowned-upon tactic that can result in battery drain. Late last year, the Facebook app for iOS was using excessive battery life, something caused in part by a silent audio component.

FlexBright masked the silent audio with a music player to "justify the background music activity," something that Apple approved twice even though the music playing function doesn't appear to work.
We labeled it as a new feature to "rest/close your eyes for few minutes and listen to some music". Now Apple says this is not the intended purpose of the app and they won't allow this approach.
Apple asked Al-Jamal to remove the blue light filter to get FlexBright back on the App Store, but he declined so that users who have already purchased the app can keep the feature. "For all intended purposes, FlexBright is dead," he said. He does plan to go on to make a new app that will detect eye fatigue based on screen brightness and time spent on an iOS device.

The developer behind FlexBright was using some questionable features to get the app to function, but its ability to slip past the App Store review process even through multiple rejections again puts a spotlight on Apple's inconsistencies and failures when it comes to reviewing apps. MacStories recently shared an in-depth look at the App Store review process, highlighting the problems and frustrations developers face, which rightly points out that the current review process is "harming the quality of apps on the App Store."

Tag: App Store


Top Rated Comments

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11 weeks ago
So:

- Basically using private APIs, even though not directly.
- Claiming your app does one thing so that it can run in the background indefinitely, but it actually does something else.

Yep, no surprise this got pulled.
Rating: 36 Votes
11 weeks ago
Apple is so full of itself when it does stuff like this. I hate to say this but I'm really glad that Microsoft is finally giving them a run for their money in the desktop and laptop space. Now with something like the Galaxy S7 from Samsung which has force touch and animated photos. Honestly Apple needs to mellow out a bit and let their app ecosystem flourish.

- Clarification - Force touch did not make it into the S7 or S7 Edge, though it is being tested for use in a future handset from Samsung.
Rating: 19 Votes
11 weeks ago
LOL, typical Apple.
Rating: 17 Votes
11 weeks ago
i have no problem with this. i can only imagine the mess it would cause with the average user dealing with third party apps and the troubleshooting nightmare it would cause, especially on the eve of the feature being implemented in iOS 9.3...

imagine the average user complaining that their pictures look yellow or different and associating it with the camera or their screen and apple not being able to assume in any measure the fault of any one given app
Rating: 16 Votes
11 weeks ago
So why was it approved in the first place?
Rating: 9 Votes
11 weeks ago

Apple is so full of itself when it does stuff like this.

You think using private APIs is ok? You think using silent audio to keep your app running is ok?
Rating: 9 Votes
11 weeks ago

Apple is so full of itself when it does stuff like this. I hate to say this but I'm really glad that Microsoft is finally giving them a run for their money in the desktop and laptop space. Now with something like the Galaxy S7 from Samsung which has force touch and animated photos. Honestly Apple needs to mellow out a bit and let their app ecosystem flourish.



You sure about this? None of the reviews mentioned it.
Rating: 7 Votes
11 weeks ago


Android users are FAR more tech savvy. That's not even debatable. But the good thing is, Android is just as simple to use for noobs as iOS. Both my parents who are tech illiterate are able to get around their Android phones just fine.


This SUPER ignorant (& patently false) statement is so offensive, it honestly reminded me of this classic SNL skit:
[MEDIA=youtube]N8QEIaATPis[/MEDIA]
*sigh*
It also calls to mind all the people that come in to my former workplace (cellphone / PC repairs) & gush about how their grandchildren know SO much about "all this technology", but they just don't understand it the way their grandkids do... then the kid walks in & he's a typical teenager; he couldn't code an app to save his life, couldn't walk you through the steps of the boot up process, couldn't even tell you the html for centering an image, nothing- ZERO "tech" skills or tech knowledge. Granny and Grampy's genuine ignorance of tech as a whole trick them into thinking junior is a genius because he can apply a filter in Snapchat. They can't recognize that he has an only slightly different level of tech ignorance. It's sad and sickening to me.
Similarly, shills or liars (or just those that grossly misunderstand reality... that's the one I'm going to assume you are), purport the garbage you just said- basically that, if someone can rearrange icons on an Android screen & install a launcher; they are soooo "tech savvy". Lol, you guys are all the same- pretending like Android users are all compiling all their own custom ROMs & stuff. It's embarrassing. NONE of your facts add up even remotely.
For example: in your above quote line one says Android users are way tech savvy.... then IMMEDIATELY negated by the fact that you say your tech illiterate parents are Android users. Lol. Way to argue both sides (accidentally?? I hope...).
Further... we know that the MAJORITY of smart phones sold are Android, soooooo for what you said to be true- the MAJORITY of the population would have to be tech savvy. I mean, you know that's not true, right? Right??!!
Or what about the fact that one of the reasons Android phones sell so much more are the fact that there are more than three price points?? So they are purchased even by the elderly that otherwise may not spend money on a smartphone, or the very young... that have no money whatsoever & must take whatever mom and dad are willing to buy (the cheapest option), & simply the very poor.
Do you posit that all of the elderly & the very young & the very poor also just happen to be "tech savvy"??
Lol... you're a riot!
Seriously. Stay away from ridiculous statements like the above quoted one.
You may as well have said something like "all left handed people use Blackberry"... it would have been just as preposterous & equally simple to negate with logic, anecdotal evidence, and sheer fact.
Rating: 7 Votes
11 weeks ago
I installed this yesterday. While it does work (at least it globally changes the screen temperature), looking at the Battery usage in settings, it's taken 53%, listed as "Background Activity".

Probably best to wait for NightShift but I don't like the fact that Apple have stopped Low Power Mode when NightShift enabled. I suppose they were trying for a work-around and this isn't it.
Rating: 6 Votes
11 weeks ago
And this sort of thing is an example of why I went to Android again.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a hater comment, they're both great. But if you want to hack around with third party system tweaks, iOS ain't the place to be. I figured when the story of this being approved came up it'd have been a mistake.
Rating: 5 Votes

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