Update: Well that was fast. F.lux’s developers have pulled the download link, saying Apple said the app was in volition of the iOS developer agreement.
When Apple combined their iOS and Mac developer programs a few months ago, the company also quietly dropped the requirement that you had to be a registered developer to load apps from Xcode to your iOS device.
While Apple’s intention may have been to remove the financial barrier for new app developers, a side effect is that now anyone can download an open-source iOS app and install it onto their device.
F.lux, the popular program that adjusts a computer screen’s color temperature in order to reduce eye strain during night use, has just taken advantage of this workaround by releasing an open-source iOS version of f.lux. Previously, you had to jailbreak your device in order to use the screen brightness software.
So why couldn’t f.lux’s developers just submit their app to the App Store?
Because automatically adjusting your iOS device’s screen temperature requires the app to constantly run in the background, as well as use private APIs…both of which are against App Store rules.
Apple’s stance makes sense, especially since private APIs have been known to do sneaky things like send users information back to developer’s servers. That being said, f.lux has been around for more than five years and is a pretty trusted open-source piece of software, especially within the developer community.
You can download the Xcode project from the app’s website, as well as view full instructions on how to load it onto your iDevice.
It’s definitely not as easy as downloading an app from the App Store (you still have to deal with Xcode’s ever-frustrating provisioning profiles), but at least it’s more kosher than jailbreaking, as far as Apple is concerned.