We recently discussed Night Shift, the new feature in iOS 9.3 that automatically lowers the color temperature of your iPhone or iPad screen at night to reduce eye strain and minimize the negative effects of bright lights on your sleep quality. While users can manually enable or disable Night Shift, or set a specific start and end time, Apple also included a handy option that automatically configures Night Shift based on sunset and sunrise. We quickly heard from several users, however, who reported that the sunset and sunrise option wasn’t available in their Night Shift options. Here’s a possible explanation and fix for this issue.
As you know, the exact times for sunset and sunrise vary throughout the year depending on the date and your geographic location. Your iPhone or iPad already knows the date, but in order to accurately determine sunset and sunrise times for each user, it must also know your current location, and thanks to Apple’s privacy controls in iOS, it’s possible for users to deny the operating system — and by extension features like Night Shift — access to this information.
While other factors may be at play for some users, it’s likely that the absence of the sunset and sunrise configuration option for most users with Night Shift-compatible iOS devices is due to disabled or misconfigured location services. To check if this is the case, head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and make sure that the Location Services option at the top of the screen is enabled. If it’s not, tap the toggle to enable Location Services and then head back to the Night Shift settings page (Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift). You should now be able automatically schedule Night Shift via a “Sunset to Sunrise” option.
Apple allows for quite granular control of Location Services in iOS, however, so if the feature was already enabled on your iDevice, it may be that the specific service required for Sunset to Sunrise Night Shift functionality — namely, Time Zone detection — is disabled. To fix this, head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services and make sure that the Setting Time Zone option is enabled.
Once enabled, return to the Night Shift settings and, as before, you should see a “Sunset to Sunrise” option for automatic scheduling.
For some users, the fact that Location Services were disabled on their iPhone or iPad may be a surprise — users can decline to enable the feature during the initial setup of their device or after a major iOS upgrade, and some may have inadvertently done so — but other users may have intentionally restricted access for security and privacy reasons. For this latter group of users, those who would like to keep Location Services disabled for most apps and services but still have access to the automatic sunset and sunrise Night Shift feature can opt to enable Location Services overall, and then manually disable Location Services for all apps and services except for the iOS Time Zone setting.
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