We've seen quite a few utility apps appear in the App Store, everything from measuring and conversion tools to those that monitor and estimate our iDevice battery level. One of those subcategories is flashlight apps. The concept of making your phone's screen a completely white pallet to use as illumination is basic but useful. The setbacks are using your phone's battery and having an unfocused light source, but that all changed with iPhone 4.
One of the new features of the iPhone 4 is a bright white LED to assist in low light photography and video recording. What some of us iPhone 4 users noticed is this LED is really quite bright, so why not use it for general illumination? At least two developers have decided to pursue that idea with updated flashlight apps just for iPhone 4. Dazzling Flashlight 4g
have an option to light up your iPhone 4's display, as usual, but also let you easily activate the LED flash on the rear of your iPhone 4.
These and similar apps have been submitted for Apple's approval but some wonder if they'll pass. Why? It's unclear if these developers are using private APIs or some other unofficial means to access the LED enable and disable function. Steve Jobs said that the three top reasons for iPhone rejections and removals from the App Store were the app not providing the functions as described, crashing or use of private APIs.
The method to use the LED now is fairly tedious. Launch the Camera app, switch to video recording mode, and tap the flash icon (lightning bolt) to change the setting to on. Another problem is this seems to drastically use battery power. The camera always being on is likely another significant power drainer. Nonetheless, this is still a useful function for the new hardware feature.
I did some tests using the free Flashlight
app, a regular 4.8 watt LED flashlight
and my iPhone 4. My iPhone 4's screen brightness was set to maximum. You can click on the photos below for a larger version.
LED flashlight, iPhone 4 LED, and iPhone 4 screen at about 1 foot
LED flashlight, iPhone 4 LED, and iPhone 4 screen at about 3 feet
LED flashlight and iPhone 4 LED at about 5 feet
You'll note the lack of an iPhone 4 screen at five feet. Why? The light was so dim that my 3GS couldn't pick it up. The test was performed with my 3GS at the same level and distance from the light source. I used a glossy white painted wall to provide the best results I could. Please also note that the 3GS didn't pick up the radial light, primarily the concentrated.
Despite the high battery drain, I'd still enjoy an app that would give me quick access to the LED for those brief and unprepared needs. Who else is with me?