Let There Be Light: 3 Free iOS Apps Featuring Light

Some people might think that to use their iPhone as a flashlight is to belittle the device. After all, considering the amount of money spent on even the least expensive of Apple's wunderphone, using it instead of a two dollar LED flashlight you can get just about anywhere may seem insulting. That is until you need a flashlight and don't have one handy. That's really the key, convenience.

Free on iTunes

I have my iPhone with me darn near everyplace I go, so in this regard making use of all its features and functions is not so much insulting as it is smart.

Happen to be in a dimly lit restaurant and want to read the fine print on the menu? Dropped your keys in the grass while returning from a late night stroll? Need more light on your kid's finger while you remove that tiny splinter? Your iPhone's LED flash strobe can come to the rescue.

I use to fire up the camera app and put it in movie mode whenever I needed to use the LED for some extra illumination, but that can be an inconveniently long process, especially when I'm in a hurry. What I needed was an app that's simple to use and makes that LED readily accessible.

Yep, I know there are lots of apps out there that use light as a primary feature, the problem is which one should you choose?

After not extensively testing hundreds of light featured apps, I've selected three that I think you might find interesting for one reason or another. I shall illuminate.

Magnifying Glass with Light

OK, remember the scenario I mention earlier about being in a dimly lit restaurant and needing to read fine print. Such a situation can be deadly. Misread an ingredient that you happen to be allergic to and your nice evening out could turn into a trip to the emergency room, or worse.

There are many ways to avoid problems like that, but an easy and convenient solution would be to have an app the magnifies tiny text and throws some light on the subject. Enter Magnifying Glass with Light. (I'm sure they could've come up with a better name than that.)

Magnifying GlassMagnified without light

This is a very simple app that works as advertised. Fire it up and it activates your iPhone's camera, then it magnifies the image on the screen about 2x. There's a slider to increase the magnification if you feel you need it, but the 2x size increase seems to work just fine for me.

Magnifying GlassMagnified with light

The kicker, however, is the light. Turn it on and dim menu text become a cinch to read—contents in pill bottles are no longer a mystery, and you can now identify the remains of the bug that just bit you.

Yes, this app has ads, but they are not horribly annoying, and you can get rid of them by paying for an upgrade that adds a few extra features, like image stabilization.

Magnifyinf GlassMost settings are only available after you pay to upgrade.

Magnifying Glass with Light is a nice little app that will come in handy, no matter how good your eyes are.

Night Light Free

Night Light

I often fall asleep with the nightstand light on. I'm not afraid of the dark, and I don't do it on purpose, it's just that when I'm ready to sleep I drop off quickly. When I wake a few hours later I'm always annoyed that I've left the light on (yet) again. Even so, there is a certain comfort in waking to see familiar objects around you immediately. It's likely why millions of adults use night lights.

Night LightNice selection of screens

For these folks just a little extra light is all they need, and that where Night Light Free comes in handy. Run the app and tap the screen and you get a soft, soothing white light that is just bright enough to provide moonlight-like illumination. You can select color if the white light is not to your liking. There are even patterned screens that softly strobe or cycle through colors. All very nice and all very free.

There are ads, however, but they only appear in the solid screens. They can be a bit annoying if you are bothered by small changes in light intensity. Still, Night Light Free is an app worth looking into. There's an iPad version as well.


One of hundreds of such apps of its kind, Flashlight has matured into a simple, easy to use, and useful tool. Fire it up and it's on in about 2 seconds. There's nothing here you don't need. The interface to the manage the LED is simple; an off/on switch, a switch for strobe or S.O.S flash patterns, controls to slow of increase the speed of the flashing, brightness control, and a manual button where the light is on while you hold it.

FlashlightDefault Flashlight screen. Simple!

This app was around before the iPhone had an LED flash. Back then you used the screen as a light source. That is still available by simply swiping the LED control screen to the left or right. You find a different colored screens with each swipe. Double tab the screen to bring up the the customize menu where you can create new screen colors and control other features, and it includes some really nice screens including a clock and photo display mode.

FlashlightCustomize to your heart's content. For free!

If you were wondering where the ads are you'll wonder no more, they are visible in the customize area. This is smart. If you are in so great a need of a flashlight that you are willing to use your phone as such the last thing you'll be paying any attention to is ads.

I have tried several flashlight apps, some are very good, but this one gets it. Fast, simple, useful. No gimmicks, minimal advertising, extensively customizable. And it's free. No iPhone should be without Flashlight.

And that's a wrap for this week. More free goodies next week, so stay tuned.