So Much For That Glorious iPad Screen: iOS and its Apps are Not Even Color Managed
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iOS Color Management
Leaves Me Feeling Blue
( note: all browsers, whether color managed or not, will show me as blue in this copy )

Well, this is surprising: iOS does not seem to be color managed. At all.

This is a long and technical article. Here's the table of contents:


With all the talk these days about glorious color performance of the third-generation iPad screen, such as this article and this, I realized that my Lightroom-to-iPad workflow (presented in “Getting Photos from Lightroom to iPad: a Much Smoother Workflow”) neglected to consider color profiles. This is a huge oversight for someone like me who wrote an in-depth primer on digital-image color spaces six years ago.

So, I looked into how I might enhance my workflow along color-management lines, and discovered to my shock that iOS is not color managed. At all. I haven't found a single application, from Apple or anyone else, that is color managed. Even Datacolor's SpyderGallery app, which allows you to profile your iPad screen with a real hardware colorimeter, is not color managed.... it seems to be nothing more than a technically-incompetent placebo.

Color Management

If you're not familiar with what “color managed” means, my old primer on color spaces goes into great detail, but in short, digital images such as the JPGs you find everywhere are made up of numerical data that becomes a picture only when interpreted for display by the viewing application, such as your web browser in showing the images on this post. The display application can make assumptions about how to convert that numerical data to color, or it can be told explicitly by various notations within the file.

Of course, any assumptions may be wrong on an image-by-image basis, so it's always best if the display application uses the explicit notations if they're there, but some applications don't bother. An application is “color managed” if it uses the notations, and not color managed if it uses only assumptions.

(There's another facet of color management that deals with how those colors are then presented on any specific display device; I'll get to that later.)

So, why am I blue?

It's okay and expected that I'm blue in the photo above, which originally was by Paul Barr of me from my previous post; I'll explain why in the next paragraph, which will then prepare us to understand when I present the real problem in the paragraphs that follow.

Embedded Color-Profile Support

The lead photo of this post uses raw color data that makes me look blue when interpreted with “common” assumptions about the data→color conversion process. In the copy above, I make sure that there are no notations about how to do the proper conversion (I stripped the “color profile” that would normally be embedded within the image file), so your browser has no choice but to guess, and for this test I made sure that the common guesses would produce an obviously-wonky result. (No comments, please, about how any photo of me is “obviously wonky” 🙂 )

Now, let's look at exactly the same image, except that it does have an embedded color profile describing the exact data→color conversion process. This means that the next image will appear to you with generally proper colors (I'm pink, not blue) if your browser does not ignore the color profile. If it ignores it, instead opting to make assumptions, I'll look exactly the same blue as in the top image.

Am I Feeling Blue or Tickled Pink?
this is the main test image
if this version looks blue, your browser is not color managed

Did your browser pass the test?

When I first wrote my color-space primer six years ago, most browsers would fail, showing a blue me. Things are better today, especially on a Mac where all major browsers have been color managed for years.

On Windows, it's still a mixed bag. Firefox and Safari have been color managed for a long time, but Internet Explorer became color managed only last year with IE9, and Chrome and Opera are still not color managed and leave me blue. (In a twist of irony illustrating the Mac's general lead in this area, Microsoft's own Internet Explorer for the Mac, last updated nine years ago, is color managed and shows me in all my pink, er, glory. It took Microsoft another eight years to get around to doing the same thing for their own operating system's users.)

I won't go so far as to say that if you see a pink me, you're seeing accurate colors, because I have no idea whether your computer display is adjusted properly (or even at all!), but any kind of pink is a lot closer to accurate than blue.

Okay, so now try viewing this blog post on your iOS browser; the results will, I'm fairly certain, leave you feeling blue.

Obviously I can personally test only a small subset of devices and applications, but I have not found any — not even one — iOS application that displays the second image properly. You can save it to your camera roll and view it with any number of applications, including apps from such leaders as Apple and Adobe, and they all show me as blue because they all ass·u·me incorrectly, even though the color profile is right there in the image. Back in 2006, on the History of Color Mis-Management page of my color-space writeup, I called such applications “Color Stupid”, but in this day and age, such applications should probably be called something much worse, like “Color Moronic”, or “Color Leaves-Me-Dumbfounded”.

To make testing easy, here are three versions of the image presented in a convenient group, two as test “controls”, and one for the real test:

Control Image
Always Correct
Test Image
Pink or Blue?
Control Image
Always Blue

I'd be curious to hear how these images display in various situations... what about Chrome on Android? Photoshop for iPad? If you try them, let me know the results in the comments below.

I created these test images with the intent that a lack of color management is exaggerated to the point of being obviously apparent. In the real world it can be subtle, but the practical effect is often a “washed out” image. You can see some real-world examples on the “Test Images” page of my color-space writeup.

( this photo has nothing to do with this post )

Not wanting an article where the only photo is of me, I'll take the liberty to sprinkle the rest of the article with random photos that have appeared on my blog during the past year, each with the “Funky RGB” color so that they're at least “interesting” when viewed in a non-color-manged browser. Clicking on them brings you to the article where they first appeared, presented there in a color space that should at least not look totally wonky when not color managed. (If your browser is color managed, it may be fun to look at this article with a non-managed browser.... some of these pics look pretty crazy that way.)

Okay, so back to iOS. It's surprising enough that iOS is not color managed, but the most egregious offender I've found is Datacolor's SpyderGallery app. If you can get by the vomit-inducing intro text (“If you could be a color, which one would you be?”), you'll find claims that users will “enjoy color corrected viewing of their photos” and that you “will no longer need to compromise color accuracy for the convenience of your iOS device.

This is all fine and dandy if it were true, but the app is not color managed!

Device-Specific Color Profiles

Let's step back a bit to first look at the other facet of “color managed” that I mentioned earlier. Above we talked about how colors are derived from an image file, and about how a color profile — a device-independent color profile — can be used to accurately guide the conversion process to come up with the proper conceptual idea of “color” for each pixel. The flip side is the facet of how those conceptual colors are actually presented on each specific display device.

We've all seen the banks of TV screens at the electronics store showing the same program, but with wildly different looks.... each TV seems to have its own tint or richness or brightness, etc. The same goes for our display devices (computer monitors, tablet screens, etc.), and a properly color-managed application will adjust on the fly for the characteristics of the device(s) it's displaying on.

In order to properly adjust for each specific display device, the application must know the answer to the question: "When I think I'm sending such-and-such a color to the display device, what color actually shows up on screen?". The answer is unique to each device, and changes even from day to day with any particular device. The answer changes every time you adjust the device video settings (brightness, contrast, tint, etc.), and the answer even changes over time as the display warms up after first being turned on in the morning.

The only reasonable way to answer the question is to “profile” the device with specialized hardware. This hardware includes a light sensor temporarily placed over the display device, then a profiling app is run that floods the sensor with a wide range of colors, allowing the app to compare the color it thinks it's sending with the color actually measured by the sensor. By calculating the difference, a “device-dependent color profile” can be created that instructs applications how to modify color data on the fly for that one specific monitor.

Now, as I said, this changes over time, so the device profile that I create today for my monitor (after it has warmed up, of course) will not be useful for you and your monitor, even if you have the same make and model, and it will likely fade out of accuracy as even for my own monitor as it ages. And it becomes immediately invalid if I make any adjustments to the monitor brightness setting, etc. But if I leave my monitor settings alone, it'll be fine for me for a while... I tend to reprofile several times a year, though serious folks do it weekly or even daily.

All that about “mine not valid for you” does apply to an iPad as well... the display characteristics of two iPads are in theory different... but from what I hear, the production is very reliable and all iPads of the same generation have very, very similar display characteristics, so a single “generic first-generation iPad” profile can likely be used by everyone with an iPad 1 with great success. This is where I failed in my original Lightroom-to-iPad workflow, something I intend to correct in a followup, soon.

Still, despite the apparent lack of a need for per-device calibration, some folks wanting the absolute last measure of quality in their photo display may want to create a hardware profile for their specific iPad. This desire meshes very nicely with the desire of colorimeter manufacturers to sell more product, and so voila, we have Datacolor's SpyderGallery app.

The Curiously-Deficient “SpyderGallery” App

It's important to understand what this app claims to offer. It's saying “use specialized hardware we sell you to measure the exact color output of your specific iPad, so that when displaying your photos with our app, we won't have to make assumptions about how your iPad displays color, we will know.” This is coming from a company that makes hardware colorimeters, so it's only natural to trust that they're experts in this area and understand the issues involved, and that when they offer a solution, it can actually do what it claims.

When I first saw this, it made me wonder what the assumptions were to begin with. I hadn't thought deeply about it, but I would have thought that iOS would contain generic device-dependent color profiles for the various iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches that iOS runs on. The profiles are not very large, and there aren't that many iDevices, so it seems to be a no-brainer to include them all. If this is the case, hardware profiling like in SpyderGallery would be of minimal use because, at best, it could try to adjust for any subtle difference between the rock-solid average iPad and each user's specific iPad. Not really much point to that, but it wouldn't hurt.

But it turns out that SpyderGallery is not color managed in the first sense we talked about in the top half of this post: even if the images contain their own color profile — specific instructions on how to convert from the numerical data to conceptual color — SpyderGallery ignores it. The app may have stopped making assumptions about the display hardware, but it's still making assumptions about the original image data in the first place. This is moronic beyond belief. It's as if they're a tailor with cutting-edge facilities to make garments to the tightest of specifications, but insist on creating your shirt based on the average human size instead of your specific measurements.

In short, Datacolor's SpyderGallery is, it seems to me, just a meaningless placebo.

I wrote to Datacolor to ask for comment, and got a fairly quick reply that implied that the app assumes all images are in the “sRGB” color space, which is the de facto standard for unprofiled images on the web. This was presented as a “recommendation”, which seems very strange, since if true, doing anything else would guarantee incorrect colors.

Possible Mitigation with iTunes?

As I wrote in my initial, now-obsolete first Lightroom-to-iPad writeup, iTunes does some very strange things to your photos in preparing them for the iPad, but it is color managed, at least on OSX, because it converts everything to the “sRGB” color space before shipping it off to the iPad. This is not exactly ideal, but in practice is probably not that big a deal one way or the other.

So, if the implication in Datacolor's response to me is true, that they assume every image is in the sRGB color space, it'll work just fine for photos that end up on your iPad via iTunes, and perhaps for other images as well. Like I said, that's all fine and dandy when the assumption works out, but considering that there's no need to make any assumptions in these cases, doing so is inexcusable for a company like Datacolor.

What's Next

Going forward, one can hope that iOS and its apps will become color managed. This is probably something Apple can address in one fell swoop with an iOS update, but since I'm not an iOS developer, I don't know the details. I suspect that lacking an iOS update on Apple's part, individual developers can work to make their apps color managed. Again, I don't know the details, but it wouldn't surprise me if lcms suddenly became a bit more popular.

There's also something we can do now in preparing our photos for the iPad.

Normally it's flat-out wrong to put a device-dependent color profile into a JPG image file, and in a classic case of “just enough knowledge to be dangerous”, any suggestion of doing so is a clear sign that someone has no clue what they're talking about. But I'm going to suggest it here. 🙂

I have created a device-dependent color profile for my specific iPad 1 (created, ironically, with a Spyder3 colorimeter from Datacolor), and I will use it when I export from Lightroom for my iPad. Currently it will be ignored by all apps I've tested (including the photo-viewing app I use), but since the image data is already exactly tailored to my device, the result should be as absolutely perfect as is possible to obtain. If iOS or my photo-viewing app suddenly becomes color managed, they'll use the color profile to realize that no conversion needs to be done, and I'll get the same perfect result.

Furthermore, if the iPad's build consistency is as solid as reported, the color profile I made for my iPad 1 will work very nicely for your iPad 1. But frankly, I don't trust that I have the skill and equipment to make the best “iPad 1” color profile possible, so before I update my Lightroom-to-iPad workflow article, I'm looking for a better source of profiles, perhaps one that can also provide profiles for the third-gen iPad and other iDevices as well. Any ideas?

One Last Caveat

I'll end this post with the admission that it seems so unlikely in this day and age that iOS is not color managed, and that the greater likelihood is that I'm simply making some stupid error, and that my complaints about iOS and SpyderGallery are undiluted ignorance on my part.

I'll be mortified and embarrassed if that's true, yet, somehow I hope it is. We'll see.

The End

The rest of this article is just more funky/pretty pictures, though which (funky or pretty) depends on whether your brwoser is color managed, and, of course, personal taste. 🙂

The 30 most-recent comments (out of 66; see all), most recent last...

Your test image is blue using the just releases Google Chrome on IOS

— comment by Ter on June 29th, 2012 at 6:58am JST (12 years ago) comment permalink

Thanks Jeffrey, great post. FWIW, Chrome on my ChromeBook doesn’t appear to have color management, either.

Version 19.0.1084.57
Platform 2046.137.0 (Official Build) stable-channel x86-alex_he
Firmware Alex.03.61.0735.0056G3.0021

— comment by Nicolas Untz on July 16th, 2012 at 6:06am JST (12 years ago) comment permalink

Tests on my Windows 7 laptop:

Windows Explorer thumbnail blue
Windows Photo Viewer ok
Picasa Photo View blue

– seen from England!

— comment by Ralph on August 2nd, 2012 at 5:22pm JST (12 years ago) comment permalink

Quick update: I just tested with Chrome on a Nexus 7 and it is not color managed either.

— comment by Nicolas Untz on August 3rd, 2012 at 1:33pm JST (12 years ago) comment permalink

Hey Jeffrey, just wanted to mention that today’s Opera 12.50 snapshot (a beta of the next Opera to come out) now supports ICC (Level 4) – you’d call its behavior “color foolish”, but it’s because of the same reason that Dave Hyatt gave at the time with regards to WebKit’s behavior. Oh, and I borrowed your extreme ICC profile from this post to make my own little with/without example 🙂

Full disclosure: I work for Opera, but have been a user of your geoencoding plugin, and an admirer of your wonderful photography, for ages.

— comment by Patrick H. Lauke on August 29th, 2012 at 5:31am JST (11 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink


How did you create a device-dependent color profile for your specific iPad? I have a ColorMunki.

Great article… the question is “Can anyone influence Apple in this area?” And if so, “HOW?”

Thanks again,

I used an app to turn my iPad into a spare monitor for my computer, and then used my normal color profiling stuff to profile it. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob DiNatale on September 14th, 2012 at 2:38am JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Update : checked on the Chrome Dev build : 23.0.1262.0 dev-m on Windows 7 which is color profiled.

But it could be due to windows 7’s in-built color management being enabled, as well.

— comment by Azad on September 18th, 2012 at 5:23am JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink


I got an iPad app (Air Display) and it was very easy to identify my iPad as a 2nd monitor. I ran my “Photo” ColorMunki software and profiled my iPad. I saved the profile as “Bob_iPad2” – it added an “.icm” extension.

When exporting my photos from Lightroom for the “Color Space” I selected the newly created profile (I had to check off “Include Display Profile” to see the “Bob_iPad2.icm” display profile)

When viewing photos on my iPad I did not see a difference between the sRGB and my custom color space. Holding the possibility that there was not a major difference, I change the “Color Space” to a test Display profile i made call “BAD_Red.icm”. Again there was no difference on the iPad with the same photo exported twice (once for each profile).

> Am I missing something in the workflow?
> Is there a problem with an “.icm” display profile vs. and “.icc” profile?


— comment by Bob DiNatale on September 18th, 2012 at 7:19am JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink


That is just I did. I have a display profile that I add when Exporting from Lightroom. I see no difference in the exported jpg.

What am I missing?

Could you detail your LR Export workflow?


How are you viewing the images on the iPad? If in Apple’s “Photos” app, via iTunes, then you’ll not see a difference because iTunes converts everything to sRGB, and it is color aware. This is all mentioned on my first Lightroom-to-iPad article. These days, I just export in sRGB and view via a 3rd party app… my workflow is all detailed on “My Lightroom-to-iPad Workflow: Now a Lot More Refined” —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob DiNatale on September 18th, 2012 at 9:01pm JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Woo Hoo! Google Chrome v22 now supports color profiles!


— comment by Bill on September 28th, 2012 at 2:30am JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi, excellent article and all you write is correct. I have a somewhat different take on the disappointments. I think the most disappointing part is that Apple doesn’t provide a stock .icc profile for the iPad, but they do under OSX. Without DataColor, even if you want to write your own color managed app, you won’t know what to output to because you don’t have the output .icc. What DataColor does is just to recover the information Apple already has but doesn’t release. Of course, DataColor would still claim that each iPad is different, but that difference could be very small compared to the standard profile, had Apple released it.

— comment by Hansong on November 2nd, 2012 at 4:02am JST (11 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I am a painter, artist in general, and noticed the colors displayed on my my new iPad 4 were harsher than my iPad 1. I have calibrated my iMac with The Spyder system over the past couple of years and I wondered about whether something could be done about the iPad. Frankly, it never occurred to me before as the iPad 1 seemed fine, more or less although shades of yellow seemed too orange and orange seemed too red.

I am glad to have found your posting. It will save me the task of trying to calibrate my new iPad.

Hopefully Apple will do something about this. Which is why I would like to subscribe to our postings, to ind out the latest news.

Thank you,
Nick M.

— comment by Anonymous on December 28th, 2012 at 2:07am JST (11 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Viewed both on laptop monitor and Asus ProArt monitor under Windows 7 : Blue in ‘My Pictures’ Folder, and on desktop. Pink in Firefox, Windows Gallery, Windows Photo Viewer, Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and Lightroom4.

Here’s where it gets odd. Safari on Ipad Mini shows you blue but copied to my Ipad Mini via itunes and you are pink! Both in the normal ‘Photos’ folder in when using the Photogenie App.

Further to this, when I want to view pics outside of Lightroom4 I usually use Quicktime Picture Viewer because it displays pics close to what I see in Lightroom. However you are blue in this application. The other way I look at my pics is within Bird Journal (a Bird and Wildlife recording database application). Pictures always look pretty good when viewed in there, yet you are blue in there too!

So the apps that show you pink, I tend not to use as the colours are always way off when compared to how I’ve edited them in Lightroom, and the the apps that show you blue, usually display my pictures pretty close to how I’ve edited them in Lightroom. All rather backwards-way-on I think you’ll agree, and not at all what I was expecting to see. Posed more questions than answers for me.

To be honest all this drives me mad, because I spend ages editing pictures so they look the way I like them, only to struggle to find a way to view then that way. I don’t as a rule print much, but I wonder just how easy it would be to predict how a print might look.

The “odd” bit (incorrect on iPad Safari, correct in iPad Photos via iTunes) is explained by iTunes being color aware; it recognizes the color profile and converts to something “good enough” for the iPad to show without color management. As for the “backwards” issue, it makes me worry that your monitor is poorly profiled, such that you’re doing more harm than good when using a color-managed image editor. It all drives me mad, too. —Jeffrey

— comment by Andrew Jackson on February 18th, 2013 at 6:43pm JST (11 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for the reply Jeffrey. I see what you mean about the ipad mini and itunes; I emailed the pic to the ipad, and sure enough it was blue!
Even if we say my monitor is poorly profiled, I’m not sure that explains what I’m seeing.
I downloaded Faststone Viewer because you can toggle colour management on/off in settings. As I’d started to realize, there seems to be more to it than colour managed or not. Toggled CM on/off and sure enough you go pink/blue, so I knew it was working. I looked at pics that typically looked washed out in Windows CM’d viewers but great in Quicktimes not CM’d viewer using Fastone and toggled again. I could see no difference between the images! So it seems that just ensuring your chosen viewer is a CM’d one doesn’t mean all will be good in the world of colour. I won’t even get into why Quicktime Viewer also displays a much sharper image, allowing me to see tiny hairs on a fungus that are just a fuzz in other viewers. All this is evident both on an uncalibrated laptop screen and my calibrated Asus ProArt monitor. (Not saying both screens look the same as each other, just the difference between images viewed in different viewers can be seen on both screens) Quite what we can make of this lot I don’t know.

My suggestion of a poorly-profiled monitor is just a guess… that’s the second half of color management (using the monitor profile to guide the conversion from device-independent color to the device-dependent data your specific monitor needs). I was wondering whether programs that do do that half of color management were getting penalized due to a bad/corrupt monitor profile. —Jeffrey

— comment by Andrew Jackson on February 19th, 2013 at 5:58am JST (11 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Andrew, Jeffrey is right, as far as I know Faststone viewer does only half of color management – it only convert images from their color space to sRGB, but not to your monitor profile. If your monitor is not close enough to sRGB and IS properly calibrated (and correct profile is installed), you will see subttle difference between Faststone and other viewer, which does both parts of color management. I have wide gamut monitor (it can display more saturated colors than colors in sRGB color space) and I switched from Faststone to Xnviewer, which does CM properly. Well, most of the time… 🙂 If you start slideshow, it does only half of color management and doesn’t take monitor profile into account.
I understand your frustration, there are strange problems at every step, for example, Adobe flash supports color management, but not if you switch firefox to fullscreen view (at least on windows). This can be quite confusing.
But if your monitor is properly calibrated and monitor profile is installed, at least Lightroom will display images properly with both parts of color management.

— comment by Martin Dubovsky on February 19th, 2013 at 4:45pm JST (11 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Thank you for posting such a fascinating and most illuminating article.

Your images render perfectly on my Mac OSX 10.6.8 powered NEC monitor.

They are NOT colour managed on my iPad 3 (as you knew!) and they are not CM’d in any iPad app. that I have — including Photoshop Touch, Snapseed, PicShop, and Photos.

— comment by Ann Shelbourne on March 18th, 2013 at 6:20am JST (11 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I can confirm that color management on Firefox for Android works when you set gfx.color_management.mode to 2.

On Samsung Galaxy Note2, we can do color correction by using custom kerner Perseus.

— comment by Jetherson Arceo on March 23rd, 2013 at 9:25pm JST (11 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I am interested in getting any/all copies of any iPad ICC Profiles you may have gathered. Currently creating a color scheme for an application and I’d like to fine tune the RGB numbers. I’ve done quite a bit of Color Management work – so I’m aware of the pit-falls.

I never did find a better way to profile my iPad, but FWIW, here’s the iPad1 ICC profile that I made back then. —Jeffrey

— comment by Kevin Muldoon on July 15th, 2013 at 1:38am JST (11 years ago) comment permalink

Have you tested any color correction systems for the Motorola Zoom running Jelly Bean Version 4.2.1 OS or have any idea if Datacolor’s SpyderGALLERY app really color calibrates the Xoom? I use X-rite Eye One Photo to color manage my monitors and printer but it does not work on my Android Xoom tablet.

— comment by |Gayland Bender on September 13th, 2013 at 11:08am JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

IMHO the best way to profile iPads (and other mobile devices for that matter) is using ArgyllCMS. It is free and open-source and the only thing you need on the tablet is a web browser. Most popular colorimeters and spectrophotometers are supported. Its command-line interface is quite powerful and flexible but there is a learning curve involved. In case you’d rather avoid that, dispcalGUI should now support remote profiling; I haven’t tried it though.

The following short guide assumes you have Argyll set up, a colorimeter connected to your computer and that your computer and tablet can talk to each other over the network.

First create a color chart (a .ti1 file containing the color values to measure). I use 600 samples (-f), including 32 dedicated gray tones (-g) and 20 for each primary color (-s). This should usually make for a decent profile, but I am no expert on this and there may be room for improvement (also, you can probably get away with less if you’re in a hurry).

targen -v -d3 -G -s20 -g32 -f600 "ipad"

Now start the webbrowser (you may need to open port 8080 in your firewall).

dispread -v -dweb:8080 -Yp "ipad"

Open a browser on the tablet and place the colorimeter on the screen. Navigate to http://[ip address]:8080 (replace [ip address] with the address of your computer). You should see different colors flashing up in the browser; this may take some time ™, depending on the number of samples and the speed of your measurement device. If all goes well, you will have a .ti3 file containing the results and can create a (matrix) profile from this:

colprof -v -A "Apple" -M "iPad (3rd gen.)" -as -qm "ipad"

Known issues:
– I had some issues with Safari, if it doesn’t work you might want to try Chrome.
– If the backlight changes during profiling, you will get a broken profile, so turn off auto-brightness.
– This still doesn’t give you color management in iOS… like Jeffrey, I convert my photos to the device profile before pushing them to the iPad.

— comment by Dominik Schubert on September 27th, 2013 at 11:15am JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Also, here is the iPad 3rd generation profile I created (brightness about 50% or 120 cd/m^2):

The iPad 3 does a pretty decent job out-of-the-box and most people will be fine just using sRGB. Coverage is nearly 100% and while the difference with the profile is noticeable, it is not huge. This is the best I have seen in a tablet.

Disclaimer: The profile was created using a DTP94, which is known to have trouble with some non-traditional monitors. While the iPad isn’t strictly speaking wide-gammut, its LED backlight might make it less accurate. Argyll allows the use of correction matrices in this case, but I don’t have access to a spectrophotometer to create one.

— comment by Dominik Schubert on September 27th, 2013 at 11:29am JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

On my iPad 3 with iOS 7, the Photos app appears to be color managed! The test image above appears pink in the Photos app and blue in Safari.

(I discovered this trying to apply Dominik Shubert’s recipe for creating a profile for the iPad — there was no visual difference between images exported from Lightroom with Color Space = sRGB and Color Space = ipad. But stripping the ICC profile from the image does show a clear difference.)

— comment by John R. Ellis on September 30th, 2013 at 5:11am JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Also, it appears that the iOS 7 Photos app assumes images without embedded profiles are sRGB rather than the native color space of the display. So you won’t get very good results with the Photos app if you profile the iPad display and then export images from Lightroom or Photoshop in the color space of the profile. If you leave the profile embedded in the image, then the Photos app will obey that profile, and you won’t get results appreciably different than if you had simply exported the image in sRGB. But if you strip the embedded profile, then the Photos app will mistakenly interpret the color numbers in the image as being in sRGB, rather than in the display’s native color space, and you’ll get bad results.

But if you use a viewer app that isn’t color managed, e.g. the Dropbox app, then images exported from LR/Photoshop in the color space of the profile will be displayed correctly, and at least with my tests, they look a little better.

— comment by John R. Ellis on October 1st, 2013 at 1:19am JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Great article.

How did you get the “blue” control image for browsers that don’t color manage?
Did you just simulate?

Or is there a way to, in Photoshop for example, convert a color profile image to be seen how it will show up in iOS?

I made a wonky color profile, and converted a normal image to it (Photoshop’s “Edit > Convert to Profile”). The conversion changes the image’s data to be very far from what common displays need, but when the wonky color profile is applied by a color-managed application, the change is undone. When you see blue, the change is not being undone, so you know that the viewer is not color managed. —Jeffrey

— comment by Derek on January 25th, 2014 at 4:44am JST (10 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Just reporting: Sadly, my BlackBerry (Q10, v.’s stock browser is not colour managed. Blue all around.

— comment by Keil on April 5th, 2014 at 12:20am JST (10 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

My IPad IOS version 7.1 shows blue effect.

My Samsung Galaxy 3 with Android 4.3 shows blue effect.

This explains why my computer monitor and the IPad don’t show the same colors for my website development project. Very interesting!


— comment by Meg on April 24th, 2014 at 1:31pm JST (10 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Jeff, what do you think of Xrite’s new ColorTrue app for color managing the iPad.

Seems impressive to me… not only manages the color of the display but equally, if not, more importantly, it lowers the gamma of images on the screen opening up shadow detail like nothing I’ve used before Also claims to support benefits of ProPhoto color space.

Now if I can only figure out ow to upload files to my iPad with a ProPhoto color space. Seems that iTunes converts photos to sRGB color space while another transfer software I have strips the ICC profile from the photo. Any thoughts?

I haven’t seen it in person yet, so I have only my suppositions (that it doesn’t actually do what they say), and hearsay (which except for your note has been uncomplimentary). At this point I’m not likely to bother trying it. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob DiNatale on April 26th, 2014 at 5:08am JST (10 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hello Jeffrey,
Hi from Texas. Your article above was my first stop this afternoon on a quest to try to answer a question.

Up until January 2014, I shot only with an iPhone5, and processed only on an iPad 3rd gen. At the first of the year I went a little crazy and bought a real camera (NEX-6) , a Mac CPU, and a subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop CC. I realized that I wanted a color managed workflow, so I use a Colormunki to calibrate my HP monitor, and I use a paper profile to print my work.

My problem is that when I import images that originated with the iPhone and were processed on the iPad into the Mac (via the Transferrable app) they are grossly dark and dull when opened in LR. The same thing happens when I process a RAW file from my camera shot in Adobe RGB, convert it to JPEG in LR, import it to the iPad via Dropbox to process, then move it back to the Mac again. It will invariably be transformed to ugly color garbage. Before reading your article I ASSUMED that iOS used some sort of color management, and wondered if it was perhaps Apple RGB (I see that in LR as an option to save as). Apparently my theory is incorrect if your theory is correct. So my question is do you know a way to move files from iOS into Adobe running on Mac OSX in a way that produces acceptable color results? If I understand your article, this is happening because there is no color information provided in the iOS files for LR to read and the answer is probably no way until iOS becomes color managed.

One more thing: I imported a few textures from various iOS apps into my library on the Mac, with the intent to blend them with camera-shot RAW files in PS. The blended image results are typically disappointing. Using any iOS-produced file seems to mess up the color.

The short answer is “I don’t know… this really isn’t my area”. I use iOS only for viewing photos, not for producing or processing photos. The iPhone “Phone” app produces sRGB photos, but other apps that generate or process photos my strip out all kinds of metadata, including colorspace data, so perhaps this is the source of at least one problem. As for the example of raw files brought into Lightroom then round tripped through iOS, it sounds like there are plenty of steps where the problem might happen, but it’s hard to guess from here. FWIW, my personal Lr-to-iPad workflow produces dandy color. —Jeffrey

— comment by Lorna Hamblin on May 19th, 2014 at 8:11am JST (10 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

It seems to me that given the perceived difference between aRGB and sRGB on real images is so small, that the best thing to do would to be to confine aRGB to the bin. If you know what you are doing, take garish pictures and have a really good printer that encompasses a fair bit of aRGB then use aRGB for print if you are happy with it. The amount of misery I’ve seen at club level where members don’t understand colour management and screw up when they try to use aRGB is enormous.
If you do the experiments with your own images then you can decide if the complication of aRGB and understanding colour management is worthwhile. I colour manage but stick to sRGB, nobody has ever criticised my colours or had problems with an image posted to the web. There are lots of photographers who post aRGB images to the web and get surprised that some viewers say colours look wrong. The problem isn’t the viewers it is the people that put non sRGB images on the web. I bet most images in Flickr are taken with cameras that can only produce sRGB.
I think insisting every device, browser, bit of software is colour managed is tackling the problem the wrong way round. – Rex

— comment by Rex on May 26th, 2014 at 4:26pm JST (10 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey – Just an update: as of ios 8 and X-rite’s new ColorTRUE app that effectively uploads a faithful color profile to the cloud and then downloads it to your ios device(s), we are now able to view corrected display images using any included “funky” profiles imbedded in the photo’s metadata; et voila: you’re in the pink, and you can actually view uncorrected vs. corrected images within the free ios app. This setup requires access to a Mac or PC running any OS released from 2011 forward on either platform, along with a supported monitor calibrator from X-rite (naturally!) and the latest calibration software from X-rite’s site.

The Colormunki Smile works with all OS’s through Win 8.1 and OS X 10.9 (aka Mavericks) with the latest drivers, and has the added advantage of being the cheapest (approx 80.00 US) and easiest to use . And I promise I have no connection, financial or otherwise with X-rite. (In fact, I’ve been less than impressed in the past with their customer service, for what it’s worth).

I work with medical imaging; image fidelity is a must, and this combo seems to fill the void nicely across desktop/laptop/tablet/phone (at least for ios devices) platforms. Let’s hope Apple sees the wisdom in this and buys the tech to include in an 8.x dot release.

Cheers from another Jeffrey!

— comment by Jeff Ray on October 2nd, 2014 at 3:48pm JST (9 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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