With iPad Pro and True Tone, Apple finds reason to nerd out over iOS color management

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in iPad
Every once in a while, Apple rolls out new behind-the-scenes features that are exceptional technical achievements but receive little fanfare. With the launch of the miniature iPad Pro, that focus shifted toward the important-but-impenetrable world of color management.


ColorSync at work in OS X. Note the small variance between RGB (screen) and CMYK (print) colors. | Test file provided by MacGenie


Color management software does basically exactly what it sounds like: it manages the way colors are displayed in different mediums. With good color management, Apple's famous Bondi Blue iMac will look more or less the same on your iPhone's screen as it does in person or in a printed brochure.

Unless you're someone for whom color is important -- a photographer or a designer, perhaps -- you'll probably never notice color management at work. For that small group of insiders, though, color management is often absolutely critical.

Apple's desktop operating systems have long had what is considered the best color management in the industry, called ColorSync.

First released in the early 1990s, the development of ColorSync led Apple more-or-less directly into a partnership with Adobe, Agfa, Kodak, and others to form the International Color Consortium. Today, the ICC controls the world's primary color management specification.

Though the Mac has maintained its sterling reputation for color accuracy throughout the years, Apple's iOS devices have been left out in the cold -- until now.


Color management fail in iOS 8.4, top, compared to ColorSync in iOS 9.3, bottom.


During its announcement, Apple made a big deal of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro's True Tone display, which automatically adjusts the white point to match the ambient lighting conditions. The company likewise touted the baby Pro's newfound support for the DCI-P3 color gamut, a next-generation color standard that has begun to trickle down from Hollywood.

What Apple failed to mention, as noted by AnandTech's Brandon Chester, is that iOS and OS X are now essentially at feature parity with respect to ColorSync.

Though consumers may occasionally notice the baby Pro's more accurate color representations, this is a Big Deal for color-focused professionals. It means that iOS now has the ability to slide into OS X's spot in some professional workflows, putting a little more "Pro" in the iPad.

Most of all, though, it's a sign that Apple is still paying attention to the little things.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    That Anandtech article is a good read. As are the comments by melgross. Another feature that iOS has that isn't present in Android.
    pscooter63cornchipargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 10
    ColorSync is one thing that makes a device PRO, another is file management which iOS is missing, and export of edited photos which can resultat in not- processed files + the decription file when downloade to a Mac!!!! A message have been sent to Apple about this problem.
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Extended color space will be one of the most important features of immersive VR in future. If you want to fool your brain into believing you are in a real environment and not a movie, this is how you do it. 
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 4 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,180member
    sog35 said:
    and this is why Displaymate 'tests' are total bullcrap.

    Hope they enjoy the checks they receive from Samsung each month. They should use it to make their website look better. Looks straight from 2002 at this moment.


    No, they aren't crap. Do you understand what they are? Do you understand that unless you've got a new 9.7" iPad Pro, or late 2015 27" iMac, you can barely see the difference with most things? They gave the new 9.7" iPad Pro display a superb review, and discussed the color management as well.

    here's an article I read today about this. It's right on the mark. I used to teach color management. It's still not simple.

    http://blog.iconfactory.com/2016/04/looking-at-the-future/
    edited April 2016 argonaut
  • Reply 5 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,180member
    That Anandtech article is a good read. As are the comments by melgross. Another feature that iOS has that isn't present in Android.

    Yes, Android has NO color management. Whether alphabet has any interest in giving it one is questionable right now. Microsoft has never really cared that much about it either. Some time ago, there were a lot of protests to Microsoft about that, and so, they did come up with one. But it was a halfhearted effort that never caught on much. It's off by default, and when turned on, can cause more problems than it solves because of the way it handles icc profile conversions, among other things.
    pscooter63argonaut
  • Reply 6 of 10
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    ColorSync is one thing that makes a device PRO, another is file management which iOS is missing, and export of edited photos which can resultat in not- processed files + the decription file when downloade to a Mac!!!! A message have been sent to Apple about this problem.
    Add "Document 5" (free) or something similar and you'll have your file management.

    Even if you had native file management, you'd still wouldn't have access to the storage, but an abstraction of it (a container like Document 5, from which you can call whatever app to open a file).

  • Reply 7 of 10
    "Though the Mac has maintained its sterling reputation for color accuracy throughout the years" Haha! Maybe the hardware has, but in the world of video, Apple's name is a joke. Despite persistent complaints from users, Apple has utterly failed to address crippling gamma problems in QuickTime. And now they've abandoned QuickTime for Windows, meaning that its work on ProRes will go to waste as people flock to other codecs. Like many other media professionals, I will not save my work in a codec that only works on one platform. Not to mention that it's a platform dying from neglect, as Apple sells a million iPhones a day and has little interest in maintaining "niche" products that are only used by thousands or even tens of thousands of users. Pro Apps are dead, and QuickTime's largely abandoned with no replacement. There are so many things to fix in iOS, we have to question the resources spent on this. Come on, Apple is selling phones that are handheld Unix computers, but don't ALERT YOU TO MISSED CALLS! And why expend so much energy managing colors on PORTABLE devices that are typically used in far-from-optimal ambient lighting and suffer from the idiotic use of GLOSSY screens? So... you're getting "accurate" colors that you'll never see, because they're covered by a sheen of reflection 100 percent of the time. Talk about messed-up priorities. And WTF, AppleInsider: Why do you strip returns out of our comments?
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 8 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,319member
    melgross said:
    That Anandtech article is a good read. As are the comments by melgross. Another feature that iOS has that isn't present in Android.

    Yes, Android has NO color management. Whether alphabet has any interest in giving it one is questionable right now. Microsoft has never really cared that much about it either. Some time ago, there were a lot of protests to Microsoft about that, and so, they did come up with one. But it was a halfhearted effort that never caught on much. It's off by default, and when turned on, can cause more problems than it solves because of the way it handles icc profile conversions, among other things.
    True dat. iOS would be more likely to be part of a professional workflow IMHO, perhaps the reason there looks to be little interest in Android color profiling outside of a couple of 3rd party apps. As on iOS up until now very few users would ever notice or care of course, but for those that do the latest OS version now has it, Android doesn't. Maybe never will. 
    edited April 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 10
    foggyhill said:
    ColorSync is one thing that makes a device PRO, another is file management which iOS is missing, and export of edited photos which can resultat in not- processed files + the decription file when downloade to a Mac!!!! A message have been sent to Apple about this problem.
    Add "Document 5" (free) or something similar and you'll have your file management.

    Even if you had native file management, you'd still wouldn't have access to the storage, but an abstraction of it (a container like Document 5, from which you can call whatever app to open a file).

    But that doesn't really cut it if app-devs don't think this is a default function. You can not get them automatically to see the possibilities. This is why file management is built into operating systems in the first place as an expectation, so that app developers don't need to figure it out and invent the wheel every time. This is really annoying on IOS devices that the options are always different for every app. Its like being on windows now for the feeling that your save file dialogue is always from some iteration of windows. Sometimes from 3.1, 95, 2000, nt, xp, 8.1 and so on smiley
    Sometimes you quick links are available and mostly not...

    On IOS devices you can not really be sure that the workflow you need is possible. This is a real set back for the pro user. Sometimes its possible sometimes you will need to google a LOT and is it really worth the hassle. You really don't know until you try and maybe hit a dead end. In OS X you know that you can do it if file compatibility is there. On IOS its not sure and not worth the hassle IMHO.
    edited May 2016
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