iPhone color filters - what are they supposed to do?

I was very excited when I found out that the iPhone had added a series of “color filters” to assist color blind users.

I am a deutan (green-weak red-green colorblind), the most common type of colorblindness. So I turned on the deutan filter. I don’t know what I expected, but I guess I would be able to see a broader range of greens and browns and pinks, which give me the most trouble.

But when I turn on the filter, what I see is just “off.” A lot of the colors seem to have faded out instead of intensified.

And my wallpaper of colorful delicious sushi looks unappetizing now.

What is the color filter supposed to be doing?

They’re supposed to make you think that the phone is “better” and more sophisticated in order to justify the constant rise in what are already absurdly high prices.

There’s a ton of crap on my phone that I don’t actually use.

I posted on Instagram what the Deutan filter does on my iPhone.

The first image is with the Deutan filter turned on, the second is normal.


I’m actually posting a serious question about accessibility.

It’s supposed to increase the contrast between colors that you would normally have difficulties distinguishing.
Here’s what Apple says.

So it just changes the colors. It doesn’t try to represent what it “should” look like?

I’m not sure that’s possible.
I’d have to think about it…

I really, really care about accessibility issues. The filtered image is just colored shifted to (guessing here) provide contrast. It does not look like anything a person with unimpaired vision would see. That is a 'Good Thing’™ for many people.

Moderator Note

Jasmine, let’s stick to factual responses in GQ until after the question has been answered. No warning issued, but response like this do not address the question the OP asked.

General Questions Moderator

Oh, absolutely. My colorblindess is rarely a life-or-death matter, but ithere could definitely be circumstances in which colorblindness is a serious issue.

I’m just looking at my iPhone home screen and I can’t imagine that color shifting could make a critical difference to me while just looking at my phone icons, so I’m
Not too upset about that.

I haven’t yet tried to look at a chart or graph that would otherwise be unreadable to me.

I was just hoping that “fixing colors to help colorblind users” might also coincide with “making it look like normal vision people see it.”

Waiting for that day for so many friends! There are glasses that help or even eliminate certain types of color blindness. Sadly, filters do not.

I’m wondering if that “deutan filter” is intended for people with deuterOPIA (complete lack of green perception) rather than deuterANOMALY (green weak). The distinction is not always appreciated.

Oddly enough, the best colorblind adjustment I’ve come across is in World of Warcraft which has several filters for the colorblind AND allows you to adjust intensity of the filters - which has made my experiences in the Barrens and Stranglethorn much easier. Here is a link to a “simulator” allowing you to see the same location with the various filters. I will note that this is the old set of filters, the new filter interface is different, but the basic options remain.

The thing to remember is that all of these filters do change the colors - meaning even the colorblind are going to notice a difference. It won’t necessarily result in a “natural” color appearance, the purpose is to increase contrast to make it easier to, say, pick out details in the scenery, see special effects better, or read text/other interfaces easier.

Basically, with all such things use them if you find them helpful, don’t use them if they don’t help you.

No, the glasses DO NOT “eliminate” color blindness. They can’t get into your retina and change the color sensitivity of your cones. What they do is filter the light to emphasize certain wavelengths over others. In other words, they are also a filter. A sophisticated filter, but still a filter.

Which is not to say they have no use - certainly they are a great thing for some people. But if you have someone who simply can not perceive green (deuteropia) or red (protanopia) or blue (tritanopia) something like Enchroma glasses aren’t going to have much if any effect on their vision. They work best for the people with -anomly conditions, not -opia conditions.

My apologies, both poorly informed and presumptuous. Thank you for the correction.

World of Warships also has three different colorblind filters you can evoke but all it changes is the color of the icons used for the ships on the maps and the HUD, not the overall scene so ‘natural’ doesn’t enter into it. There are only three colors, green (us) red (them) and yellow (division-mate) but it is important to tell them apart.

Yeah, a color-blind person can’t see the same thing that a non-colorblind person does. That’s why it’s called “blindness”. For something like a pretty picture of a rainbow, there’s not much you can do, and anything you could do would require artistic ability (which computers aren’t known for). But for things like making text readable against a background, or making icons look distinct, even if you can’t see the same things, you can at least hope to see as well. And computerized filters can, at least sometimes, do that.

I’m surprised this is a new thing. I could swear I’ve seen this functionality on computers before. But, yes, the point is not making colors look more realistic to colorblind users (which I don’t understand how that would be possible), but rather to make them more distinguishable. The few times I’ve designed charts and maps, I’ve always referred to colorblind color palettes to make it easier for the colorblind to distinguish hues. I would assume what this filter does is shift colors (and possibly even brightness and darkness values) to help visually distinct colors appear visually distinct to color blind users. So if you’re red-green colorblind and have a red-green heavy image, you might want to shift one of those colors off to the blue/magenta side of the spectrum so you could distinguish them.