See your home screen in living color

iPhone “color filters” help users combat addictive behaviors and aid colorblindness

By on April 3, 2018

Apple products have become some of the most advanced technologies available to the public. With each new model of the iPhone, there comes a string of features such as Apple Pay, facial recognition and studio-quality pictures. But a feature that has gone pretty unnoticed is one that can actually produce positive physical and mental responses while using your device.

The “color filter” accommodation can be found in your accessibility settings on iPhones and is meant to help users with colorblindness correct the colors on their screen so they can easily distinguish what they are looking at.

“Color filters can be used to differentiate colors by users who are color blind and aid users who have difficulty reading the text on the display,” a statement underneath the setting states.

There are five filters in this setting that include grayscale, red/green filter, green/red filter, blue/yellow filter and color tint.

The three two-color options are catered for three different types of colorblindness. The red/green filter is meant to correct protanopia, a type of colorblindness that affects the ability to see red or green. The green/red filter is targeted for deuteranopia, color blindness that predominantly affects the ability to see green. The last filter, blue/yellow, is made for tritanopia, which is the color blindness that makes people confuse blue with green and yellow with purple.

The setting can be customized based on how intense the user needs the color filter to be in order to help them see and can be changed with an “intensity” scale at the bottom of the setting page.

Color blindness affects approximately one in 12 men and one in 200 women in the world, according to colourblindnessawareness.org. Most people who are born color blind inherit it based on their genetics.

This new setting was installed during the iOS 10 update in the summer of 2017. Although this is a huge leap in helping those with colorblindness to see their phones, there have only been a few other technologies created to help these people see clearly.

A pair of glasses called EnChroma, created by Andrew Schmeder and Don McPherson in 2010, correct color blindness by enhancing color vision.

“Since the very start, EnChroma has been using the latest understanding in color perception neuroscience to help countless people not just see color, but see and understand the world,” EnChroma states.

In 2014, Spectral Edge created a new technology solution called Eyeteq.

“Eyeteq subtly modifies colors on your TV screen, tablet or smartphone in such a way that colour-blind people can easily differentiate between colours they otherwise cannot,” the company’s website, spectraledge.co.uk, reads.

In addition to the three color filters meant for those who have color blindness, there are two outliers. Grayscale and color tint are used to help users customize the colors of their screens, but there is a new, surprising effect from using one of them.

In April of 2017, former design ethicist at Google, Tristan Harris, suggested users who were addicted to their phones turn on grayscale to combat their addictive behaviors.

In an interview with CBS, Harris compared the allure of constantly using smartphones to that of a slot machine.

“[Smartphones] operates on a very scheduled reward, so sometimes you check your phone and you’re playing a slot machine, and if you get a message from a person you love… it feels really good,” Harris said. “Then sometimes you check your phone and there’s nothing there and the fact that you get something and sometimes you don’t, is what makes it just like a slot machine.”

Harris continues by addressing the fact that companies apply whatever method they can so that users spend more time on an app because it takes up more of their attention.

“What we miss is this attention economy, every company needs,” Harris said. “[They] maximize how much attention it gets from you and there’s a whole method of techniques to do that and a slot machine is what we sprinkle on our product to get people to use it more.”

An example of this “attention economy” includes the creation of Snapchat streaks, which monitor the of amount days someone communicates with another person. The longer the Snapchat streak is between friends, the user has a more perceived dedication than someone who talks to that friend for less amount of days.

“A lot of kids have a 150 or 250 day streaks and it stresses kids out because they feel like, ‘If I don’t get back to my friend, they’ll be upset,’” Harris said. “You have kids waking up sending pictures of walls, and ceilings and drawers just to get through their day. And you have to ask was this made to help kids with their lives?”

To counteract this excessive reliance on using smartphones, Harris suggests to turn the grayscale filter on.

Although this feature may not completely rid someone’s habit of constantly checking their phone, the absence of all the colors from apps that rely on color, such as Instagram and Snapchat, create a monotone experience that is less interesting and less likely to hold attention and encourages people to use their phones less.

These color features seem to be hidden in the depths of the Setting menu, but to turn them on simply open your Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Settings > Color Filter. The filters allow any user to customize these filters depending on their preference or necessity.

 

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About Charlotte Gardner

Arts and Life Editor