What is True Tone?

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True Tone is a feature developed by Apple for its devices, including iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. It uses advanced sensors to adjust the display’s colour and intensity to match the ambient light in the user’s environment. The goal is to provide a more natural and comfortable viewing experience by making the screen appear like a sheet of paper under the current lighting conditions.

Here are some critical points about True Tone:

  • Adaptive display: True Tone continuously adapts the display’s colour temperature and brightness based on the surrounding light.
  • Ambient light sensors: The device uses multi-channel sensors to measure the ambient light’s brightness and colour temperature.
  • Improved visual comfort: By adjusting the display to match the environment, True Tone can help reduce eye strain and make the screen more comfortable to view in various lighting conditions.
  • Consistent colour appearance: True Tone aims to maintain a consistent appearance of colours across different environments, making images and videos look more natural.
  • User control: Users can enable or disable the True Tone feature in their device’s settings according to their preference.

True Tone is designed to enhance the user experience by providing a display that adapts to the user’s environment, making it easier on the eyes and providing a more natural viewing experience. Here’s some more about it:

Apple True Tone: The Ultimate Guide to Adaptive Display Technology

Here's the visual representation capturing the essence of Apple's True Tone technology in a home office setting, highlighting the feature's capability to adjust display colors according to ambient light for an enhanced visual experience.

Apple’s True Tone technology is a groundbreaking feature that has revolutionised how we interact with our devices.

Designed to enhance the visual experience by adapting the display to match the ambient light in the user’s environment, True Tone has become a staple in Apple’s lineup of iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of True Tone, exploring its development, functionality, and the benefits it offers users.

The Evolution of Display Technology

Before we dive into the specifics of True Tone, let’s take a moment to understand the evolution of display technology. In the early days of computing, displays were limited to low-resolution monochrome screens. As technology progressed, colour displays emerged, offering a more vibrant and engaging visual experience. However, these displays often suffered from poor colour accuracy and inconsistent brightness levels.

With the advent of LED and OLED displays, screen quality improved significantly. These technologies allowed higher resolutions, better colour reproduction, and enhanced contrast ratios. Yet, despite these advancements, displays still struggled to adapt to the varying lighting conditions in different environments. This is where Apple’s True Tone technology comes into play.

The Science Behind True Tone

True Tone is a sophisticated feature that relies on advanced sensors and algorithms to adjust the display’s colour temperature and brightness in real time. The technology uses multi-channel sensors to measure the ambient light in the user’s surroundings. These sensors detect both the brightness and colour temperature of the light, allowing the device to make precise adjustments to the display.

The human eye is sensitive to the colour temperature of light, which is measured in Kelvin (K). Warmer light, such as candlelight or sunrise, has a lower colour temperature, typically around 2000-3000K. On the other hand, cooler light, such as daylight or fluorescent lighting, has a higher colour temperature, ranging from 5000-6500K. True Tone technology takes these variations into account and adjusts the display accordingly.

When enabled, True Tone continuously analyses the ambient light and adapts the display’s white point and brightness to match the environment. This means that in warmer lighting conditions, the display will shift towards a warmer colour temperature, while in cooler lighting, it will adjust to a cooler temperature. The result is a more natural and comfortable viewing experience that reduces eye strain and improves readability.

Implementing True Tone

Apple first introduced True Tone technology in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in 2016. Since then, the feature has been integrated into many Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, and iMac. The implementation of True Tone varies slightly across different devices due to the unique hardware and software configurations.

In iPhones and iPads, True Tone relies on the device’s ambient light sensor, which is located near the front-facing camera. This sensor measures the surrounding light’s colour, temperature, and brightness and communicates the data to the device’s processor. The processor then adjusts the display’s white point and brightness to match the ambient light.

True Tone uses the Apple T2 Security Chip, a more advanced system on MacBooks and iMacs. This chip includes a dedicated ambient light sensor with the device’s central processor to adjust the display’s colour temperature and brightness. The T2 chip also helps to maintain colour accuracy across different lighting conditions, ensuring that images and videos appear consistent and natural.

Benefits of True Tone

True Tone technology offers several benefits to users, enhancing the overall experience of using Apple devices. One of the primary advantages of True Tone is improved visual comfort. By adapting the display to match the ambient light, True Tone reduces eye strain and fatigue, especially in low-light conditions. This is particularly beneficial for users who spend long hours staring at their screens, such as professionals, students, and avid readers.

Another benefit of True Tone is increased readability. In bright sunlight, displays often appear washed out and difficult to read. True Tone addresses this issue by adjusting the brightness and contrast of the display, making text and images more legible even in challenging lighting conditions. This is particularly useful for outdoor use, such as reading e-books or browsing the web in a park or on the beach.

True Tone also enhances colour accuracy and consistency across different environments. Without True Tone, the appearance of colours on a display can vary significantly depending on the lighting conditions. For example, a vibrant and natural photo in daylight may appear dull and muted under artificial lighting. True Tone helps to maintain colour accuracy by adjusting the display’s white point to match the ambient light, ensuring that colours appear consistent and true to life.

In addition to these benefits, True Tone technology can also contribute to better sleep quality. Exposure to blue light, which is emitted by electronic devices, has been shown to disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. By shifting the display’s colour temperature towards warmer tones in the evening, True Tone can help reduce the amount of blue light emitted, promoting better sleep hygiene.

Customisation and Control

While True Tone technology is designed to enhance the visual experience automatically, Apple also allows users to customise and control the feature according to their preferences. Users can easily enable or disable True Tone in the device’s settings menu with a simple toggle switch.

For those who prefer a more granular level of control, iOS and macOS offer additional settings for fine-tuning the display’s colour temperature and brightness. In iOS, users can access the Display Accommodations settings to adjust the colour tint and reduce white point intensity. Similarly, on macOS, users can use the built-in Color Calibrator utility to create custom colour profiles tailored to their needs.

It is worth noting that while True Tone technology is designed to improve the visual experience, some users may prefer to disable the feature in certain situations. For example, graphic designers, photographers, and video editors may require a more accurate representation of colours for their work. In such cases, disabling True Tone ensures that the display remains colour-accurate and consistent with industry standards.

True Tone and Night Shift

In addition to True Tone, Apple devices also feature a similar technology called Night Shift. While both features aim to improve the visual experience, they serve different purposes. Night Shift is specifically designed to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by the display in the evening, helping to promote better sleep.

When Night Shift is enabled, the display’s colour temperature shifts towards warmer, more yellow tones. This reduces the impact of blue light on the body’s circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep after using the device. Night Shift can be scheduled to activate automatically based on the time of day or sunrise and sunset times.

Although True Tone and Night Shift are separate features, they can work together to provide a more comfortable and customised viewing experience. True Tone focuses on adapting the display to ambient light, while Night Shift specifically targets reducing blue light in the evening. Users can enable both features simultaneously or use them independently based on their preferences and needs.

The Future of True Tone

As display technology evolves, True Tone will likely become an increasingly important feature in Apple devices and beyond. With the growing awareness of the impact of digital screens on eye health and sleep quality, adaptive display technologies like True Tone are poised to play a significant role in improving the user experience.

In future iterations of True Tone, we may see even more advanced sensors and algorithms that can better understand and adapt to the user’s environment. This could include detecting and adjusting for specific lighting types, such as fluorescent or LED, or considering the user’s sensitivity to light.

Moreover, as Apple continues to expand its ecosystem of devices, True Tone technology may be integrated into a broader range of products, such as the Apple Watch or even the upcoming Apple AR/VR headset. Adaptive display technology could prove valuable in immersive environments, where comfortable and natural-looking visuals are essential for a seamless user experience.


Apple’s True Tone technology represents a significant step forward in adaptive display technology, offering users a more comfortable, natural, and visually engaging experience. By continuously adjusting the display’s colour temperature and brightness to match the ambient light, True Tone reduces eye strain, improves readability, and maintains colour accuracy across different environments.

Features like True Tone will become increasingly important in ensuring a healthy and enjoyable user experience as we rely on digital devices for work, entertainment, and communication. With its commitment to innovation and user-centric design, Apple is well-positioned to lead the way in developing adaptive display technologies that prioritise the well-being and satisfaction of its users.

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