For more than a year, Datacolor has been saying that SpyderGallery for Android was under development, to provide display color calibration to Android, as well as iOS. Now it has finally been released, and is available for free from the Google Play Store. But what took so long?
Variety is the Spice of Android
It turns out that the wide array of screen sizes, shapes, and resolutions; as well as the wide array of screen and backlight types available in Android, Kindle, Nook devices running Android v3.0 or higher required considerable more control than the much smaller, more consistent set of variables in iPhones and iPads. No big surprise there, but to maintain the consistency that the iOS version of SpyderGallery offers, it was necessary to develop some new techniques.
Android White Balance
The first of these is a new method of white balancing screens under SpyderGallery. Many Android screens run very cool, and blue. This increases their perceived brightness, but it also reduces their color accuracy across the board. Under Android SpyderGallery measures all screens for color temperature, and each image is corrected to be in the desired 6500K range when viewed in SpyderGallery. Just toggle the color management on and off to see just how far from 6500K your Android device’s native color is; for some the native color is quite close, for others, its surprisingly far off.
Android Energy Savers
Next was issues of “energy saving features”. These occur both at the Android OS level, and in the manufacturer’s software for some lines of Android devices. Its important that no type of dimming function occur while screen measurements are being taken by the Spyder, and that no type of differential adjustment is made later to the screen in the name of energy saving. Simple backlight adjustment based on ambient light should not be a problem, but other adjustment techniques can cause color accuracy issues. Solving these problems required testing of a wide range of devices, to see just which ones had such issues, and which did not.
Android Gamma Curves
And finally there proved to be quite a range of gamma settings on Android devices. Gamma describes the relative brightness of different densities in an image. Again, increasing the gamma from the standard 2.2, to something closer to 1.8 can make a screen look brighter, but at the cost of sacrificing accurate tonality on screen, and washing out colors as well as densities of midtones. SpyderGallery for Android now offers advanced gamma correction, which assures that your images densities are as they were intended, as well as avoiding washing out colors.
Android and Spyder4
The advanced nature of these measurements, and the wide array of screens in the Android Universe, meant that only the more advanced Spyder4 line of calibrators is sufficiently effective for use under Android. So while Spyder3 will continue to be supported for iOS calibration, Spyder4 (Express, Pro, or Elite) is required for Android calibration.
From the Horse’s Mouth
Long time acquaintance John Nollendorfs tested SpyderGallery for Android, and was quite enthused about the results. Here it is in his own words:
“I’ve had my Nexus 7 for nearly a year, but have been disappointed in its lack of color in the display. Using Spydergallery, the colors now match my Spyder-calibrated desktop screen perfectly! I use my Nexus 7 to show clients images from my shoots in progress. Up to now, I have to explain how the final images will have better color. With Spydergallery, the progress shots on the Nexus pad appear as good as on my desktop calibrated screen.”
Color Management under Other Mobile Applications
Now that SpyderGallery for Android has been released, the next goal will be to provide color management capabilities for other mobile applications under iOS and Android. This will mean that the same type of color improvements you now see in images viewed in the SpyderGallery viewer will also be available in third party image viewing, image editing, and presentation apps. Stay tuned, to find out which applications will offer Spyder-based color management.