Android L includes new display modes for color blind users

The colors used in a gadget UI often seem like an aesthetic choice alone. But for those with color blindness, it can mean the difference between being able to operate a device normally and having a frustrating time using a phone or tablet. Fortunately the next version of Android after KitKat, currently known as Android L, includes new display modes to help users with color vision deficiency to see things more clearly.

Found under Settings > Accessibility in Android L, the Color Space Correction option has six settings for different types of color blindness:

  • Deuteranomaly (red-green)
  • Protanaomaly (red-green)
  • Tritanomaly (blue-yellow)
  • Deuteranopia (green)
  • Protanopia (red)
  • Tritanopia (blue)

The various color correction modes will affect everything you see on your phone or tablet's display, including full-screen content like videos and games. But the color changes won't be shown in any screenshots you take — useful for colorblind users wanting to share screen images with those with normal vision.

Color inversion

Android L also supports color inversion, which can make certain things easier to read for users with vision impairment; like color space correction, this also won't affect how your screenshots turn out. And as in previous versions of the OS, magnification gestures are supported in Android L, allowing users to triple-tap the screen to zoom in and then use two fingers to pan around. Both of these features also live under Settings > Accessibility.

Display adjustments of the kind have been available in Android customizations from phone makers for some time — in Samsung's TouchWiz, for instance, a similar feature is found under Settings > Accessibility > Vision. But it's great to see options like this find their way into the core OS, making Android easier to use for everyone.

More: Hands-on with Android L

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • That's pretty slick. Other than certain gaming situations, my colorblindness has never had a huge impact on my ability to interact with my devices. It's nice to have options that may further improve my experience. Posted via Android Central App
  • Mines pretty bad sadly makes it hard for me sometimes Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5
  • Mine isn't horribly bad either, certain games i would agree I miss things in anything that moves.
    But pretty cool, I turned it on an I'm giving it a go. Colors are definitely more distinctive now to my eyes.
  • This is really awesome! Posted via Android Central App
  • The only time this has been problematic for me was on the HTC EVO LTE. I couldn't tell whether the settings check boxes were ticked or not. I had to use a custom rom to solve that issue, so this is a welcomed addition to Android.
  • That colour inversion quick setting may just salvage android L for me. I'd still prefer a dark theme though! May end up with a custom ROM. Thanks for the coverage! Posted via Android Central App
  • Please post screenshots of each colorscheme Posted via Android Central App
  • It says in the article that if you capture a screenshot it comes out in normal colour. The photos of the phone are the best that can be done. Posted via Android Central App
  • Fantastic. This will really help those that need it. Posted via Android Central App
  • I am a perfect example of somebody with a red-green colour deficiency - so this has got to be good.
    Posted via Android Central App
  • I'll have to wait until I can change my smartphone, but anyway this are great news.
    My colorblindness is not severe, but some apps and games have color based gaming scheme, category codes, shortcuts, and every time more things that are color-code based/aided.
    Sometimes this make using certain smartphone apps a little bit challenging and as I experienced on one or two games just impossible for me to use. I'm happy and looking forward to use this feature
  • I am so excited about this (seriously) Posted by my Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Mine's pretty bad. Thanks Google! Thanks AC for pointing this out.
  • There are a couple of people commenting who are looking forward to having colourblindness issues in games fixed. Sadly, that's not always going to be the case. The technique used here is called daltonisation, it means shifting a problematic colour into a different hue. It only works if you have a very limited colour pallette, eg. red team Vs green team, shifted into orange team Vs blue team. If you have a wider range of colours, it does not work. Shifting red into orange is no help at all if orange is already an important colour. Basically, if you have a system that relies on a larger number colours than you're able to see (as is often the case in mobile games), no amount of juggling colours around will fix it. So while this is a really great thing to include and will help in many circumstances, particularly for ...anomaly, it isn't a silver bullet. Developers still need to be more aware of colourblindness, and design using something else in addition to colour.. for example using a coloured icon on a minimap instead of a coloured dot, or distinguishing objects in a puzzle game by shape or texture as well as colour.