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Google Photos brings Real Tone to more Android phones with a selection of new filters

Google highlights skin tone equity
(Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • Google debuted the Monk Skin Tone Scale at its I/O 2022 developer conference.
  • The scale will promote skin tone equity throughout Google Search and other products.
  • Real Tone is now available on Android phones outside of Pixel devices, enhanced by the Monk Skin Tone Scale.

Real Tone has been one of the best features of Google's latest Pixel smartphones, allowing the cameras to better perceive darker skin tones. This feature is now coming to other Android phones through Google Photos alongside the new Monk Skin Tone Scale.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the official Android account announced that the best Android phones are now gaining access to Real Tone filters that are evaluated using the Monk Skin Tone Scale. These filters are arriving on Google Photos, allowing users to enhance their photos to better reflect a variety of skin tones, particularly for people of color.

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The Monk Skin Tone Scale is an open-source project developed by Harvard professor and sociologist Dr. Ellis Monk, consisting of ten diverse shades meant to represent a wider range of skin tones. Because it's open-source, developers have access to the scale to use on various projects and products. Google intends to do just that, using AI and machine learning across Search to help users find more inclusive results based on their skin tone.

Google Search using Monk Skin Tone Scale

(Image credit: Google)

We've already noticed the new filters arrive on the Google Photos editor, including Playa, Honey, Isla, Desert, and Clay filters. Selecting any of them will display a "Made with Real Tone" tag, and you can, of course, adjust the strength of each filter.

As someone with darker skin, I've already played around with the filters, and I can already see the benefits of bringing Real Tone to more phones, even through the Google Photos app. While I may not be a fan of the Pixel camera system for its lack of certain features, it's often the first I choose if I need a quick picture or selfie, mainly because of the AI and how well it portrays my skin. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for many other Android phones, so these new filters should be a big step towards better selfies.

The new filters are available on Google Photos across Android, iOS, and the web.


Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.