You may have noticed that some colours appear different when documents are viewed on iPads or iPhones. This is because the colour range of these devices is smaller than a typical monitor. When you view files such as images or PDFs, they are displayed using the device’s colour range not that originally set in the document. This can be important when you need to proof a job electronically. This is the same kind of colour management issue that causes colours to shift when a document is printed.
Viewing colour accurately on mobile devices is tricky with some mobile operating systems (such as Android) not honouring ICC profiles at all whilst others, (such as iOS) have a very different colour range from other RGB devices.
If your mobile device supports ICC profiles, you can predict and preview how the colours will change.
First you will need a profile for your mobile device. In this example I’m going to use an iPad. Bob Bringhurst at Adobe created an iPad profile for users of Digital Publishing Suite. After downloading it, Mac users can copy it to the /Library/ColorSync/Profiles/iPad.icc folder, Windows users should search for Color Management and use the All Profiles tab to install.
The profile can be used by any application that honours ICC colour profiles. In this example I’m using InDesign. To preview possible colour shifts, go to View>Proof Setup>Custom. Choose iPad.icc from the drop down menu next to Device to Simulate.
InDesign Proof Setup
Select iPad colour profile
This tells InDesign to use the iPad profile to display the document colours. By selecting the Proof Colours menu option, you should be able to detect colour shifts in the currently open document.
It’s a good idea to turn this on and off quickly to see the changes. If you need to do this a lot, it’s worth assigning a keyboard shortcut to the menu item.
To create a PDF with colours optimised for iPad, you can create a new PDF preset.
Go to File>Adobe PDF Presets>Create.
Select Create form the Adobe PDF Presets menu
Select an existing preset that’s close to the output you require then click new.
Select an existing preset
This duplicates that profile and you can now customise it. Make any adjustments you need on any pane then go to Output. From the Color Conversion option choose Convert to Destination. Choose iPad.icc as the destination profile. All colour data in the document will be converted into the iPad colour range on output.
Choose a colour profile
Name and save the preset. To output the file using the new preset, select File>Adobe PDF Presets> [newpresetname]. InDesign will generate the PDF as specified.
Select Adobe PDF Preset
To see exactly the difference between the iPad colour profile and standard RGB (or between any colour profiles for that matter) you can use the ColorSync Utility found in the Applications>Utilities folder on a Mac.
iPad colour profile viewed in ColorSync
Comparison of sRGB and iPad Colour profiles using ColorSync
Note that the iPad profile is smaller than sRGB but is also differently shaped so has a different colour range especially in the blue region of the spectrum.