Google Photos Adds Real Tone Filters Based On Monk Scale

Google Photos Real Tone Filters

Google Photos is rolling out new Real Tone filters that let you better represent your skin tone color in images. The new skin tone filters will be available to users on Android and iOS mobile apps as well as the Photos web client.

Google first announced this feature for Photos at its I/O 2022 developer conference earlier this month. The company said its photo sharing and storage service will get the new Real Tone filters “later this month”. The promised rollout has now begun.

Once you have the feature, you can apply the filters to any existing photo. The feature uses the Monk Skin Tone Scale, which was released at I/O 2022 too, to evaluate the skin tone of the person in the photo and apply the filter that best reflects your true skin tone color. The filters adjust the contrast of the photo for more lifelike skin tones and shades. You can manually control the intensity of filters to get the desired results.


When you select a Real Tone filter in the photo editor, you will see an overlaid text saying “Made with Real Tone”. Of course, the text will not appear on the edited image. According to Google, these filters are “designed by professional image-makers to work well across skin tones, so you can choose the filter that reflects your style.”

Google Photos gains Real Tone filters

Real Tone isn’t an entirely new feature. Google’s latest Pixel phones have these filters built into the camera app. This enables you to capture your skin tone more accurately. But since not everyone uses Pixel phones, the company is adding the feature to Photos so that users can enhance their images with Real Tone filters in its photo sharing and storage app.

As said earlier, Real Tone uses the Monk Scale for evaluating skin tones. It is an open-source library of ten human skin tones and shades aimed at making machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) able to better interpret the wide variety of human colors, making technologies more inclusive. The scale was developed by Harvard professor and sociologist Dr. Ellis Monk, who has studied human skin tone and colorism for more than ten years.


Open-sourcing of the Monk Scale could allow other manufacturers to develop similar skin tone filters directly into the camera app. But for the time being, non-Pixel users will have to rely on Google Photos for such filters.