Finding the right colors for your project, and then picking colors that work well with your choice, can be a little intimidating. Pantone's myPantone app for the iPhone can help with that, and it works as a great color reference for designers, too.
myPantone is an application that puts Pantone's color reference libraries in the palm of your hand. Designers have been using those reference libraries for years to ensure the colors they expect to see in their finished work are really the colors they get. Pantone manages to pull that trick off by creating custom color mixes and making reference books that identify each one, complete with color values for on-screen viewing, too.
myPantone lets you browse through Pantone color guides
The myPantone app takes those color books and packs them into your iPhone. The app includes Pantone's PMS solid coated, uncoated and matte guides, GoeGuide coated and uncoated guides, Fashion+Hone cotton and paper guides, and Pastel coated and uncoated guides. The guides alone make myPantone a useful tool for designers that can't afford Pantone's printed guides, or want a quick reference guide in their pocket.
Selecting a color from any of the built-in guides shoes the color name, Pantone reference number, RGB color values, L*a*b values, and HTML color code. You can also see similar colors, and other colors that fit well with your choice.
Chip pages show similar colors and custom color palettes
If you like a color, you can add it to a palette for later reference. Palettes can include up to five color swatches. Your palettes can be shared wirelessly with other myPantone users, via email, and through Pantone's Web site, and they import into Adobe's Creative Suite applications.
The application also lets you take photos with the iPhone's built-in camera and loads up a palette with the five most dominant colors. This is especially handy if you find a color you want to include in a project, but don't have any way to identify its Pantone values.
With myPantone's long list of useful features, it's hard to imagine any problems with the app, but there's a big one: Accurately displaying color. Since you can't calibrate the iPhone's display, there isn't any way to ensure that the colors you see on screen are the same as what you're expecting.
myPantone can find the dominant colors in your photos
Some iPhones, for example, have a blue cast to the display and others have a more yellow cast. The color shift might look subtle, but it makes a big difference in how colors appear.
The colors myPantone finds in images are affected by lighting, too, so you'll get different results depending on your light source. That Achilles heal makes myPantone useful for quick color referencing and looking up color values, but nearly useless as a tool in a color managed workflow.
The Bottom Line
Pantone's myPantone app is easy to learn and use, and includes plenty of useful information for people that need to reference Pantone's standardized color system. Its ability to build palettes from colors in your photos is sure to excite graphic designer's clients, and it's handy as a starting point for picking out project colors.
The inability to color calibrate the iPhone's display, however, limits the app's usefulness in color critical environments when using the built-in photo color picker. Despite that limitation, I find myPantone to be a great tool for selecting colors, brainstorming color ideas, and referencing Pantone color values.