| In-Depth Review

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.

Product: myPantone

Company: Pantone

List Price: $9.99



Easy to learn, includes nine Pantone color guides with color values, shares color palettes, matches Pantone colors to photos.

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Pantone’s system doesn’t work. Period. Due to the exact same comments noted above… different lighting, and even slight differences in paper and inks in the pantone books themselves. Calibration is pointless, because it still doesn’t remove the underlying problem with the system.

Basically, this app works the same as all Pantone products, it’s an attractive color sample palette that makes it marginally easier to get relatively close colors in different mediums. The only way to get a printer to match your color exactly is to give him a sample color chip… which is why pantone books started shipping with tear out chips. Giving a pantone value will get you close, but worrying about any finer detail without a sample is pointless. Use this app to select colors you like, but don’t worry about them being perfectly tuned in all media. They won’t be.


Stuff like this, especially at $10, is better than saying, “a sage-y kind of green” or “turquoise.” English does not have the words for conveying color to the degree that the Pantone system succeeds.
I’m not a print or design professional. I know when a color is wrong. Being able to convey a close proximity to the blue I want is a lot easier with systems like this.

@mahuti - There’s something to be said about the final input device, the human eye, making the system fail too. There are some colors that I say are blue that others say are purple. Is it a definition problem or problem of perception? Spectral analysis (“how much red is really in that blue?”) may provide a wavelength definition of a given color, but the eye and brain provide ultimate judgment.


Yeah my beef is less with Pantone than with people that give too much creedence to it, or expect a guaranteed result based on it.

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