Pantone offers color libraries for iPhone, mostly

Robert Palmer
R. Palmer|09.21.09

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Robert Palmer
September 21, 2009 11:00 AM
Pantone offers color libraries for iPhone, mostly

While it's been in the App Store for the last few days, Pantone is officially launching its color discovery and management app for iPhone today, called myPANTONE.

The Pantone Matching System, among other Pantone products, is the indispensable color system for printers and graphic designers, and it offers a wider gamut of color than traditional process color printing. myPANTONE lets iPhone and iPod touch users discover new and interesting Pantone color combinations, share them, and create palette files suitable for importing in desktop applications.

You can start one of two ways: You can scrub through one of Pantone's color sets, including PMS coated, uncoated and matte colors, Goe, Pastels, and Fashion + Home. You can then drag individual chips into an area below the fanbook display, and build a palette of five colors. You can view each color full-screen, and add tags to colors, too.

Alternatively, you can take a picture with your iPhone (or select an image from Pictures on your iPod touch) and build a palette from the colors in that image.

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myPANTONE exports HTML colors and .ase files (suitable for importing in Adobe CS products). You can also share palettes directly with other myPANTONE users nearby, and also upload them to the website (annoying sound warning), which is very similar to Adobe's Kuler (though it uses Pantone swatches, naturally).

This is all well and good, of course, but for the technical color professional? Meh.

While myPANTONE contains on-board color data in RGB and L*a*b* formats, in a disappointing omission, it does not offer CMYK conversion data (available in Pantone's Color Bridge product). Having an app like this as a quick process build lookup tool would have been invaluable.

In an interview with Andy Hatkoff, Pantone's VP of technical licensing, the company was concerned that including CMYK data while displaying RGB colors on the iPhone's screen would be misleading. Personally, I think people who would spend $10 on an app like this would appreciate having the CMYK values on-board. Hatkoff said that the company may look at offering CMYK data in either an update to myPANTONE or a separate application.

Hatkoff said that the app is purely a "directional and inspirational tool" and isn't suitable for color matching in a production environment. Of course, any designer will tell you that colors displayed on an LCD screen will never look the same as colors on a page, because of the physical difference between emitted and reflected light. A word of caution to graphic designers that have clients with iPhones: Expect your client to show up at your next press check with this app. Plan to bill at least an hour explaining why this app won't help them match color on press.

myPANTONE is a little spendy, at $9.99, so if you're looking for a simple color blending tool, there are many cheaper ones out there (iTunes link). Even so, if you're looking a quick way to assemble Pantone swatches into a small palette, and send it to yourself or a friend, then this app is for you. If you're a printing professional looking for a digital version of your printed Pantone color guides, then you'll be disappointed.

myPANTONE is available in the App Store.

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