Confession: I'm one of those people who actually hired someone to line sit for me for two days in front of the Apple Store to get one of the first iPhones. And the next year, I upgraded to the 16 meg phone so that I would have plenty of room for apps, which for me held the promise of having everything I need in the palm of my hand as I race around town for my design clients.
With 88 apps on my phone, I pretty much have almost everything I need - my client database, a level, a clinometer, rulers and calipers, a protractor, unit converters, shipment trackers, geo-locator apps, and a fair sampling of e-books and games to keep me occupied should I get stuck in an elevator cut off from the world for a few hours.
I also have quite a few color apps, more than I need and more than I use. However, as someone who is totally bewitched by color and the endless possibilities that color offers in interior design, I figure you can never have too many of those. But, I was still waiting for the perfect color app. So I was excited a few weeks ago to read on Benjamin Moore senior interior designer Sonu Mathew's blog, that the company whose paints I spec most often was releasing a color app of its own.
It finally became available on Monday and I tested it, comparing it to my other color apps, through the wee hours of the morning. The bottom line is that I'm still searching for the perfect color app, but one of these may meet your needs. Here's the lowdown.
I'm not sure that Benjamin Moore's ColorCapture app is ready for prime time. It's a very slow launch and seems to have a few serious bugs, such as your workspace disappearing and occasional freezes. Like many color apps, it starts with the assumption that you want to match a color, either already in your photo album or in a new photo that you take from the "capture" screen. Unlike Sherwin Williams' Color Snap, a similar app, choosing your key color from the photo by tapping is hit or miss and often takes a few tries to grab the color you want. Color Snap, by comparison, uses an arrow cursor with an enlarged view of the target pixel that you can drag around the screen, making it very easy to hit the exact color.
Interestingly, when I took a new photo, a small object on a large Benjamin Moore color swatch, ColorCapture missed by a mile trying to match the color swatch. However, once that photo was saved to an album and I repeated the process choosing the saved photo, its performance improved, but wasn't perfect. Color Snap hit the color dead on using both methods, perhaps because it saves the photo before it allows you to target the color.
ColorCapture generates a harmonizing palette of 4 or 5 colors from a broad spectrum, and a strip of darker and lighter values. Importantly, it also gives you the flexibility to select another color in the palette as your key color and a shake of the iPhone will bring up new palettes. However, it only saves the key color from the palette. ColorSnap on the other hand offers just one simple three-color palette, but saves the entire color scheme, and the developers have thoughtfully provided RGB values so you can easily move the colors into a computer-based design program.
Both apps have retail store locators that utilize GPS. ColorSnap warns you that you are exiting the app to find a store, but Color Capture doesn't. A "Ben" button at the top of ColorCapture's locator screen doesn't take you back to the app's functions as you would expect, but rather, is just a drop down ad.
ColorCapture also includes a rudimentary color wheel, but I'm not sure why. There doesn't seem to be any way to move your key color into the color wheel without selecting it again from the wheel - no quick task with the hit or miss fingertip at work. Both apps would be vastly improved as palette generators with the additional ability to directly enter a specific paint color as your key color, and ColorCapture's color wheel could be really useful if you then could choose the section of the wheel from which you wanted harmonizing colors.
Both of these apps are free and have their strengths. But neither comes close to being a fully functional color app for design such as Color Expert or my personal favorite, Palettes. When it comes to interior design, I don't know how many people pick the key paint color in their scheme from a photo. But I do know that many people, including many professionals, will pull paint colors from a multi-colored fabric or need to match paint colors from a logo when working on commercial interiors.
While Palettes will let you choose a single pixel in an image, it also can capture up to 25 colors from a single source - photo, web page, computer image, CSS file or third party palette. It generates a swatch palette comprising all of the captured colors, which you can manipulate with drag and drop ease to test out key colors, as well as blends, and monochromatic, analogous, complementary, triadic and split complimentary color schemes. Rather than have the app dictate the fleshed out color scheme from a single target color, Palettes gives you a lot of control over the scheme and the number of colors used and saves all of the colors in your workspace.
What Palettes lacks is the simple functionality of both ColorCapture and Color Snap when it comes to interior design: the ability to match paint colors to your scheme. Palettes makes it easy for you to email or export your schemes in a variety of common application formats and so my work-around has been to export the scheme as a Photoshop palette and then match it to a paint color using the free downloadable Photoshop palettes available from the Benjamin Moore web site.
It works, but I'm still searching for that perfect iPhone color app.