What are the most popular iPhone app icon colors? With Icon Rainbow, now you know

Take Portland-based Icon Rainbow (@iconrainbow), a new project that analyzes iPhone app icon colors and tells you which colors are currently the most popular.

[HTML1]One of the things I love most about this whole Web thing is that if you take creative people and give them access to data? They’ll come up with some pretty interesting ways to munge that data and represent it in really beautiful ways.

Take Portland-based Icon Rainbow (@iconrainbow), a new project from Ryan Snyder (@ryansnyder) and Crystal Beasley (@skinny) that analyzes iPhone app icon colors and tells you which colors are currently the most popular.

The Icon Rainbow (@iconrainbow) is a color analyzer for iPhone app icons. In the first iteration, we fetched a subset of iPhone app icons and grabbed the color for every single pixel in each of the images. We then determined which colors were most prominent in each app’s icon, in each app category, and also in the entire icon subset.

And what they’ve found might surprise you. Like the fact that blue is not the most popular color—at least in the initial subset they’ve chosen. Beige is, currently. I hear taupe is very soothing.

But it’s more than a list. Not only does Icon Rainbow allow you to see the top colors overall, it allows you to slice and dice the list by application type. Need more detail? Clicking on any color takes you on a deep dive to see a swath of the app icons that employ that color, all the types of applications that use it, and the color’s popularity by app type.

More visually oriented? You’re going to love Icon Rainbow’s spectrum menu. No. I mean, really. Just click on any of the colors running along the top of the site and you’ll jump directly to the details on that particular color. Or just randomly click along to get a smattering of interesting colors and apps.

But what about the converse? I mean, what if you want to know which colors appear in a particular icon? No worries. They’ve got you covered. Simply click on any icon and you’ll get a listing of all the colors in the icon, the name of the app, and the category in which it falls. Then, of course, you can dive into each of those colors separately.

That’s right. Completely awesome time sink. And not bad for two days of effort.

But so what? What’s the utility? Well, there are several ways you could use it. Especially if you’re designing iPhone apps. What if you want an icon that stands out from the majority? Well, you could look for some of the least used colors in Icon Rainbow and choose those for your icon. What if you see an icon that really seems to work? You can use Icon Rainbow to determine the HEX values that the icon employs—and maybe emulate that palette yourself.

Or you could exercise your mouse finger by just sitting there clicking and clicking and clicking like me. I like shiny objects. So sue me.

Even if you couldn’t care less about iPhone or iPad apps, Icon Rainbow is well worth some of your time—if only to see a beautiful representation of an incredibly interesting data set.

For more information or to try it yourself, visit Icon Rainbow. But be forewarned, you’re going to get sucked into it. So go ahead. Get your HEX on.

  1. Hey Rick-

    I love this site! It’s a great help for icon development which happens to be a big part of my job. What an awesome idea for a tool! It was exactly what I was looking for. One question though… why have “colors with saturation and brightness values of < 20%" been excluded?

    Thanks again!

  2. […] What are the most popular iPhone app icon colors? With Icon Rainbow, now you know […]

  3. […] Elsewhere SiliconFlorist: What are the most popular iPhone app icon colors? With Icon Rainbow, now you know RyanSnyder.me: Hey, ho, it’s the Icon […]

  4. MarketingGuru May 14, 2010 at 7:32 am

    The colors all depend on the app itself. You don’t put dark colors for a children game

  5. It’s funny, I’m thinking to myself that Icon Rainbow is exactly the stuff I like to see on Silicon Florist. New projects from folks in PDX. So, I’m left wondering what sparked that outburst.

    But, it was probably only a matter of time. I’ve heard the rumblings, and I’m guilty myself of rumbling. When you see the Nth post on a certain company, you’re left thinking “enough.” But, you know what, they’re killing it, so who’s to say it’s not completely deserved. If you want to complain, I tell myself and would tell others, go out and build something that people can and want to use and all the rest falls into place. I’m also as curious as anyone about the juicy/rumor/critic stuff that doesn’t get published, but I can respect that Rick has kept this blog positive from the get to. Like others have said, start a new blog if that’s what you want to see.

    So, go out build cool things, fun things, useful things and I look forward to reading about all of them here.

  6. Katherine Gray May 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    1. Rick Turoczy is not a reporter. He’s a blogger. This is his blog. This site is about what interests him. It is not a watchdog, it is not platform for analysis. There are lots of other outlets to get that. Rick is not a critic, at least not here. You have to take him out for drinks to get that, and then you may get more than you bargained for. (I say that with all my love and admiration, Rick.)

    2. Rick Turoczy is not a reporter. So the full story of IconRainbow isn’t actually here. This post, I presume, was put together based on tweets, a blog post, and Rick’s experience with the app itself, per his usual MO. This is Crystal Beasley’s project, conceived from her passion for color patterns and color forecasting. She enlisted the help of her good friend, Ryan Snyder, to build it. How do I know? I sat next to them as they built this. We work in the same co-working space.

    I hope Crystal gets a forum to tell the story her full vision. Or maybe she should just blog about it herself (hint hint, girl).

    Myself, I couldn’t be more excited to see two people whose work I respect, whose passions I admire, come together and make something awesome, much like they did with FoodGeeks.com (Ryan’s gig, Crystal supported him with design).

    There’s an interview idea: How two awesome people come together and supporting each others’ ideas, build cool shit in record time, and remain good friends. I am in awe of them.

    To Rick: Thanks for caring so much about this community. That’s all I expect of you.

  7. I am neither a designer nor an app developer, but I find Icon Rainbow pretty fascinating. Any tool for taking a closer look at a platform as popular as the App Store is valuable and interesting.

    Crystal and Ryan, can’t wait to hear about the next cool thing you two do. Rick, ignore the trolls and carry on. 🙂

  8. Or perhaps JUMPING THE SHARK has jumped the shark?

  9. When we have a TheRealFakeTheRealNotRickTuroczy, has…something…jumped the shark? 🙂

  10. @Crystal: Happy to crack up yo shit. Don’t miss Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy”.

  11. Hey! That’s my pointless site you’re talking about!

    I hardly know where to start. Thanks to all who’ve chimed in to defend the worth of iconrainbow.com. It was built primarily as a tool for designers to get inspiration for their projects. I’m a designer and most all projects start for me in figuring out the color palette. The site is eye candy.

    But Ryan and I have plans to take things much further. It also will be an alternative way to visualize the most popular, newest, etc apps on the iphone app store in the next iteration. After we have a few months of data collected, we’ll be analyzing that data for color trends. In short, the best is yet to come.

    I don’t know what information the anonymous commenters are basing their accusations on, but I didn’t pay Rick any form of kickback to cover my project. Hell, I didn’t even ask him to. I just sent him a tweet the day before with a link to the site and Ryan’s blog post about it. I was truly surprised and grateful that he took the time to use and understand my site and write such a kind post.

    Lastly, Jake… you crack my shit up. Now I gotta go listen to that song.


  12. David H Stannard May 12, 2010 at 6:53 am


    Portland does need people to promote the local companies and use different approaches. Personally I commend you for taking the initiative and contributing. You are highly involved in the Portland community which I believe appreciates the support and visibility.

    Even though I don’t expect everything that you ‘cover’ to be of interest to me, I find the initial comments show that it is easy to criticize; to react and hit the ‘submit’ button. Constructive criticism is harder though. Contributing is even harder. The latter two require thinking, clear communications and generally mean there is some latency between reading and ‘submit’.

    Keep up the great work!


  13. Whatevr. IconRainbow is gay.

  14. TheRealFakeTheRealNotRickTuroczy May 11, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    That last commenter is a fraud trading on my good name. Pay him no mind.

  15. FakeTheRealNotRickTuroczy May 11, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    IconRainbow is cool. I just wish people would stop impersonating the person that I’m really not.

  16. I was trying to figure out “No Trick Turoczy” for several minutes before I realized it was “Not Rick Turoczy”. I guess I’m a little slow today.

  17. Look, if you feel you’ve been slighted, for chrissake, take it up with Rick personally. Anonymous comments are the lamest form of self-expression. Have something meaningful to contribute, then by all means, let it be known. Don’t like something? Fine. But don’t hide behind your coy screen name, or worse, the “anonymous” tag that will likely follow you around for life. Do something and let others do their thing, whatever it is.

    I like this project and I like the fact that Silicon Florist has always stretched its boundaries to include projects in and around the “tech community”. So what if the project isn’t meaningful to each and every person reading? SF is about local projects, Portland is a small place, and sure, there are bound to be friends who are spotlighted from time to time. It’s a goddammed blog. About local projects.

    Don’t let a couple of little voices alter your course with these posts, Rick. Keep them coming. My interests are likely very different from those of “anonymous”. And granted, I realize someone will disagree with what I’ve added here. That’s good. The difference, however, is that they know who I am and where they can find me. Let me know. I welcome the discourse. As long as I know with whom I’m speaking.

  18. Jeff Hardison May 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Fakenotrickturoczy, thanks for responding to everyone’s feedback in a sensitive manner. Not easy, particularly when you’re overworked.

  19. I think that people who are deeply technical might find this post fluffy, but for those who like design, this is awesome.
    Color is important. It’s good for designers to have something like this, and also, people, they only took 2 days to develop this.
    2 days! That’s all. That’s interesting in and of itself.

  20. What’s an alter ego to do when some tired, overworked meatpuppet steals their fake identity?

    If *I* were going to complain about something, it would be how I’m not getting *enough* kickbacks from my friends to promote their frivolous sideprojects. Cut me in dudes, and then you’ll see what real bias looks like.

    *My* meatpuppet will promote anything that crosses his desk without even so much as a quid pro quo: Sluticon Florist, I call him!

  21. Notrickturoczy May 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Ok, I admit it. I went over the line. Long days lately and I’m tired and for that I’m sorry. However, I would like to see a more balanced approach to coverage. It’d be great to see a more commercially oriented site that covers all tech news in Portland. Opportunity awaits.

  22. They see me bloggin
    They hatin
    Commentin they tryin to catch me smellin dirty
    Tryin to catch me smellin dirty
    Tryin to catch me smellin dirty
    Tryin to catch me smellin dirty
    Tryin to catch me smellin dirty

  23. Jeff Hardison May 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Anonymous and Notrickturoczy,

    Could you please point me to your blogs at which you write about tech-related things going on in Portland?

    That’s one of the great things about owning your own URL and not charging people to read your blog: You can talk about anything you please. Or you can decide not to blog for a couple days. Maybe spend time with loved ones who provide you feedback that’s not anonymous. Perhaps do some work for that other job — you know the full-time one — that pays.

    And, no, before you go there, Rick hasn’t written about anything I’ve worked on lately, but he doesn’t have to because he doesn’t owe me, nor anybody else in town, anything.

    (Now, I’ve really done it.)

    I’m not saying this to upset you, Anonymous and Notrickturoczy; I’m just doing this because I love you guys. Hurts me more than it hurts you and stuff.

  24. I like shiny objects too, Rick.

    Beige surprises me. Such a boring color.

    What’s with the hecklers? They take this stuff pretty damn seriously, don’t they?

  25. I don’t know what “normally” passes for news on Silicon Florist since I’ve just moved here three weeks ago, but articles on startups, projects, and creations of all types interest me, as well as resources for like-minded people. Hope to make it to the B&B/Timbers game on Thursday to meet a few.

  26. Why allow anonymous comments on your blog? You tweeted about taking the comments to heart, but an anonymous comment carries a tiny fraction of the weight of a comment backed by a real identity.

  27. I live how the nastiest comments are always anonymous. If you’re going to through down stand up and be counted.

  28. When I think back to the time before Silicon Florist existed, I am sad. I think it’s added a lot to the PDX tech scene. Don’t let them harsh your mellow Rick.

    That said, we should all be on a quest for value and continuous improvement keeps the h8rs at bay.

    Hang in there 😉


  29. notrickturoczy May 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I actually tend to think the icon site is kind of cool. No, I don’t see much utility in it, but one obvious thing about the post, Silicon Florist, and the Portland scene in general is glaringly clear – it is completely obvious who Mr. Turoczy’s favorites are. It smacks of amateurism at its finest and wouldn’t be complete without his merry band of all-too-frequent posts about side-projects involving his friends. The worst part about it is that Turoczy claims to be indifferent as long as it’s Portland. Meh.

    Rick – take a moment to look outside your bubble and find the other cool stuff in town and in the Northwest. You’re not doing yourself or anyone around you any good.

  30. With all due respect, this sounds like the most pointless site ever. I mean, really…this is what is passing for news on Silicon Florist these days? If this is the most interesting thing coming out of our web tech economy, we have a lot to be worried about. Pack up shop and move now, cuz Portland is going downhill.

    Rick, if you had your nose any farther up the asses of your favorite local folks, we’d have to tie a rope around your ankles to get you out.

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