If Sherwin-Williams' entry into the color-specifier-for-iPhone market left me rather cold yesterday, I was warmed right back up by Benjamin Moore's more usable variation on that theme, ben. Ben's unveiling was delayed by a week or so, but it was worth the wait.
Clearly, Benjamin Moore spent a lot more money on the development and roll-out of ben and I think it was money well-spent. Ben is a very well thought out app and one I'm sure I will use in my day to day life.
Ben suffers from the same camera limitations that Sherwin-Williams' ColorSnap does and ben also failed my take-a-photo-of-a-color-chip test. If you missed my review of ColorSnap yesterday, I took a photo of a Sherwin-Williams color chip and tried to have ColorSnap identify the color correctly. ColorSnap couldn't do it. Well neither can ben, and I think that's a camera shortcoming more than an app shortcoming. I'll be interested to see how these apps fare in a similar test with the better camera coming in the new iPhones. We'll see.
Once it's loaded, it lands on a start screen that allows you to select between taking a photo or retrieving a photo from your phone's archives.
I selected a photo of a brightly-colored floor tile.
Once the photo's selected and imported (a process that takes a few seconds at most), you can zoom or crop the imported photo any way you'd like.
Here's the zoomed in image of the tile pattern.
So now that my photo's zoomed, cropped and active; all I need to do is touch anywhere on the photo and ben matches what ever color I'm touching to one of the 3,000 colors in Benjamin Moore's palette.
When I touch the blue in the lower left quadrant of this photo, ben matches it to Benjamin Moore's 2067-20, Starry Night Blue. Ben's also showing a virtual fan deck along the bottom of the page. If I click on any one of those color blocks, I get a full-screen view of the color with the virtual fan deck still below the main color..
When I tap Starry Night Blue for the second time, I get a true full-screen view with no visual distractions.
If I tap the screen twice, I go back to the photo where I started. Now, I can touch anywhere on my photo and get an instantaneous color match. Here's the blue-gray color below the black bar in the upper right quadrant.
Here's the purple in the lower right quadrant.
The yellow from the upper left quadrant.
And here's the black from the lower right quadrant.
What's most amazing to me is the speed with which this app does this color matching. It's pretty cool and it's pretty spot on when it's looking at an archived photo.
Ben also has an interactive color wheel as a completely separate function as well a store locator that uses the iPhone's onboard GPS. The whole package is pretty slick and packs a real technological punch into a free app. I'm very fond of Sherwin-Williams and I specify colors from their palette more than any other. With that said though, I declare Benjamin Moore's ben the winner of the iPhone app paint specifier battle.
Hats off to both companies for their embrace of new technology and I can't wait to see what's next. Finally, I'll pose the question again: what's a Blackberry?