Whether you use your iPhone to add graphics to a document, edit a photo or sketch an idea, color plays an important role in making your work look good. Apple’s iOS 14 update introduces a system-wide color picker that lets you choose the exact color you want, save it in your favorite colors, and use it in a variety of apps to add that special touch to your work.
System-wide color pickers have been a part of desktop operating systems for a long time, and with iOS 14, the iPhone gets a real one. Before iOS 12, you could only choose from a few limited colors in Markup across the entire system, but then we got a decent color picker that contained 120 shades, shades and shades of colors to choose from in a grid. We still have the 120 options, but it is now more robust.
IOS 14 Color Picker gives you several tools to choose the exact color you want, whether it’s a color from a palette, one from an existing image, or using RGB / hex color values. You can even select colors from a spectrum chart rather than a grid, and you can change the opacity of the color. Once you have selected your color, you can save it in a list of favorites that you can use in your apps.
Third-party developers can integrate the ColorPicker structure into their own apps if they do not want to build their own user interface. So if you paint in an app that is not from Apple, you can very well see the same color picker as in Markup.
Meet the new color picker
The color editor in iOS 14 has four main sections that we will cover:
Function 1: Swallow and swatches
The large square at the bottom left is the color well, which shows your currently selected color. Next to the color well are your swatches, which allow you to switch between black, the four primary shades (blue, green, red, yellow) and your saved colors. You can save as many colors as you want and can swipe horizontally to move between pages.
To add the color from the color well to your swatches, tap the plus (+) icon in the color list. If you have ten or more swatches in portrait orientation, or eight or more in landscape orientation, the “+” button will appear on the last page.
To delete a sample, press and hold it, and after a while a “Delete” button will appear. tap it to remove the swatch from the list. While iOS automatically lists black and the four primary shades as swatches, they can still be deleted if you like.
Function 2: Opacity Slider
The opacity slider changes the opacity of the selected color. You can move the slider from 0% to 100%, with zero being completely transparent and 100 being completely opaque. If you have trouble getting an exact opacity, you can press the percentage and enter it using the keyboard.
When you move the slider, the color is updated well and shows what your chosen color looks like on both a black and white background. It’s a nice touch so you always know how transparency will end up.
Note that third-party developers can remove the opacity slider from their apps if they use the ColorPicker structure, so if you do not see the slider, that’s probably why.
Function 3: pipette
Use the eyedropper tool to select an exact color from an image on the screen. This can be useful if you want to match a color of the current document or one from another file. It is also useful if you see a color you like and want to save it for later.
To get started, press (or press and hold) the eyedropper icon at the top left of the color picker. The color editor will be minimized and the eyedropper tool will appear, which looks like a circle with a grid inside. It enlarges the image below it so that you can accurately select a color even if it is barely visible in the file.
Drag the circle to the color of the screen you want to select. When you pull the pipette, the outer ring is updated with the color in the center of the grid that is currently in focus. When you lift your finger, the color editor slides up and the color is well updated with your color.
To select a color from an app that does not have a color picker, take a screenshot, then tap it to access Markup. The color picker will be in the selection tools so you can choose colors anywhere on your iPhone.
Function 4: Color selector
The color editor has three different layouts for choosing colors. The control above the color selectors allows you to switch between grid, spectrum and slider. Each selector has advantages and disadvantages and different differences between user-friendliness and precision.
- GRID: This picker is the easiest to use, with different colors in a grid. It is the one that has been around since iOS 12. The trade-off is that you can not choose a color that is not in the box with 120 colors, which limits how accurate you can be.
- Spectrum: This picker is similar to Grid but more accurate, so you are not limited to just 120 shades, shades and shades. Colors blend into each other and you can drag your finger over them to refine the color you want. The disadvantage of Spectrum is that even if it is accurate, it can not choose an exact color and not choose grayscale at all.
- Slider: This picker is the opposite of Grid when it comes to ease of use. The trade-off, however, is that you can circle exactly the color you are looking for. You can select specific RGB color values, either by using the sliders or entering the values. Or you can enter hex values, both in the Display P3 and sRGB color space. To switch between the color spaces, press the blue “Hex color #” text next to the hex value to open a menu where you can select one or the other.
While each color picker is useful in its own way, they create even more opportunities to use them together. Each selector is always updated to reflect what is in the color, so you can, for example, select a color in Grid and then skip to Spectrum to adjust it. Or, if you use the eyedropper to select a color, the sliders update with their RGB and Hex values, so you can use that color on other devices.
Color pickers can be a powerful but intimidating tool. But by taking the time to learn about the updated tool, it can help you use colors on iOS 14 like a pro.
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