There are thousands of colors an App Store icon can be … so why does it so often look like developers only had half a box of crayons to choose from when we look at our iPhones?
But App Store iconography may be more colorful than it seems at first. Don’t believe me? These color wheels show exactly how dominant certain colors are in the icons of the most successful apps.
Stuart Hall from Appbot was curious about the color metrics for popular iOS app icons, so he coded up a way to automatically extract the dominant colors from the icons of popular apps, then map them to a color wheel. The size of each App Store icon references its position in the charts.
You can see above what the Top 200 Free iOS Apps chart looks like. For the most part, most successful paid apps have blue or red apps, with a smattering of green ones in there just to screw with the symmetry. Snapchat, with its yellow ghost icon, is one of the few outliers from the red-blue dichotomy.
Next, Hall ran his algorithm against the Top 200 Paid iOS Apps and found that, in general, the icons used more colors than free apps. Games also used a spectrum of rarer colors, due to the more complex icons they tend to boast.
Hall also addresses some stereotypes when it comes to app icon colors. For example, it’s a trope that all social networking apps are blue, but if anything, the color wheel says social networking apps actually have a diverse range of icons, and favor green more than most other apps.
But Hall couldn’t bust the notion that all Mac app icons are blue: It turns out they really are!
What you make of this data is up to you. If you’re a developer, maybe this will influence you to make your next App Store icon puce … or maybe you’ll decide blue is a safer bet.