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How many colours are in the Mister Icon app?

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I love mathematics.
It's a way of finding order in a chaotic world.
And it can be fun.

Prior to version 3.0 of Mister Icon, the app used to include just 12 different colour options.

For my icon labels, that made things easy. There were 12 background colours for every icon.

The original twelve Mister Icon colours.

Wallpapers were a bit more complicated. The Mister Icon app includes some very simple wallpapers with just a single colour (great for a clean look and easy to match with icons of the same colour), but it also includes several wallpapers with two different colour options (e.g. my left stripe or top stripe wallpapers).

These multi-colour wallpapers require a combination of two of the 12 colours.

So, if you have a mathematical mind, you might wonder: how many standard wallpaper colour combinations are there from just 12 colours?

12 colours and 11 different combinations per colour (only 11, not 12, since you can't for instance, have a blue stripe with a blue background, otherwise it's just a solid blue wallpaper, not a striped wallpaper at all)…

Original 12 Mister Icon colours with Blue Left Stripe
The original twelve Mister Icon colours, each with a Blue Left Stripe.
Note that Blue on Blue doesn't work as it ends up just being solid blue, so there were only eleven actual two-colour combinations for each left stripe colour.

12 x 11 = 132 different colour combinations per two-colour wallpaper.

So when you're scrolling through the ‘standard’ wallpapers in my Mister Icon app, there'll be 132 different colour pairings to scroll through for each of the Left Stripe, Top Stripe, Left Stripe Gradient and Top Stripe Gradient wallpapers.

So that meant there was at least 12 + (132 x 4) = 540 different coloured wallpapers available for most iOS/iPadOS devices with my Mister Icon app. Devices with a ‘notch’ also had additional options for ‘hidden notch’ wallpapers, which doubled the number of available wallpapers to 1080.

Mister Icon thinking about colours

Anyway, that was then. Now the number of colour combinations is almost infinite!

Mister Icon version 3.0 (a free update for all Mister Icon app users) introduced a colour wheel that enables you to select your own custom colours, which can be used for both icon backgrounds and wallpapers.

There is also the ability to enter a hexadecimal colour code, if you know exactly what colour you're looking for. The hexadecimal colour code system uses the numbers 0-9, plus the letters A, B, C, D, E and F. That's a grand total of 16 different characters for each of 6 ‘digits’.

Colours range from #000000 (black) to #FFFFFF (white), with each pair of digits corresponding to red, green or blue.

16 x 16 x 16 x 16 x 16 x 16 = 16^6 = 16,777,216


256 x 256 x 256 = 16,777,216

So that means there are more than 16 million different colours in the hexadecimal system, and you can now choose any of of them you like for your icon backgrounds AND your wallpapers.

For single-colour wallpapers, that means you now have the option of the same 16,777,216 different colours as the icon backgrounds.

And for a wallpaper containing two different colours, that means the number of different colour combinations for that wallpaper is now:

16,777,216 x 16,777,215 = 281,474,959,933,440 = 2.8 x 10^14

That's more than 281 trillion different colour combinations for any wallpaper with two different colours.

Currently, my Mister Icon app running on a modern iPhone X series device (any iPhone without a physical home button) offers eight different two colour wallpaper options and two different single colour wallpaper options.

So that means, for an iPhone X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max, the total possible number of wallpapers that can be created with the app is:

Equation totalling 2.25 x 10^15

So that means more than 2.25 quadrillion different wallpapers suitable for iPhone can be generated from the Mister Icon app!

Obviously, it would never be practical to scroll through all these different wallpapers one by one, so version 3.0 of the app introduced the ability to construct ‘Custom Wallpapers’ from a list of 36 preset colour swatches and custom colour schemes you've added yourself. If you like scrolling through the 132 combinations of the original 12 colours, then you can still do that too with the ‘Standard Wallpapers’ option.

And, don't forget that the Mister Icon app can also be used on different iPhone models, iPads and iPod touches too.

I could try calculating the number of wallpapers possible with all those different devices as well, but I'm tired out.

Maths can be exhausting!

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