Dark Mode – What Is It, and Why Do We Need It? | TechAhead
User Experience

Dark Mode – What Is It,
and Why Do We Need It?

By Deepak Sinha / 2458 Views / May 29, 2019

Dark Mode – What Is It, and Why Do We Need It?

What is Dark Mode?

Dark Mode is a supplemental mode that can be used to display mostly dark surfaces on the UI. The design reduces the light emitted by device screens while maintaining the minimum color contrast ratios required for readability. The advantages of Dark Mode are, it enhances visual ergonomics by reducing eye strain, facilitating screens to adjust according to current light conditions and providing comfort of use at night or in dark environments. Additionally, it conserves battery power, thereby enabling device usage for longer periods without charging.

Usually, the Dark Mode theme can be turned off or on using a prominently displayed toggle icon on the screen. Alternatively, it is placed in the menu options or within the app’s settings.

What are the pros and cons of Dark Mode?  

The dark theme comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  • It saves energy, mainly if the device uses an OLED or AMOLED screen.
  • While the dark text on a white background is the best in terms of readability, Dark Mode (which has light text on a dark background) is better for reducing eye strain in low light conditions.
  • With the majority of the screen dark, the screen glare is reduced, thereby minimizing flickering and blue light.

Cons:

  • Dark themes are not always better for eye strain. In bright light conditions, the text appears washed out, increasing eye fatigue.
  • Long pieces of content or text are more challenging to read in Dark Mode.

List of Dark Mode Apps and Services

Google Dark Mode

Chrome Dark Mode

 

For several years, users have been waiting for dark themes for Google services and applications, but it’s only recently that dark mode has been included in many apps, including Chrome, Calendar and YouTube. In May 2019, along with update 5/22, Google introduced Dark Mode on several apps. Google Keep, which many Android users adopt for note-taking, features the option to enable dark theme as a toggle icon in the app’s settings. Instead of black, the app uses shades of dark gray.

In the case of Google Drive, the dark theme doesn’t cover all versions of the OS. The recent update works well on Android Q, where users experience the shift between dark and light modes based on system settings. On Android Pie, the feedback varies from one user to another. It sometimes works on devices that have enabled dark mode settings. Currently, the dark theme on Google Drive is not available for iOS and desktop clients, but it will likely change soon. Calendar is another of the Google apps that offers Dark Mode as an in-app setting on Android Nougat and newer versions. Like with other Google apps, the background colour is dark gray rather than black.

When it comes to Google Chrome, the dark theme is accessible on macOS as well as Windows. For macOS devices running on Chrome’s version 73 or older, the browser appearance can be changed by toggling between light and dark modes. For Windows users, version 74 has the Dark Mode feature, which also matches the system theme. However, the feature doesn’t always function as expected. For Android users, a recent Canary update has introduced it as a flag that can be enabled to switch the theme. It’s only a matter of time before Chrome will feature dark pages on Android devices.

Version 7.6 of Google’s Calculator App enables theme as a three-dot option with an overflow menu in the app. Besides light and dark themes, users can choose to ‘set by battery saver’. More recently, Google has started the Dark Mode theme on its online Help Center to cover its extensive library of troubleshooting pages and tutorials. Here too, the background uses dark gray, instead of pure black, with blue for hyperlinks and white for text. For enabling the dark theme, users can scroll to the bottom of the page and use the toggle icon on the right-hand side.

After months of testing, Dark Mode has also been added to Google Discover Feed. However, it is not a manual option and works on system night mode settings. In its latest update, the Google Play Games app also offers the dark theme, but unlike the night mode that works on some of the other apps, the user has to set it manually.

As for the Google Phone app, it comes with Dark Mode in its latest update, and the theme extends across all areas of the interface, from contacts to the dialer, menu and history. The manual switch for turning on Dark Mode can be found under the Display options in Settings. A notable feature is that Google Phone and Google Contacts sync for the dark mode setting. If the user enables it on one, the other automatically switches to it. For the Google Contacts app, one needs to update to the latest version to get the option of dark mode. It is present as a toggle button on the side menu. Alternatively, it can be turned on from within developer options.

YouTube is the app that is leading the trend of Dark Mode among Google’s offerings. While it has been available on the web and iOS app for a few months, it has recently arrived on Android. Similarly, Google News has introduced the dark theme to make it easier for users to read content in low light conditions in the evening or at night. The app comes with the option of turning on Dark Mode always, automatically at night or when the device is running on battery-saver mode.

Google Maps is another app that features Dark Mode. However, instead of an app-wide change of display, the dark theme extends only to the navigation portion. Users have the option of leaving on the dark theme throughout the day.

Last, but not the least, is the Gmail web app. Although it features custom themes that are dark, the options are limited.  Once selected, the dark theme extends only to the general interface. When a user clicks on an email or a link, the white interface is visible. To select it, users need to choose the default white theme from under Themes and tap on the ‘dark’ option before saving the change in settings.

Android Q Dark Mode

Android Q Dark Mode

 

For years, Android users have been waiting for dark themes in both the system as well as app interfaces. The recent increase in the number of Android apps that offer Dark Mode clearly shows the growing popularity of the feature.

While system-wide dark theme settings have been seen in Android devices for a while, it’s yet to make an official debut. Currently, the third beta release gives a preview of how it will work when it is introduced later in the year. The quick settings menu has a toggle feature for enabling the dark theme throughout the system and extending to system notifications and apps that support the Dark Mode functionality.

macOS 10.14 Dark Mode

macos Dark Mode

 

For Mac users, the Dark Mode function is available for OS 10.14 and later versions. Once adopted, the theme uses a darker palette for all windows, menus and controls. Additionally, the foreground is made more vibrant so that it stands out against the dark background.

Moreover, the Desktop Tinting feature enables the system to choose a colour from the windows’ background screen and create a tint that allows the windows to blend better with the surrounding screen and content.

Facebook Dark Mode

dark mode 1

 

First seen as the ‘Easter Egg’ setting in early March this year, Messenger is now officially the first Facebook app to get Dark Mode. It’s available on iOS and Android. It can be enabled in the chat window by choosing the crescent moon emoji in a message or chat thread.

When developing an app with the Dark Mode feature support, it’s essential to understand the requirements as well as the user interactions with the app. From creating inheritance features between day and night themes to default themes enabled by system-controlled flags, our team of skilled developers has years of experience in building iOS and Android apps, including designing themes that incorporate Dark Mode functionality.

Deepak Sinha : Deepak is a hands-on Technology Leader with expertise in designing software solutions for various successful projects for multinationals. He has total experience of 15+ years and has worked on all the phases of application development and has good experience in open source and mobile technologies. He is passionate on new Technologies and has strong interest on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence etc.

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