Is Your App Ready for Dark Mode?

When building and designing apps, there is a point of decision as to whether to make it light or dark. Currently, some apps are made to support one mode only and sometimes you can switch the mode individually inside an app. As an application developer, to accommodate the needs of all users, you should allow each user to decide which mode they prefer.

Both iOS 13 and Android 10, which are the latest versions of both operating systems at the time of writing this, have added a device-wide dark mode setting in their settings app. This is a great improvement for users who prefer the dark experience. By enabling the dark mode, instead of having to switch each app individually, every app should switch to dark mode. Conversely, by disabling the dark mode, every app should switch back to light mode.

The Pros and Cons

Whether you prefer light mode or dark mode, or like to switch between the two occasionally, both settings have certain advantages and disadvantages.

1. Impact on Battery life

Depending on your source, using dark mode can can increase your battery life 30 % - 35 %, if your phone has an OLED or AMOLED screen. LCD screens show no significant difference in terms of battery life improvement.

2. Eye Strain

In low light conditions, enabling dark mode can help reduce eye strain. Dark mode reduces screen glare and minimizes flickering. However, the opposite is true in bright light conditions. Using dark mode in bright light conditions can increase eye fatigue.

3. Readability

White text on dark background offers maximum contrast and best experience in terms of readability. While dark mode is good for short texts, longer pieces of content can be challenging to read in dark mode.

How to enable Dark Mode on iOS phone

First ensure you are running OS version 13 or higher. If you are not sure, go to Settings > General > About and look for Software Version. If your version is below 13, upgrade your iOS version before proceeding.

Next, to turn on dark mode complete the following steps:

  1. go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls
  2. look for Dark Mode
  3. If Dark Mode is under more controls and has a green plus symbol next to it, click on the green symbol. This will move it under include.
  4. Swipe up the screen to show the phone controls
  5. Click the dark mode icon to toggle the dark mode on and off

How to enable Dark Mode on Android Phone

First ensure your phone supports device-wide dark mode. Search for Android version and ensure it says 10 (or higher). If the version is less than 10 unfortunately the dark mode is not available.

Next, to turn on dark mode complete the following steps:

  1. go to Settings > Display
  2. look for Dark theme (toggle)
  3. move the toggle to right to enable dark mode

After enabling the dark mode, all apps that support it will now appear in dark mode.

To disable dark mode, repeat the steps above and move the Dark theme toggle back to left.

The Path Forward

In practice it will take some time from application developers to update their apps to accommodate this new feature. It will, however, streamline the development process, as the mode change does not need to be built individually for each app.

Older model Android phones will not receive the operating system update, meaning users relying on older OS versions will not be able to utilize the device-wide dark mode. It will take a few years for the older model Android devices to circulate out of common usage.

Despite these few obstacles, this is an exciting advancements to all dark mode fans out there. Both iOS and Android introducing the same setting around the same time indicates there is a clear consensus about the future of dark mode.

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