When I joined the Android world, Google Play Music All Access had a dark theme to it, and I absolutely loved it. I savored those darker hues when listening to my music late into the night. Then at Google I/O 2013, they unveiled All Access, and a shiny, white UI to go with it. And I wept, for my beloved dark theme was gone. Soon, white UIs took over all the Google apps, and over most of the system, as the once-dark Settings app went white in Lollipop.
Now, in the Android N developer preview, some of apps are reclaiming their darker UIs with the newly returned Night mode. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, dark themes will return to more individual apps.
In Android M's developer preview, Night mode was hiding in the Developer options, but it was pulled from the official release. This year, it's back, but it's in the System UI Tuner, in a new section called Color and appearance.
Night mode has more granular settings this year rather than a simple on/off/automatic choice like last year. After enabling Night mode, you have the option to have it come on automatically based on your location and time. You can also manually toggle it from the settings menu or from the Quick Settings page, if you prefer.
At the moment, while night mode can implement a dark theme for the Android system, it does not change the theme in third-party apps, or even in Google's apps. However, in Android Support Libraries released in February, Google did announce new DayNight theme protocols to help developers easily create both light and dark themes for their apps. They also highly encouraged them to test them, as many hard-coded colors don't play nice in dark themes. This was a relatively recent addition to Android, so they might be holding off on the Night mode setting to switch between DayNight themes until more developers have had time to implement them.
There are three attributes to Night mode that you can mix and match to your content:
- Use Dark theme for Android OS: This changes the Settings app, the built-in file manager, and system popups (like the power off menu) to a darker color scheme. It doesn't extend to the notifications or the Google apps yet, which is a bit of a downer, but there's still time for that to be added in another preview.
- Adjust tint: This will add a warm hue to the screen. Some studies say that bluer hues can interfere with our sleep cycles, so many night mode apps use a red or yellow tone to counteract it.
- Adjust brightness: This will dim the phone at night. If you use adaptive brightness, you may not notice much change. If you keep your brightness cranked up, this can tone it down at night when you're likely in a dimmer environment.
By allowing dark and light themes to be supported on a system level as well as an eventual per-app level (if DayNight is eventually controlled by Night mode), Google would give users a higher level of choice. For those who like being blinded every time they open their phone, the boring white day theme is there for them. For those of us who remember DarkHOLOYOLO, we can once more savor a night theme that is easier on our eyes.
There's always a chance they can take Night mode out again, but I'm very hopeful that we can keep it this time. I also need to say that even if N is a preview for third-party developers, Google should be leading by example and showing devs how night mode looks in Google's own apps. If you're going to tell developers to implement a night theme for their apps, it should start with yours.
Google, you can start with Play Music. I'll be waiting, dancing in the dark.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
These are the best apps for your Android device — period
It can be difficult to find the "right" app when surfing the Play Store simply due to the sheer number of options available. Regardless of what type of app you're looking for, there's an app that can help make your life easier.
You can now pre-order Motorola’s foldable RAZR on Verizon for $1,500
Motorola's foldable RAZR reboot is finally up for pre-order in the U.S for $1,500.
Are you going to keep your Galaxy S10 throughout 2020?
There are a lot of exciting phones set to come out in 2020, but the Galaxy S10 still has plenty of kick left in it. If you own the phone, do you plan on keeping it throughout this year?
Build you own phone cleaning kit without breaking the bank
We use our phones everywhere and expose them to all kinds of nastiness. Purify your phone with these affordable cleaning supplies.