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YouTube's Dark Mode is frustratingly everywhere except Android

YouTube announced a dark theme for its website way back in May 2017, and it released its dark theme to iOS users back at the beginning of the year. When you go to YouTube's support page for Dark theme, you can see how easy it is to turn it on on Apple devices and on computers, but when you click on the Android tab, you get a slap in the face with "Dark theme is currently only available on IOS. Dark theme on Android is coming soon."

YouTube Music sports a dark theme on both its swanky new website and revamped Android app. YouTube Gaming's Android app has a dark theme, too. YouTube on Android TV even sports a dark theme — and a high-contrast black theme too. So what in the name of Material Design is holding up dark theme for the main YouTube app on Android?

If the style and behavior of YouTube's dark theme were still being worked out, I could understand the delay, but they're already out and stable on iOS and YouTube.com. If YouTube looked different on every different skin of Android the way the core Android system did, it might take more time to nail the Dark theme down.

But it doesn't. In fact, the dark theme is sitting deep in the code for the YouTube app installed on your Android phone right now, and we know it works because root users have been able to turn it on for over four months.

So, really, why hasn't it been officially pushed out to Android users yet?

Hello, darkness, my old friend

Google has toyed with us creatures of the night for years when it comes to dark themes on Android. System dark themes have been teased in Android Developer Previews for years, only to be snatched away before the final release. Many thought Android P would finally break the spell, but it only themes the Quick Settings and some system popups.

Read more: the case for Material Dark

The benefits of a dark theme on YouTube are easy to find and easy to notice: vivid video thumbnails pop against a darker background, which is also less distracting to the user while they watch a video. Dark theme makes the whole app easier on the eyes when we're watching Google Assistant whup Siri six ways to Sunday instead of getting our much-needed sleep.

Give it to me now

That's why dark themes are available for YouTube on iOS and web. So what's the holdup on finishing it out on Android? Who at YouTube do we need to beg, barter, or bribe? I'm not above begging for a dark theme on any Google app right now, especially one I tend to use at late hours in dark bedrooms. Anyone else care to join me in begging for Android users to get what everyone else has already had for months?

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

29 Comments
  • I couldn't agree more! I hate Gogle's shift to bright white themes since Material Design came around. It doesn't make sense to use it as it's easier on the eyes AND better for battery life on devices with AMOLED display technology.
  • I love substratum. It makes absolutely no sense that YouTube uses a light theme on Android by default... Let alone that it's the only option. I want all the things to be dark, but I won't join in begging... It does no good. Google doesn't actually care what people think. They'll do what they'll do, and then they'll redo it, whether it's well received or not. Long live Oreo, though KitKat's better.
  • Yeah I been frustrated with this myself. Almost most apps I frequent have a dark mode/theme option. I prefer it to light themes. Why I dont prefer the pixel due to lack of customization.
  • I agree where is the dark theme that they said was "coming soon" that means to us the users a couple weeks at most but I guess to google its a year or more. Come on google get your act together!
  • F*** google
  • This.
  • Amen! (There it is 3 words)
  • Agree waiting forever for the dark theme to land of YouTube Android app.
  • Google always does this bullsh¡t to us and it's really f*cking annoying! I'm starting to think that they do it on purpose just to piss us off. I guess they want us to switch to iPhones. Smh
  • Just FYI, you can type bullshit normally! It's one of the few "naughty words" that isn't filtered... Yet. *Insert "the more you know" gif*
  • Why is it that Google treats us Android users like this? First they did it with GBoard and now YouTube has a dark mode and iOS users get it first? Come on Google, we should be the priority not iPhone users as we outnumber them by a wide margin.
  • I left Windows Phone for this. If I wanted to pay for a device and ecosystem whose creators generally just piss on, I would have stayed with Windows Phone... Out z Windows Mobile.... Or what every Nutella was calling it in the end.
  • Just like how Google forgot how to separate ringtone volumes from the notification volumes, back in 2011. The guy at Google who could write code must have left after Gingerbread, and they've been winging it. Google has been dishing out eye candy, and pushing usefulness out the window.
  • Dark mode! Must have!
  • ..ain't it, tho ..?.. Lol!
  • Youtube Vanced and NewPipe both have dark mode. If Google doesn't want to do it, third parties will step up.
  • Yup. NewPipe user here. Dark theme is the norm for me. 🙂
  • Absolutely. Can't recommend Vanced highly enough.
  • I agree Google should let us Android users get what we want if we want a dark theme mode let us have dark theme mode quit toying with us google I want dark theme mode just like everyone else it would be easier on eyes with dark mode but Google does not care I like dark mode better then white imo
  • I have a dark theme of YouTube on my android device. I forgot where I downloaded it from. I also think it was called YouTube black.
  • Why would you still use the official YouTube app if you can install YouTube Vanced on any Android device, no need for root! It is a slight modification of the official app with dark and black theme (or white) to pick from Plus it has background playback feature!
    I am using it for months and disabled the official YouTube app completely. Just check it out on XDA if you don't trust it or go to youtubevanced (dot) com
  • Yep. Been using it for months and couldn't be happier. Dark mode, PiP, background music playback and option to choose the default resolution. What's not to like
  • Some of you folk sure get riled up over such a simple thing...
  • The cynic in me would say Android is oh-so-bright only to make your phone's OLED display burn out faster...
  • « especially one I tend to use at late hours in dark bedroom » May be that’s a bad habit you should (as all of us) change before asking for a dark theme :))
  • Youtube is one of the main reasons to root a device. It simply just complicates and makes everything uncomfortable - Too many ads, the disability to listen to contents in background, white only theme, and since the last two updates you can no longer select points randomly in a clip using the slider without actually grabbing it to the desired point (super annoying). Nice going in becoming Apple, Google.
  • Funny how Google will bend over backwards to appease iOS users/hardware to the detriment of their core user-base, but when it comes to Apple doing stuff for Android devices, it's a no go on pretty much all fronts. I guess my only question is: Why is Google stupid and why have I bought into this stupid?
  • Google already release dark theme for samsung galaxy s8 and may be for s9.others can suck lollipop now.
  • Without dark mode for Android I watch less YouTube than I otherwise would. If Google wants me to watch more then they should roll out dark mode for Android. While they're at it they should also have dark mode for Google Play Music.