The dark mode is omnipresent today and the backlash has begun. As Adam Engst points out in TidBits, dark backgrounds are better for readability. "Dark mode can affect your productivity," however, is not the last word. The dark mode is great.
The Case Against Dark Mode
But the critics are right – part of the dark mode advertising is silly. According to Apple's website, macOS 'dark mode is "eye-friendly in every way". That is not completely right.
Engst emphasizes visual research, in which dark objects are clearly visible on a light background. In other words, black text on a white background is better than white text on a black background.
He highlights studies that have shown that black and white text ("positive polarity") is more readable:
In summary, a dark-on-light display (positive polarity) like a Mac in the light- Mode performs better when focusing the eye, identifying letters, transcribing letters, understanding text, reading speed, and proofreading. This is recommended by at least some older studies Using a positive polarity display results in less fatigue and increased visual comfort.
Engst highlights the problems in dark mode and explains why this is not always a good option for everyone. Despite the hype, the dark mode does not necessarily help to reduce the eye strain after staring at a display all day. The dark mode is not a general improvement for everyone. That's why this is an option – one that is not enabled by default.
But let's not leave dark mode: we love the dark mode, and we loved it before the big technology companies accepted it. The dark mode also offers practical benefits.
The dark mode is fantastic in a low light environment.
Dark mode is great for low-light environments. If you're lying in bed at night reading something on your phone, reading white text on a black background is much better than letting your face be lit by a lot of bright white light. A dark black screen is also less disturbing to others sleeping next to you.
Of course, you can reduce the brightness of your screen in dark environments, but then you blink on a dark screen and try to read the text. We know from personal experience how much better it feels to stare at a mostly dark screen in a dark room. Sure, it may be faster to read dark text on a white background, but that's not always important.
You may also want to use dark mode when using your laptop in a dark room at night. If you prefer, go ahead!
And surely you should not lie in bed at night staring at your phone. It is not good for your sleep and a good night's sleep is essential for your overall health. But there is a good chance that you will do it anyway – we will do it too.
Dark mode is better for some people
Dark text on a light background is undoubtedly ideal for most people, especially in bright environments, which is not universally valid. As Google explains in its explanation of Android's new dark theme for developers, the dark mode enhances visibility for the visually impaired and for those who are sensitive to bright light.
For example, some people suffer from "photophobia," which is quite possible cause bright light to trigger migraine. The dark mode could help these people.
Other people may have vision problems that make it easier to read light text on a dark background. Because of this, the Invert Colors option was part of operating systems like Windows, Android, and Apple's iOS even before dark mode came into vogue.
Dark mode is better than these accessibility features: it just looks better. For many people who need dark interfaces, Dark Mode is a nifty upgrade to chunky solutions like the old Windows theme of "High Contrast."
Dark Mode saves battery power on OLED displays
From the battery's point of view, the dark mode is superior to the bright mode in devices with OLED displays. How OLED screens work: If a pixel displays true black, that pixel is off and does not consume power. This saves battery power. (In a conventional display, the backlight is on all the time, and the same amount of power is consumed, regardless of whether a pixel is black, white, or another color.)
In other words, an OLED display Displaying a black screen with white text requires less energy than a white screen with black text. According to Google, the dark mode of YouTube could save between 15% and 60% of the battery life depending on the screen brightness.
There are some pitfalls here. For one thing, most devices do not have OLED displays. Apple's iPhone XS, XS Max and X use OLED panels. The other iPhones and iPads from Apple – not even the iPhone XR. Samsung's Galaxy flagship phones and Google's Pixel phones use OLED displays, but many Android phones do not.
With regard to laptops, only a few laptops have OLED displays. No MacBook, but some manufacturers announced on the CES 2019 OLED laptops.
Another shortcoming: There is only energy savings if the pixel is completely black. In other words, that's the color # 000000. If a pixel is just very dark gray or almost, but not completely black, you will not see any energy savings. Many dark modes use dark gray tones for aesthetic reasons instead of the true blacks required for true OLED energy savings.
RELATED: Here's a theme that can save battery power 19659012] Should you use dark mode? Only if you like it!
Is the dark mode good or bad? Should everyone use it or should nobody? We do not have a consistent answer to this question – sorry!
If you do not like dark mode, do not use it. Yes, it's trendy, but it's not necessarily easier on your eyes. In bright environments, the light mode may save your eyes and make you more productive.
If you like the dark mode, you should use it! Even in bright environments, you can use the dark mode if you prefer that look and have no problem reading your screen. There is more to life than looking for small incremental improvements in theoretical productivity.
Or even better: be context sensitive. Activate the dark mode at night or in dark environments and use daylight mode. You can automatically turn on the dark theme of Windows 10 at night through the Task Scheduler, or turn on Dark Sunset mode on macOS with Night Owl. With iOS 13 from Apple, you can automatically turn on the dark mode at sunset.
RELATED: How to Automatically Enable the Dark Theme of Windows 10 at Night