1. cuttheredwire's Avatar
    I used to think a dark mode would be pretty simple: just formalize the option that apps have been giving users in the settings. Then, add it to native apps and tools gradually.

    There's a couple of problems though. Aren't a lot of splash screens white? Aren't a lot of icons white? Shouldn't the background image change? Instapaper dims images, but is that really a good enough idea for system level API? And should games be excluded or included?

    And those are just things that came to my mind. For a dark mode to be a good experience, it seems there are a lot of details to attend to. Do you think Apple is waiting on a system level dark mode to make it a fluid experience, or is just making a basic system dark mode that difficult?
    03-18-2017 01:49 AM
  2. Rob Phillips's Avatar
    Great question! I'm looking forward to Rene's response. My take: Apple is all about design and, like you said, there are a TON of design elements that need to be taken into consideration. It needs to look organic, which means changing everything to look good with the dark backgrounds...stock apps, icons, buttons, fonts, etc. Apple would essentially be redesigning a large chunk of iOS.

    Apple is also all about marketing. Perhaps offering an iPhone 8 with an OLED display and EXCLUSIVE dark mode is in the works. It would help battery life on an OLED display as well because black pixels don't use up battery like they do on today's retina displays.
    03-18-2017 06:21 AM
  3. Rene Ritchie's Avatar
    Hi! Great question!

    The old accessibility trick of reversing colors to fake a dark mode shows what it looks like if it's not done with a lot of thought and purpose.

    iBooks and Maps, by contrast, have deliberate dark modes, as does the Apple Watch UI due to its OLED display and power efficiency requirements, as well as Apple TV and it's home theater requirements.

    My guess is there'd be a framework and asset collection specific to dark mode, so Apple and developers can call what amounts to an entirely different set of pixels when in dark mode.

    Apps that don't adopt the framework would just use the non-dark theme. (Not sure if Apple could force a fake dark mode that would really work across UI.)

    The more interesting thing to me is whether dark mode support would be a one off, or whether it would be implemented in a way that could support theming at a wider scale eventually. (Like CSS on the web.)
    03-18-2017 07:47 AM
  4. cuttheredwire's Avatar
    Considering that Windows 95 had color control, I'm optimistic that it's a "when" and not an "if" for iOS. One of the things I didn't mention is apps that have multiple dark modes. Instapaper is a prime example: it has two. It has the original black-based theme and the Pocket competing grey theme. It also has a sepia theme… and Safari has the same four (white, sepia, grey, black).

    Do you think this flexibility is part of the motivation behind a potential CSS system solution?

    The other thing I'm curious about is blue dark modes. They're very common. Copied, Simplenote, Maps, and even WWDC are blue. It is the opposite of the red hues that Night Shift is designed for (and looks hideous when mixed). Yet, dark modes aren't about sleep; they're about working in low light.

    Do you think we'll see a shift away from blue dark modes by developers?

    (Note: While a lot of research is concerned over blue light, reducing light in general is also recommended.
    https://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/3074)

    It's interesting that you liken the more comprehensive theming to CSS. CSS is incredibly powerful, but at its core it's about separation of style from content. It allows both colors and images to be specified.

    Do you think, when you mention CSS, that they will do more than color and allow images to be changed?

    Apple seems to favor giving control to developers over users. I recall the keyboard once had an option too be dark or light in a beta, but was removed presumably for developer control. Indeed, if the interface API includes graphic, I would think it would be developer centric, but that isn't necessarily the best experience for users.

    Do you think Apple will try to give developers a way to let users control colors, or just a better way for developers to control color?

    (No need to answer or respond to everything here. I know this is a bit long. Design is a part of my masters IS program; one of the more interesting parts.)
    03-18-2017 07:22 PM
  5. Rene Ritchie's Avatar
    Great follow up, thank you!

    Dark mode for OLED is mostly about energy savings from not lighting up unnecessary pixels, so black would be better from that perspective than even dark blue. Also, at least previous generation OLED had problems with the longevity of blue pixels, so I think being cautious with them would be an advantage.

    As for a "theming engine", I think the goal would be similar to other frameworks: Abstract away the complexity so developers can get a lot of the support "for free". Like Dynamic Fonts, if Apple can provide a way for users to pick color combinations and apps to "just work" with them, it increases functionality. Like using UKit for UI does already.
    03-20-2017 11:01 AM
  6. cuttheredwire's Avatar
    I'm hoping a black theme is inevitable. Night shift lacks some ethics and grey/blue dark modes just aren't dark enough. Combined and you get something about as appealing as the original GameBoy screen… with backlighting. :P

    I mean, am alone on that? Doesn't the whole blue dark mode on an anti-blue Night Shift thing look horrible? Isn't a better night time experience a significant reason for the kind of theming we are talking about (pining for)?

    Shift gears, Apple tends to try to make things "just work," such as when new sizes are introduced to iOS (e.g. iPhone 6+ or iPad Pro +). I have to think that developers will need to add support for this theming, and deem if it is appropriate. Games and skeuomorphic apps won't need it, likely. So, what about older apps? Do you think Apple will just leave them alone, or do you think it my try to force a dark mode on older apps?

    (And again, I'm just curious about design and how Apple approaches it. That and conversation. No need for answers by line.)
    03-21-2017 05:04 AM
  7. cuttheredwire's Avatar
    One last question: Will iMore be getting a dark mode? (Loving the one on MacStories.)

    03-22-2017 02:07 AM
  8. Rob Phillips's Avatar
    One last question: Will iMore be getting a dark mode? (Loving the one on MacStories.)

    If you're referring to the forum, we already have a dark mode. Just tap on Menu and tap the moon icon in the lower right corner of the box that opens up.
    John Yester likes this.
    03-22-2017 03:10 AM
  9. cuttheredwire's Avatar
    If you're referring to the forum, we already have a dark mode. Just tap on Menu and tap the moon icon in the lower right corner of the box that opens up.
    Didn't know the forum had the option, which is awesome, but I did mean the whole site. I'll take what I can get, though.
    Rob Phillips likes this.
    03-22-2017 02:39 PM

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