May 8, 2019
Ryan Whitwam

Android Will Finally Have Dark Mode in Android Q

Google talked about a minor Android feature during the Google I/O opening keynote — it’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t usually get so much attention. While talking about the upcoming changes to Android Q, Google’s Stephanie Cuthbertson came on stage to talk about the numerous improvements coming to Android in Q. Cuthbertson finally came to what she admitted was a minor change, but it’s one that’s long, long overdue: a system-wide dark theme.

There have been hints that a dark theme was on the way. Google’s revamped material theming guidelines make it easier to swap in different app themes, and Google pointed out to developers at the 2018 Android Dev Summit that darker themes can save power on OLED displays.

We’ve all expected a dark theme for Android for years, and it was not an unreasonable thing to expect. Google has included system theming in the last several beta releases, but it’s always gone by the time the final version comes out. Now, it’s finally happening, and Google is giving developers the necessary time to get their apps ready.

In Android Q, you’ll be able to turn on dark mode from a quick settings tile or by enabling battery saver. Although, dark mode only saves battery on OLED screens where darker colors can mean fewer pixels are illuminated.

This is active in the latest Q beta right now, but you won’t get the full effect until developers get busy. Plenty of apps have implemented dark themes on their own, but you need to turn them on manually one-by-one. The dark theme will provide an API for other apps to use. So, the single settings toggle will make many of your apps easier on the eyes.

Toggling on the dark theme affects the settings, launcher, and Google Discover feed. Eventually, it will flip apps to dark mode as well. The brief on-stage demo showed apps like Google Photos and Twitter in dark mode along with the system. However, not even Google’s apps are set up to plug into Android Q’s dark theme yet.

We’re on the third beta of Android Q now, and there are several more expected before the final release. That should happen this coming fall. Google’s Pixel phones will naturally be the first to get Android Q and its new dark mode. It will be interesting to see which apps are updated to take advantage of the dark mode toggle in time.

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