Is dark mode a swizz?
The top interface design trend over the past couple of years has to be dark mode. Seemingly every app and operating system has rushed to implement an option to display a black or grey background with white text. Later today, Apple’s Tim Cook will present a keynote that will unveil the upcoming iOS dark mode among other things.
But while fans of dark mode are keen to talk about how easier on the eyes it is compared to a traditional white background, a much-shared piece from TidBits
this weekend laid bare the downsides:
Unfortunately, Apple’s marketing claims about Dark Mode’s benefits fly in the face of the science of human visual perception. Except in extraordinary situations, Dark Mode is not easy on the eyes, in any way. The human eyes and brain prefer dark-on-light, and reversing that forces them to work harder to read text, parse controls, and comprehend what you’re seeing.
It may be hip and trendy, but put bluntly, Dark Mode likely makes those who turn it on slower and less productive. Here’s why, if you adopted Dark Mode purely because Apple promoted it as the new hotness, you should think hard about switching back to the Light Mode that your eyes and brain prefer in System Preferences > General.
It’s a fair point. Reading light text on a dark background will take longer for most people than dark text on a light background. If you were looking for dark mode to boost your productivity, you’d be best looking elsewhere instead.
And yet I’ve activated dark mode everywhere I can. To my eyes, it just looks nicer, and going back to normal is uncomfortably jarring.
There’s a battery-boosting benefit too, if your device has an OLED screen. With OLED, black pixels are ‘off,’ meaning they require no power. That’s not the case if the app you’re using has a grey background, but apps like Twitter, with a pure-black dark mode, should be giving you a little extra battery life compared to standard 'light mode.’
So the benefits of dark mode have been overblown, and when it comes to productivity you might be losing out, but heck — do what you want, if dark mode makes you happier, at least for a while, what’s the harm?