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What is so interesting about dark mode?

A look at why apps and other platforms, from WhatsApp to Safari, opt for dark theme settings

Dark mode for WhatsApp is designed to reduce eye strain in low-light environments
Dark mode for WhatsApp is designed to reduce eye strain in low-light environments

Last month, WhatsApp became the latest platform to support dark mode. The feature is optional and can be switched on in WhatsApp’s display settings. The result is a display with darker shades than the app’s traditional grey and green colour palette.

WhatsApp is not the only app or platform to use this display setting. Apps and services like Instagram, Gmail and Twitter, to name a few, also come with the dark mode setting. Even Facebook recently introduced similar settings for desktop users.

Android Q is an example of an operating system offering optional, in-built dark mode settings.

Why dark mode settings? For one, they emit less glare. Research and studies have suggested that dark themes can reduce strain on the eyes, especially when you are using your device in low-light conditions.

Here are some other reasons why dark theme settings have found takers across different platforms.

Digital well-being

The jury is still out on some of the possible beneficial effects of using dark mode settings, but any reduction in blue light from different electronic devices in general is good for your melatonin levels. A paper released by the Harvard Medical School in 2018 says that too much exposure to blue light interferes with the secretion of melatonin—the sleep-inducing hormone—in the body. So when you are using your phone in low-light conditions—before going to bed, for instance—dark mode settings are useful.

Battery saver

Dark mode settings help devices with OLED and AMOLED screens by consuming less power and saving on battery. The concept is simple. Each pixel on your OLED display is lit up individually. So, when your display background is white, all the pixels light up, consuming more power. In dark theme settings, the pixels turn black or don’t light up at all.

But do remember that this will help only if you have a device with an OLED screen. Dark mode settings on laptops, phones, computers and smartphones with LCD screens won’t really add to your device’s battery efficiency.

Visual appeal

Dark mode settings also make the content on a screen stand out. The images, icons, text and other elements pop out owing to the contrast and help in highlighting the information and matter displayed on your screen. The visual appeal that this mode offers is a big reason why apps like Spotify, Netflix and gaming platform Steam opt for a dark theme in user interfaces.

Try a normal light theme and you will immediately notice the difference.

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