A Quick History of Dark Mode

Reading in Dark Mode in a Dark Room

What is something that could save the battery on your phone, reduce eye strain, and have potential health benefits? Dark Mode of course.

This article is a continuation of my short mini-series, On Darkness, which started with our exit from DST (Daylight Savings Time). Today we are taking a quick look at Dark Mode.

Dark Mode. A great controversial topic when it comes to computers and technology. After a long wait (a shorter one for Android users) “Dark Mode” finally came to the iPhone in 2019. For many of us, this was our first exposure to the greatness that is dark mode on our screens, but it wasn’t anything new.

A surprising majority of 82.7% said they used [dark mode], but again, there is bias in the data toward people who feel passionate about the topic. Presumably the general public’s Dark Mode activation rate is way lower.

Source: Let there be darkness! 🌚 Maybe…

As far back as the 1970s, computers had Dark Mode as the default. This was a necessity back then because the CRT’s of the day couldn’t power the screens like they can today, and dark mode was a way to keep from burning out the screens. This is back when we ran screen savers to… save the screens… from burning out spots.

The term is relatively new in our current day tech. Just as back in the 1970’s, there are many benefits to dark mode, but generally speaking, it’s can be better for:

  • proofreading is easier
  • reduces headaches
  • uses less power
  • increasing reading speed
  • easier on the eyes, especially at night
  • developing / coding (over 70% of software engineers say Dark Mode is easier on the eyes for prolonged periods)
  • cuts down on blue light at night (which may or may not be a thing.)

I’m in the camp that the last one was more of a fad for the box stores to sell blue light cutting glasses to the masses.

There is no scientific proof that blue light from devices causes damage to the eyes.

Source: Should You Use Night Mode to Reduce Blue Light?

I’m sure you have your own list. I love dark mode. But not everyone does of course. And there are real legit reasons for people to dislike dark mode. Some people may not prefer it and just really don’t know why, but everyone’s eyesight is different.

People with dyslexia and astigmatism may have issues reading light text on dark backgrounds.

Source: Dark Mode Can Improve Text Readability — But Not for Everyone

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology apparently those with Astigmatism, which causes blurred vision due to the irregular shape of one or both eyes, can have a hard time with dark mode. This can make it more difficult for people to read light text on dark backgrounds because the pupils are open wider in dark mode, letting in more light. I happen to have Astigmatism in both eyes and haven’t found this to be the case, but maybe that’s because it’s corrected with contacts, not sure on that one.

Developers have now come around to the dark mode bandwagon and started implementing a toggle to engage dark mode or light mode on their pages or apps. This was the final circle of software engineers finally implementing something that hardware had enabled years ago.

Dark mode has become table stakes in software design because most OS devices have dark and light modes, so it’s important that apps can conform to users’ settings of the OS theme.

Source: Why do people use dark mode?

Personally I love dark mode. Especially on big bright screens in the middle of the day. Less strain on the eyes over a long period of time is great. Some people think it’s evil, because it’s “dark,” but that’s clearly a false narrative, just ask Batman. As with all great things, use in moderation, and with caution.

Setting Dark Mode on an iPhone

The best of both worlds for me is to use it automatically. You can set your iPhone (or Android device) to enable dark mode to go on and off with sunset and sunrise. This is super easy to do If you have never ventured into the dark side of dark mode, give it a try, you may never return.

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