Android 9 Pie has been out for a month, and while the addition of things like digital wellness controls and handy app actions have made Google’s mobile OS friendlier to use, I can’t help but think one of Android 9's most glaring omissions is the lack of an OS-wide dark mode.
Dark mode UIs help prevent you from being blinded when checking your phone at night, and if you have a phone with an AMOLED screen, they may even help extend the device’s battery life. That’s why a lot of big third-party apps like Twitter, Twitch, and Discord come with dark-themed UIs, with even a handful of Google-made apps like Google Weather offering a blacked-out interface.
Sadly, even though my phone has a dark mode skin, dark-themed YouTube still forces a white nav bar. (Screenshot: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo)
But in a strange turn of events, when Google decided to add a dark theme to YouTube, desktop YouTube got it first, with YouTube for iOS following not far behind. And then for months, there was nothing.
Now, all of a sudden, it seems YouTube for Android has finally gotten the call in version 13.35.51 with a dark theme toggle that should help save your eyes at night.
Screenshot: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
Unfortunately, YouTube’s dark theme on Android uses a very dark grey background instead of pure black, which would be the best option for extending battery life, because when you display pure black on AMOLED screens, the device can literally turn those pixels off to save power.
On the bright side, the dark theme setting is super easy to turn on. All you have to do is tap your profile icon in the top right, select the “Settings” option, and then simply tap the toggle to enable YouTube’s dark theme. The only bit of trouble I had with the whole process was getting the dark theme toggle to actually show up, which was quickly fixed by force closing YouTube a few times after I updated the app.
But the real hope, now that YouTube finally has a dark mode across the board, is that Google starts to do this for other major apps or even Android itself. After all, Windows 10 has a dark mode, and the beta version of macOS Mojave has a dark mode. It’s time for Android to get with the program.