All about Dark Mode in Android Q, and force-switching it for Instagram or WhatsApp

All about Dark Mode in Android Q, and force-switching it for Instagram or WhatsApp
Dark mode needs no presentation, as anyone who has woken up in the middle of the night to read something on their phone would attest. Not only does it save your retinas from burning when ambient light is low but is also a godsend for OLED displays which consume way less power when displaying darker colors.

Back in January, we saw that an optional dark interface mode has been greenlit for development by Google's software team and it is now officially baked into the new Android 10 Q features.

No surprise, as that is one of the most requested options that Android users have been clamoring for since time immemorial, to the extent that major phone makers like Samsung and Huawei started implementing it in their own interface overlays due to popular demand.

Stock Android apps with dark mode 


Google just flipped the switch on dark mode in its popular Keep app, but before it many of its own Android apps went various shades of gray, and it all culminated in the systemwide Android Q dark theme that can also be extended to third-party apps at will.

Said Keep app now joins a plethora of other Google apps like Drive, desktop Chrome, Phone, Contacts, Messages, Google News, Play Games, YouTube, and even Android Auto, as you can see from the header above. 

These are becoming too numerous to list, as they should, if all stock apps are to go lights-out when Android Q rolls around the corner in a few months.



Dark Mode goes Q, but what about Material Design?


In previous Android Q betas, there was no settings option to turn it on, and you had to turn on the battery saver mode in Android Q, and set a battery percentage above your current one as the threshold. It was pretty inconsistent, too - the Photos, Files and Contacts apps had it, for instance, but not Messages or Calendar. In the public Android Q beta, however, the dark theme could be either activated manually, or scheduled to turn on as a battery saver option automatically.

How does it all fit in Google's Material Design ethos that it urges phone makers to adhere to in their Android overlays? Well, there are now firm and detailed guidelines how to go about darkening your app or launcher's interface. There, the team advises against using saturated colors that will clash with a dark background, for instance, or using shades of grey instead of black, unless you are specifically targeting battery preservation on devices with an OLED display. 


Illustrated Material Design guidelines for dark mode on Android

Illustrated Material Design guidelines for dark mode on Android


How will Instagram or WhatsApp go dark?


Dark mode was not prime-time ready in the first Q beta, and manufacturer overlays ran circles around it with their own dark modes, but Google has now made strides to implement it not only in Android, but actually force its design guidelines on third-party app devs. When the app developer adds the "android:forceDarkAllowed="true" string, Android will convert their app to the dark theme on its own without having to put in the work and they can even disable it on a piecemeal basis within the app if they don't like some of the looks.

For users, there are three ways to enable the Dark theme In Android Q. There is a a new system setting (Settings > Display > Theme) that lets you turn on dark mode, or you can use the new Quick Settings switch from the notification tray to turn it on or off in a jiffy once the theme is enabled from settings. On Pixel devices, the Battery Saver mode can also enable Dark theme just as in the early betas, but it's up to other Android manufacturers if they will support this option in their own overlays. Most of them currently do, though.

Google is not content to simply offer a dark mode option for its launcher and default apps, or provide a way for developers to turn on a generic one automatically. You can force it on your own over third-party apps as well, if you so desire, even those that haven't thought about it yet. 

We tested it on a few popular apps and it works pretty well most of the time. If you want to see how it looks like on staples like Instagram or WhatsApp, you can go into the Android Q's Settings > System > Developer options, search for the "Override force-dark" switch, turn it on, and watch the magic happen. What do you think?

Instagram app dark mode forced by Android Q (right)

Instagram app dark mode forced by Android Q (right)

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7 Comments

1. ahmadkun

Posts: 536; Member since: May 02, 2016

I haven’t been excited for new Android version since Ice cream sandwich 4.0 , but now I’m super excited for the next Android update “Q” and it’s time to grab A phone gives the best experience, must likely Google Pixel 4XL if the leaks were real I’m ready to go more than $1000 for it .

5. applesnapple93

Posts: 300; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

remember when android ICS and jellybean only had dark mode? then kitkat to lollipop happened and it was all over

2. d1g1te

Posts: 57; Member since: Oct 04, 2016

There should be option for pure black theme. Try for example Kiwi browser for Android. Turn on Night mode and see magic happen, all web pages now use black background and they are still nice and usable 95% of time. Plus those incredible battery savings on AMOLED display! :)

3. AlienKiss

Posts: 42; Member since: May 21, 2019

I don't understand why they didn't use true black #000000 and used a lighter black instead (I believe it is #080808). You can't tell if you have S9+ or above, but on S8+ you can spot the difference between the true black and the colo used by them. Also, it would be very nice if they'd let us choose the accent color. I love black&red themes.

6. jaywill386

Posts: 13; Member since: Jan 20, 2010

Because of ghosting that occurs on AMOLED screens when using true black. Plus True Black forces the eyes to work harder especially when the text is a true white.

4. tokuzumi

Posts: 1818; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Por fin!

7. ltavaress

Posts: 30; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

Interesting, there are two things I'd like to see there: a dark keyboard and auto-setup time (by sunset)

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