Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Google showcased how the "dark mode" option on mobile operating systems and apps uses less power and drains battery less quickly.
  • The dark mode option changes the primary colour theme of an app to the colour black.
  • The company also admitted that it had made a mistake in encouraging app developers to use the colour white as the main colour for their apps due to its negative effects on battery life.

Dark mode saves lives. Battery lives, that is.

Google backed up the battery life benefits of "dark mode" on operating systems and apps in a presentation during the company's Android Dev Summit on Thursday.

Dark mode is an option that changes the overall colour theme of an operating system or app to the colour black. It's long been associated with better battery life on devices, especially mobile devices. Nevertheless, the benefits of dark mode are now officially endorsed by Google, one of the most influential tech companies in the world.

In one piece of data, Google showed how dark mode can use 43% less power at full brightness than "normal mode" in the YouTube app, which uses a lot of white.


Funnily enough, Google acknowledged that it had made a mistake in encouraging app developers to use the colour white for their apps, including Google's own apps. Unfortunately, it's led to an inconsistent experience on mobile devices. You can turn on dark mode for the Android operating system and various apps that offer dark mode, but other apps that don't offer dark mode will use colour white as the main colour theme.

The battery-saving effects of dark modes are also more apparent on OLED displays, which most top smartphones use these days, compared to more traditional LCD displays. OLED displays don't shine their pixels when displaying the colour black. In essence, pixels displaying the colour black are actually turned off and are using very little power - if any. LCD displays, on the other hand, have a backlight that's always shining, even when displaying the colour black.

Battery life is certainly a major reason for every operating system and app developer to offer dark mode. But for me, it's mostly about comfort. It's an incredibly jarring experience to use apps in dark mode, only to switch to an app without dark mode and get suddenly blasted with white light. It's especially noticeable when using mobile devices in dark environments.

Perhaps we'll see more apps getting the dark mode option in the near future. I'm especially rooting for website developers to give the option to give their websites a dark mode, too.

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