Dark Mode isn't happening in iOS 10. Here's why.

Discussion in 'iOS 10' started by jonblatho, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. jonblatho macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2014
    I see some people still think iOS 10 is going to get some sort of dark mode like tvOS did. It's not happening in iOS 10, and here's why.

    Apps respond to changes in the user interface (like rotating an iPhone 6 Plus from portrait to landscape and making the necessary UI changes) by responding to changes in the UITraitCollection class. It tells apps how much room they have to work with, whether the language is left-to-right or right-to-left, whether there's 3D Touch support, etc.

    So UITraitCollection is a familiar, established way that developers use to respond to the many different device variables (traits) an iOS app needs to account for. UITraitCollection, as its name implies, is a member of UIKit, which is the set of building blocks used by most iOS apps—and tvOS apps, too.

    So, as developers, we can take a peek at the traits that apps for each OS is supposed to account for.

    For tvOS, there's a userInterfaceStyle trait. This tells a tvOS app whether the user has selected the dark or light UI for tvOS. But for iOS, userInterfaceStyle is simply not available, and it never has been. An app has no way to tell which user interface style is selected because there's no setting for it…and it has no way to read said nonexistent setting.

    Either way, if a dark mode's coming in iOS 10, we'd probably have found out by now. With UI changes, Apple really does like to give developers plenty of notice. As an example, in 2012 and 2013, Apple was practically begging iOS developers to start using layout constraints and Auto Layout, subtly hinting that maybe there might be an iPhone size other than 3.5" or 4" in the not-so-distant future. I mean, iOS 7 is the perfect opportunity to totally redesign your app!

    Then, in 2014, they introduced two larger iPhones, leaving behind the developers who didn't heed their warnings to use Auto Layout. (You remember the few apps you had that took forever to optimize for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus? That's generally why they took forever.)

    The same would happen here. If a dark mode were coming in iOS 10, iOS developers would have found out at WWDC this year at the latest. Period. Because designs have to be reconsidered for this—it's not just like flipping a switch. Developers would have to redefine colors for every single object in their app, and that's a lot more complicated than some of you likely think at first glance.

    But there is hope for an iOS dark mode in the future. With rumors pointing to an OLED iPhone, something that may necessitate the addition of a dark mode, and the addition of the userInterfaceStyle trait for tvOS, which increases developer familiarity with how this might work on iOS, it's definitely not impossible.

    It's just not happening in iOS 10.
  2. MacDevil7334 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2011
    Austin TX
    Thank you for such a thoughtful, informative post! I'm afraid it won't stop the incessant "when is dark mode coming?" posts here though.
  3. lagwagon Suspended


    Oct 12, 2014
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    You're right in that it most likely isn't happening for iOS 10 (at least not 10.0) It "could" happen via 10.3 or whatever major update further in iOS 10's life cycle though (similar to NightShift)

    It was discovered in early beta that there were hints of a Dark Mode. With screenshots of people running it through the simulator (showed dark mode being used in Settings and Messages)
    .) This is why there has been a lot more hype or talk about it with iOS 10.
  4. jonblatho thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2014
    Dark UI customizations exist for Settings, Safari, and Messages (as far as I know). For Settings, it's applied to the Watch app, which seems to effectively duplicate the iOS Settings app for the "My Watch" tab. For Safari, dark mode is applied when in private browsing. For Messages, it's used for certain full-screen effects like the fireworks and lasers.

    So yes, that's a thing, but it's not the thing you're searching for. I won't dispute that it may come in a point-release, but this change is major enough (since it requires developers' help) that I believe they'd save it for a major release.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 29, 2016 ---
    I'm afraid not, but one can hope/pray/cross fingers/cross toes/cross eyes/etc.
  5. teddybearstand macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2013
    Even a dark mode for stock apps would suffice; most apps (like twitter and instagram) would look strange with dark mode anyways.
  6. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
  7. teddybearstand macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2013
  8. zmunkz macrumors 6502a


    Nov 4, 2007
    I don't understand the demand for this, personally. I've had the "invert colors" hooked up to the accessibility shortcut since that was available and it doesn't really leave me needing more. I guess all this feature would add is being smart enough to only invert light colors and not invert images? Ehh...

    In any case, informative post, thanks for breaking that down.
  9. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    Seems like the looks part would be up to the individual end-users. While some might not like it, there are many who do/would, just as is the case with the all white background.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 29, 2016 ---
    They can essentially just tweak that part of the invert colors functionality and be petty much there.
  10. Natya Sadella macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2016
    Dark mode is coming. We speak after wednesday
  11. LordQ Suspended


    Sep 22, 2012
    Boy, you're gonna have a bad time. I would love to eat my words though.
  12. ashindnile macrumors 6502

    Jul 16, 2015
    He's a troll, hence the username. I'll admit I laughed though.

    I'm also one of the .3 shippers for the record. Like night shift in 9.3
  13. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    If they do ever implement it, I hope they include an option to auto-select the theme based on the ambient light sensor like in Tweetbot. I love having a dark theme most of the time except when I'm in bright light. I surprised more apps with dark themes don't do this.
  14. TypeMRT macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2007
    Thanks for code-related info.

    I think it could be launched like this:
    - 10.0: exclusive for Apple apps (showcasing Space Black iPhone 7) and announce API for developers in the word cloud slide as "coming soon"
    - 10.1: API available for developers in beta with high profile third-party apps on day one of GM release
  15. SMIDG3T Suspended


    Apr 29, 2012
    Who said it'd be added at all? No-one.

    However, there's a small chance we'll see it in iOS 10.1 but I think it'll be next year with the OLED iPhone 8.
  16. jonblatho thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2014
    Have you read the iOS 10 board over the past few months? Mainly the people in the beta update threads asking if dark mode has been added yet, as if it were ever coming?

    Highly doubtful. This isn't one of those things where Apple has tangible benefit in holding it back from developers—they have the mechanism for UIKit to handle a dark mode, and they actively chose not to use it in iOS 10.
  17. Statusnone88 macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2010
    Twitters dark mode looks awesome.
  18. SoYoung macrumors 6502a

    Jul 3, 2015
    Many people (including myself) think the opposite. White text on black background is way easier to read on a screen.
  19. GreyOS, Aug 31, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016

    GreyOS macrumors 68040


    Apr 12, 2012
    All this is doing is making the valid connection between a lack of public announcement to a lack of development kit features. In other words, when features are announced and/or documented, you expect them to actually exist in the OS. A Dark Mode kit hasn't, so you don't expect it to exist in the OS. If it did, people would have been commenting on it for the last few months.

    Let me stress I really think it's highly improbable dark mode will be revealed at the last minute, not least because it's really not that much of a killer feature (bit of an embarrassing 'one more thing' tbh). But there are at least a couple of ways it could appear. It could appear in the final build as a late, surprise addition, or it could only be in the builds for the latest devices not yet released.

    While you're right that some previous last minute feature reveals have had pre-existing supporting kits like auto-layout to make that transition easier, it's not always been the case (eg 3D touch), and even when it has been the case, they still required at least a few explicit changes by the developer to support the new features. They didn't come completely for free.

    So, it wouldn't be unprecedented to reveal a dark mode with the new iPhones. What's more, dark mode, unlike say 3D touch, is actually a feature than could be developed in parallel without APIs and so on, as a custom feature within apps - twitter being an example others have mentioned. Presumably, most of the work involved to support a Dark Mode is in designing the dark version of your app, and nothing is stopping apps doing that already (though admittedly there is little incentive right now). Then, if/when Apple release a dark mode API, app developers can simply link their two designs to this setting state, which is probably no harder than the few simple tweaks that auto-layout conscious developers had to do when the new iPhone sizes were released.
  20. Natya Sadella macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2016
    Im not a troll. Just look at the iphone keynote picture. They ever had a meaning. This color on black looks like dark mode is coming and every app gets his own colored scheme. Like the clock app, orange on black. Or the black means that a allblack iphone is coming.

    Anyways im sure dark mode is coming with ios 10 final. Maybe not for all apps but for the stock ones.
  21. TurboPGT! Suspended

    Sep 25, 2015
  22. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    If the rumors of new features tailored to the iPad Pros actually holds any water, then we'd be looking at a .X update being a big deal anyway. This is what I'm hoping for (as an iPad Pro owner).

    Awesome thread by the way.
  23. TurboPGT! Suspended

    Sep 25, 2015

    Apple held entire WWDC sessions for tvOS Dark Mode and that alone is the most basic and simplest of UI implementations.
  24. KeanosMagicHat macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2012
    You make some decent, well considered points on your post, but the key word in the sentence above is, "probably".

    None of us really know.

    Some are hoping it does come as soon as possible, others couldn't care.

    I just wish those (not you OP) that actively don't want it for whatever reason would give up posting negative comment.

    As has been said before, no one will force them to use it, so why moan about a feature that many others would like to see?
    --- Post Merged, Sep 1, 2016 ---
    I'm using Twitter's dark mode as default 24 hours a day and it's great!
    --- Post Merged, Sep 1, 2016 ---
    That's all I'm looking for. Doesn't seem like too much to ask.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 1, 2016 ---
    Completely agree.

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