Android Is Getting a System-Wide Dark Mode, and a Potential Desktop Mode

Google’s next upgrade to Android could feature a bunch of much-requested features. The folks at XDA Developers have gotten their hands on an early build of Android Q, running on the Pixel 3 XL, giving us an early look what’s to come.

The main new feature seems to be a new, system-wide dark mode for Android. The new dark mode will introduce a dark theme for the entire operating system, something which has been a long-requested feature on both Android and iOS. Although companies like OnePlus already provided similar experiences on their custom version of Android, the stock Android experience powering Google’s Pixel handsets and other devices never had a system-wide dark mode. The new dark mode may also come with an option to automatically force dark mode on apps that do not have a dark mode, too.

XDA Developers reported that there is a new option called Force Desktop Mode for developers, which could introduce the ability to simply plug in your Android device to a monitor and get a desktop-like experience. That would be similar to something like Samsung DeX, or Microsoft’s Continuum experience on Windows 10 Mobile. If the feature does make it to the final Android Q release, it could be a huge deal for Google’s next-generation Pixel devices, as well as other new Android devices.

There are a bunch of other minor features in the early Android Q build, including new privacy features that let you give apps access to certain permissions like your location only when the app is in use, much like you can iOS. Google will likely start talking about Android Q sometime soon, probably at I/O this May.

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  • Daekar

    16 January, 2019 - 5:13 pm

    <p>I would love to see a dark mode. Please please. With real OLED blacks, please.</p><p><br></p><p>If Android gets a desktop mode… well, I can't imagine ever buying a ChromeOS device if this happens. Microsoft should be very concerned about this development.</p>

    • tonchek

      17 January, 2019 - 4:19 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#397406">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>Well, OLED screen is something you'll have to get on your own buying a new phone… ? </p>

      • Daekar

        17 January, 2019 - 5:03 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#397482">In reply to tonchek:</a></em></blockquote><p>An OLED screen only uses no power for a pixel if the pixel is a perfect black, not if it is a very dark grey. In order to be useful for battery life, dark mode needs to offer this true black. </p>

  • skane2600

    16 January, 2019 - 8:55 pm

    <p>All of these quasi-desktop "experiences" suffer from the same problem – they don't offer mobile functionality. An expensive mobile phone plus all the expense of desktop peripherals for a conventional PC gives us an inferior result. </p>

    • Jorge Garcia

      16 January, 2019 - 9:25 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#397438">In reply to skane2600:</a></em></blockquote><p>Some people are ok with a inferior experience if it means little to no learning curve, and much less chance of screwing things up. I know tons of people who have trouble with just the concept of a "double click" and even struggle to perform it due to the perfect finger dexterity that is needed. We are in a post double-click world as far as many simple people with simple computing needs are concerned. Further, in a traditional PC environment, if you lose focus for one second, you can EASILY do something like drag and drop one folder "into" another and thinking it is gone! Some percentage of normal people HATE things like that about full-on operating systems like Windows and MacOS.</p>

      • skane2600

        17 January, 2019 - 12:32 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#397453">In reply to JG1170:</a></em></blockquote><p>As we've discussed before, you don't have to double-click to use Windows. On the other hand, anyone who has successfully played a video game on a console from the Atari VCS in the 70's all the way up to the Switch today would not be challenged by a double-click. That's basically most people in the US between the ages of 13 and 50.</p><p><br></p><p>Learning to do simple things in Windows is comparable to learning to do simple things in Android and iOS. Doing more complex things is harder on all systems. </p><p><br></p><p>In any case, those people who can do everything they need to do on their smartphones, don't need to dock it into desktop peripherals and are unlikely to own them.</p>

        • Jorge Garcia

          17 January, 2019 - 3:37 am

          <blockquote><em><a href="#397468">In reply to skane2600:</a></em></blockquote><p>Of course everything you say is correct…(except for the fact that nobody actually turns off double-click in Windows, they just adapt to it, but don't really understand why it's so clunky and non-intuitive compared to their "new and better" poke it here and swipe it there devices)….I just don't understand why you are so opposed to having choice in the PC user interface world. I feel there is plenty of room for every flavor of interface and OS…and the beauty of software is that if done cleverly enough, all interfaces can exist on the same device, with toggles for the more advanced users to flip on.</p>

          • skane2600

            17 January, 2019 - 1:09 pm

            <blockquote><em><a href="#397481">In reply to JG1170:</a></em></blockquote><p>You don't have to "turn off" double-click to avoid it. People don't bother avoiding it because it isn't that hard. You've never seen somebody miss their "poke" target or fail to perform their swipe properly? There's nothing inherently superior about these touch actions.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • Daekar

      17 January, 2019 - 7:16 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#397438">In reply to skane2600:</a></em></blockquote><p>I personally agree – there is no way Android and it's clunky interface will ever replace Windows, MacOS, or Linux for me. However, if you combine an Android "desktop" experience with a ChromeCast and Bluetooth mouse/keyboard… that's good enough for most people, and will maintain a familiar UI.</p>

      • skane2600

        17 January, 2019 - 12:59 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#397500">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>So you sit on your couch juggling the keyboard and mouse while squinting to see small details on your TV? It can be done, of course, but it wouldn't be a good experience.</p><p><br></p>

        • Daekar

          17 January, 2019 - 10:22 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#397563">In reply to skane2600:</a></em></blockquote><p>I suspect that it would be more effective if your viewing distance was a bit more moderate relative to the size of the screen… </p>

          • skane2600

            18 January, 2019 - 1:43 am

            <blockquote><em><a href="#397658">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>Sure, but I don't think most people arrange their furniture around the use of their TV as a computer monitor. I guess for people with very large TVs, it wouldn't matter, but are they the type who would Macgyver their computer setup? </p>

  • Jorge Garcia

    16 January, 2019 - 9:23 pm

    <p>THANK YOU GOOGLE. Take notes from Samsung and their DeX experiment. A rudimentary Desktop Mode for Android is a NO BRAINER. Now just build traditional laptop/desktop hardware to utilize it. ChromeOS is nice, but it is simply not for everybody. I have argued over and over again that there are a lot of people who just need and want a "similar" experience to what they see on their phone but with a larger screen and a keyboard…AKA their phone but in a laptop form factor. They don't want to have to learn a "new" thing like ChromeOS that comes with DUPLICATE apps for almost everything you need! (Duplicate apps is fine for nerds like us, but not so fine for Grandma!). I would even go so far as to say leave the actual desktop and windowing off by default. If HP/Dell ever decide to make inexpensive, but decent Android laptops I'd wager they'd sell a lot of them….at Walmart primarily, but still.</p>

  • dontbe evil

    17 January, 2019 - 2:00 am

    <p>dark mode only 9 years after windows phone 7</p><p>and "continuum" only 4 years after windows 10 mobile</p>

    • prjman

      17 January, 2019 - 9:24 am

      <blockquote><a href="#397471"><em>In reply to dontbe_evil:</em></a><em> True, but this time it might actually be used by real people. Continuum was the right idea. It's too bad they gave up on it. Over time, it would have evolved into something truly useful.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • Greg Green

      17 January, 2019 - 12:55 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#397471">In reply to dontbe_evil:</a></em></blockquote><p>And now there’s no windows phones. Maybe google knew better.</p>

  • wocowboy

    Premium Member
    17 January, 2019 - 5:25 am

    <p>This is really meaningless speculation and fantasy, since it will be at least 5 years before the number of Android devices that use or can even be upgraded to 2019's "Q" will reach even 1%. Such is the sad, sad state of the Android OS. </p>

    • SenorGravy

      Premium Member
      17 January, 2019 - 8:12 am

      <blockquote><a href="#397497"><em>In reply to wocowboy:</em></a><em> Not sure why this is so sad. It won't affect me in the slightest. Why do I care there are millions of old Android phones with slow, out of date internals out in the wild? I'll have either a Samsung or Google flagship.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

      • wocowboy

        Premium Member
        18 January, 2019 - 7:00 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#397504">In reply to SenorGravy:</a></em></blockquote><p>It's sad because the sales of those Google "flagship" Pixel phones, with their at-release problems with the screen, camera, software, USB-C connector, and other issues, are miniscule when compared to other devices, and iPhones, which receive major OS updates as well as minor ones day/date they are released. Yes, they are the only manufacturer who makes iPhones and Apple has complete control over the software so they get timely updates, I've heard it all, but since I happen to believe that customer privacy and security of identity, information, health data, etc is of the utmost importance, I also believe that system updates should be passed on to customers in a VERY timely manner, not a year or year and a half after their introduction. It should not take a YEAR to figure out if an OS update will work on your products, imho. Samsung's track record on Android OS updates is not all that great, either. It is better than some device makers, but you are still waiting months and months after a major OS release before you ever see it on your phone, after both Samsung and your carrier "test" it and update all the modifications they glom on top of it. </p>

    • prjman

      17 January, 2019 - 9:23 am

      <blockquote><a href="#397497"><em>In reply to wocowboy:</em></a><em> That's simply a matter of buying the right phone. If you are interested in getting the latest updates, there are phones out there that guarantee that. Personally, I use a Nokia 7.1, and am on the latest (January 2019) security updates. I'm confident I'll be getting Android Q as well, within a month or two of it being available. For those that are less interested in the updates, there are phones for that as well.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • dcdevito

    17 January, 2019 - 7:02 am

    <p>We had dark mode on Android, back before version 4 🙂 (Gingerbread and earlier). </p>

  • jules_wombat

    17 January, 2019 - 7:56 am

    <p><br></p><p>Yep, the final destination is laptop/desktop Android mode, which is what Windows RT and Windows 10S should have been. And get rid of ChromeOS. This would meet 98% of users needs, regardless of the Windows Geeks wanting obscure power application xxxx. Microsoft have been unable even to develop a coherant Dark Mode across its own OS. Window client platforms are irrelevant, which is what Satya predicted (and why Microsoft Share prices have trebbled under him) </p>

    • skane2600

      17 January, 2019 - 12:54 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#397503">In reply to Jules_Wombat:</a></em></blockquote><p>A Windows tablet you have to tether to desktop equipment? Yeah, that would have been a big hit.</p>

  • nicholas_kathrein

    Premium Member
    17 January, 2019 - 10:29 am

    <p>I love dark mode! I have the options select on my pixel 2 XL but like windows 10 you find that their are areas of the OS that aren't black and that is sloppy and ruins the experience. Can't wait for system wide dark mode.</p>

  • jaredthegeek

    Premium Member
    17 January, 2019 - 1:34 pm

    <p>Again, MS was ahead of the game. The themes were dark and they had a desktop environment but it was too early just like their slate computing initiatives.</p>


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