Sunday, August 12, 2018

YouTube Dark Theme: A Whole New User Experience

Google, alongside Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook, is one of the largest tech companies in existence today. Google owns YouTube, but the YouTube app doesn’t provide any direct profits for Google. Why? This is because, every minute, an estimated 400 hours of video are uploaded onto the platform, which boasts a viewing total of 1 billion hours every single day, which is actually more than all of Netflix and Facebook video content combined. However, regardless of these astonishing statistics, viewing and uploading content onto the YouTube app is free.

So why did Google pay over 1 billion dollars for YouTube? First, Google stands a monopoly in digital marketing and advertising, having more than an 80% share of the global market. This, they owe primarily to YouTube’s short video ads which play before any selected video. 

To maintain this marketing monopoly, Google products, and services, from Chrome to their search engine and even YouTube, all gather information about consumers for the purposes of targeted marketing. This means that via YouTube, Google not only gives you targeted ads but also collects information. The platform is thus very essential to Google’s success and for this reason, is continuously updated and given new features for consumer satisfaction. One of these updates is the YouTube dark theme.

What Is Dark Theme

Simply put, dark theme, which may also be referred to as night mode or dark mode depending on the specific application used, is a feature present in most social media platforms today. Twitter, for example, has night mode while YouTube has a dark theme, both of which are essentially the same feature. Dark theme basically inverts the colors on your device such that the white and bright background is inverted to black and the colors of the texts are inverted as well.

This feature was first released for YouTube’s desktop version but gained so much popularity that demand for it to be available on the mobile app soared. Google heeded the requests and released dark theme on mobile apps but only limited this to iOS. A few months later, YouTube officially released a stable Android version of the dark theme, which doesn’t demand device modifications, specifically, rooting your device.

Why, however, was the dark theme feature only available on iOS at first? This is a question that is frequently asked, and not just limited to YouTube. Instagram’s mobile app, for instance, was available on iOS for about 18 months before the release of the Android version of the app. Most developers choose to do this because of Apple’s closed ecosystem. When a new feature is released, it’s easier for the developer to first test out its viability over iOS because Apple only provides iPods, iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads, all of which run the same operating system. This essentially means that the developer, say YouTube, will be testing out the new feature on a minimal range of devices as opposed to Android where the same feature will have to be tried and tested by thousands of different devices.

Why is this feature important?

Health reasons
The average person spends hours every single day glaring at a screen. This has severe effects on a person’s vision, the most common being vision strain which may lead to headaches. 

Some of the ways to avoid vision strain include:

  • Having the computer a few feet away.
  • Getting prescription glasses.
  • Reduce screen time.

The above are all ways to reduce the amount of bright light that’s focused into your eyes. YouTube’s dark theme is thus crucial and ends up drastically reducing the risk of eyesight related problems associated with spending too much time behind a bright screen, especially at night.

The health benefits notwithstanding, some people may choose to activate the YouTube dark theme solely for aesthetic purposes. The dark background drowns out all the blinding bright light and gives off a cinematic experience to the user. This is more so at night when natural light is absent.

Also, on aesthetics, the dark background increases the video clarity exponentially. With a white background, the clear colors of any video tend to be eclipsed by this bright light, but with dark theme enabled, the white and often blinding background is absent. Thus the colors in the videos pop more and focus is primarily on them.

Battery Life
YouTube is an app that will significantly drain your battery life. For this reason, if you’re using a phone or a tablet/iPad, and aren’t close to a charger, you want to reduce your device’s battery consumption as best you can. The most obvious ways of doing this will be closing all applications that run in the background, but how do you reduce the rate at which the YouTube app drains your battery life?

Bright lighting on displays tends to consume more battery life as opposed to dim light and with the dark theme, the bright display is replaced with a darker one thus saving on battery life.

How To Turn On Dark Theme

The long wait is finally over. For months, Android users have been waiting for YouTube to release a stable version of its app that officially supports the dark theme. This wait was particularly frustrating considering all those running iOS had already gotten the feature earlier.

Recently, after getting the latest version of the YouTube app, some Android users reported that they could find the dark theme option in their settings, just as quickly as any iOS user would. This meant that finally, Google had started rolling out the feature. So how will you activate the dark theme on your Android device?


1. Update your YouTube App.
2. Click on the user icon to bring up settings.
3. Click on settings.
4. Activate the dark theme.

Before the latest YouTube app update, getting the dark theme on your device was a Herculean task involving a series of complicated steps, the first of which was rooting your device. Rooting is basically disabling some of the security measures set in place by your manufacturer, granting you the full access and control over your device. 

This process, however, has some significant setbacks which include:

Rooting grants you access and permissions which may be restricted by your phone manufacturer for safety reasons. Rooting your device thus leaves you exposed to multiple threats and for this reason, rooting your Android device within the warranty period voids your warranty. 

With rooting, malicious apps may find their way onto your device. Security measures are usually put in place to guard against this, but rooting may disable these measures. This thus means that most of your files may end up being corrupted or your personal information, including credit or debit card information, may be accessed.

The reasons stated above are only the main reasons against rooting as many more exist. Rooting may give you unlimited access to your device, but it also exposes your device to many security threats. For this reason, rooting is generally not advisable.

Pros And Cons Of Dark Theme

The advantages of YouTube dark theme include:

  • Gives a cinematic experience especially at night.
  • Improves the general aesthetics of the YouTube app.
  • Reduces eye strain.
  • Improves color contrast thus sharper video clarity.

The above notwithstanding, the dark theme may have some setbacks. They may not outweigh the pros, but the cons are worth mentioning. 

They include:

  • Need for a brighter display.
  • Bringing out scratches on your screen.

With the standard YouTube app theme, one can comfortably watch videos at night with the lowest light setting. However, especially for those with vision impairment, when dark theme is activated, they may not be able to see the content as clearly as they should and thus increase the brightness of the display. This may end up being detrimental to vision health.

If you own a slightly scratched or cracked screen, a white and bright background helps in concealing these defects thus allowing you to enjoy your YouTube videos. However, dark backgrounds like YouTube dark theme tend to make these screen defects visible. For this reason, many will opt to stick to the standard YouTube theme and not activate the dark theme.


YouTube, like any other application, is always trying to perfect its user experience by improving on the existing features or adding new ones altogether. Most apps today, for this reason, have dark modes, including YouTube. This feature, though has taken a considerable amount of time, is finally available on Android devices. The benefits of this feature are numerous, ranging from simple aesthetics to reducing the risk of vision complications.

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