Mobile app light and dark modes offer improved usability within different contexts (e.g., dark mode for easier night reading). Yet, little research has investigated the prevalence of light and dark modes across platforms, the intricacies of UI color changes, and challenges in the design and development process. Our investigation focused on comparing light and dark mode designs. We carried out a manual inspection of 120 popular Android and iOS apps to find that only 55\% (Android) and 48\% (iOS) of the apps included any modes. We also found significant variability in how many UI elements changed between modes. We interviewed 15 designers and developers to understand the creative process, motivations for design decisions, and what challenges exist in the processes that affect alternative mode implementation. We identified several issues that HCI researchers are equipped to solve, ultimately improving support for mobile app creators looking to implement dark modes (and beyond) for increased mobile usability in different contexts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Information Sciences and Technologies


Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences


RIT – Main Campus