Despite mounting evidence that staring at a screen before bedtime is detrimental to your sleep, I do it every night. (I sleep horribly, by the way). Before I drift off to dreamland my face is awash in LED light as I read a few chapters in Kindle, chink away at my Pocket queue, catch up on Twitter in Tweetbot 3 and flick through my RSS feeds in Unread. Do you know what all of those apps have in common? They all have optional dark themes that display dim white text on a black background. To me, this is a killer feature.
The dark theme may not be as exciting as fancy gesture control or a sleek user interface, but it’s an under-appreciated feature, and it’s time it got its due.
Reading in bed without a dark theme is like staring at the sun on a clear day. It’s hell on the eyes, and it’s especially joyless for the person sleeping next to you. Imagine how many divorces could be prevented if all apps had dark themes.
For what it’s worth, my favorite implementation of a dark theme is in Tweetbot 3. It uses a clever two-finger swipe gesture to switch between modes: Swipe up for the light theme and down for the dark theme–like a light switch. The reason Tweetbot is notable in this department is because many other apps make you burrow into the settings menu to change themes, which takes up precious time I could otherwise spend ruining my night’s sleep by reading in bed.
So if you make an app people might want to use before bed, do your customers a favor and include a dark theme. Just think of the marriages you’ll save.