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Dark mode: better on the iPhone than the Mac?

In the most recent release of iOS, Apple added dark mode, and I’m a fan. At nighttime, dark backgrounds seem less glaring; they’re also less likely to disturb my partner sleeping beside me on the bed.

But I’ve actually taken to “running dark” all the time—day and night—on my iPhone. I spend most of my time indoors, where dark mode is perfectly legible and less distracting than its older, brighter cousin.

I’m not quite as enamored with dark themes on the desktop, though. I think it’s the overlapping windows that give me trouble. In dark mode, I can’t tell apps apart at a glance; they seem less differentiated.

Why is this? For one thing, it’s difficult to paint a shadow (like the one macOS uses to mark the active window) on a background that’s already dark. It doesn’t help that I spend most of my workday in Microsoft Office. Those apps support dark mode, but when it’s turned on, the interfaces are near-identical, dropping their distinctive “light mode” colors for a uniform gray.

Dark mode works on iOS because you don’t really need to tell apps apart by their interface appearance. On the iPhone, you only have one thing open at a time; you’re probably not going to forget what app you’re currently using. Even in the app switcher, the system helpfully pins each app’s icon to its thumbnail, so there’s no mistaking one for another. ◾

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apple

Apple Watch, “Round Edition”?

I took a bit of time this morning to play with the concept of a round Apple Watch. Some notes:

  • Converting watchOS to work with a round display would be a massive design effort. Everything would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, since most of the platform’s UI elements are rectangular. My proposal solves… almost none of these challenges. It’s literally the easiest screen to mock up.
  • I’ve moved the side button to the other side of the display, mainly for symmetry’s sake. This creates some problems, though, since I use the buttonless side of the Watch to brace against when I’m pressing the button or the crown. On the other hand, this change would make the “hold both buttons” gesture far easier.
  • The bezels here are the same size as on the current watch. A bezel-less round design would look sick, though—better than on the rectangular watch, since you wouldn’t have to deal with fitting square elements into the case’s rounded corners. ■

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