Google Play's new redesign, with the latest iteration of Material Design started rolling out (again) this week. And there's one big thing missing.
A dark mode.
The new Google Play has a ton of white space. And we do mean a ton.
It is blindingly white, which is going to be a problem when people open the Play Store at night to update their apps, or look for a new app to download. That's because they'll be blinded by how much white space there is. So you're going to want to throw on some shades before you open up the Play Store, or you may not get your eyesight back.
With an app like the Play Store, where there is a ton of white space, it should be pretty easy to create a dark mode for it. But Google has neglected that, at least so far. It's quickly going to become the number one most-requested feature for Google Play in the coming weeks, though. Especially as more and more people get the updated Play Store and see just how much white space there is in the updated app.
Google is obsessed with white space
If you know anything about web design, that's a good thing. White space helps make webpages and apps look less busy. It also makes it easier to navigate webpages and apps, while making it feel more "comfortable". As someone who studied web design in college, I know that first-hand.
However, these days, many apps and websites are moving over to a more darker-tone. Just take a look at AndroidHeadlines. We have now moved over to a design that has plenty of white space and a toggle to flip on a dark mode – which looks really good, if I do say so myself though I may be a bit biased. This is the case for a lot of other apps too. They aren't doing away with the white background on their apps, but instead giving users a choice to use a darker background, to help save their eyesight.
Like Google News, Twitter, YouTube and others. They have kept the "white space" but changed the color, so that the user can have a darker color. Making it more comfortable to check out their app or website when they aren't in direct sunlight.
The reason for dark mode isn't so much to give users a customization option, but to give them a way to use their phone in a dark environment, like in their bed, without blinding them. Have you ever picked up your phone in the middle of the night and opened an app like Gmail, only to be blinded by how bright it is? Yeah, that's what's going to happen with Google Play now.
With this new design, dark mode would look really great on the Play Store. Whether that's just a darker gray or a blacked-out background on the Play Store. Both would look amazing on this new design. But alas, there's no dark mode option in the settings, and it's rather strange, given how many other Google apps have added dark mode in the past year.
Dark Mode isn't just for comfort
As much as some people might think that Dark Mode is just a customization option, it's more than that. There has been research done – even by Google itself – that shows apps that are in a darker color, preferably black, give you better battery life.
This is really only true for smartphones with OLED displays, which are the majority of smartphones these days. The reason it improves battery life on these OLED displays is because they light up each pixel individually. And if the majority of the screen is black, then it has less pixels to light up, thus improving battery life.
In Google's own tests, it found that with an OLED display and a dark app, it can save up to 63-percent of battery usage. That's a pretty telling number. And this is compared to an app that's all white, like the new Google Play Store.
Now obviously, we likely don't spend much time in the Play Store (I know I'm rarely in it, on my phone). But saving that kind of battery life when we are doing things we were already doing, is a pretty big deal. Battery life has gotten better on smartphones in the past few years, but it could always be even better.
Other Google apps have embraced Dark Mode except its most-used apps
It's well-known that teams within Google have a habit of not talking to each other. Let alone working with each other.
So the fact that some of Google's apps have embraced the dark side, and others are doing the exact opposite, should come as no surprise.
But it's time they all started talking and working together.
Most of Google's apps all have a dark mode option. Google News, Google Maps, Google Calendar, YouTube, YouTube TV, YouTube Music, and many more. But, the Google Play Store and Gmail do not have that option. And they have more white space than all of those other apps – except maybe Calendar.
Gmail also got a redesign earlier this year. It is also now blindingly white, like the Play Store. And there's no Dark Mode in sight, and it's unlikely that one will be coming anytime soon.
As you might expect, Gmail and Google Play are likely Google's most used apps on Android – at least. Yet these are the main two that do not have any sort of dark mode, or even a way to change up the background to another color.
Again, we come back to the fact that this is not only to make it easier to use our phones in dark environments, but it is also going to save us some battery life. And given how much we all use Gmail on a daily basis, that is a pretty big deal.
Android 10 has a system-wide dark mode, yet Google Play didn't get the memo
Android 10 has a system-wide dark mode, which looks really good. It's not a black mode, but just a darker gray. Which is unfortunate seeing as black would be better for OLED displays – like what is on the Pixel 3. But we'll take it. Somehow, the team over at Google Play didn't get that memo.
The new redesign for Google Play does line up nicely with the new design of Android 10 (formerly Android Q), but you flip on dark mode, and it doesn't really look like it fits in well. You've got an entire UI that is "dark", then the entire Google Play app is super bright with its white space. Pretty much polar opposites.
The redesign looks good, it's just very bright
The new redesign for Google Play looks really good actually. And we're not crapping on the redesign at all. When it first started rolling out a few months ago (before reverting back), I actually quite liked it. It looks very clean and minimalistic. The rectangles now have curved corners and such. Which is part of the new update to Material Design – the design that Matias Duarte put together for Google a few years ago, and has been iterating on ever since.
The redesign also included moving some things around. So instead of having two rows of navigation at the top now, there's a row at the bottom, which moves you from Games to Apps to Movies & TV to Books, etc. It makes it much easier to get through the Play Store and a bit less confusing. And that's the important part here.
Icons are also now hollowed out, so you're just getting a silhouette of the icon. Which looks pretty slick, and it still makes it easy to see what the icon is for. There's no more "tiles" or lines that really separate apps and such. making it look a lot more cohesive. All around, the Play Store looks top-notch.
But as I said at the beginning of this piece, the only real issue with Google Play's new redesign is that bright white space that is part of the app. Give us a dark mode, Google, and it'll be practically perfect.
Dark mode is all the rage in 2019, and Google knows this. As it has helped lead the charge for dark mode. But for some weird reason, it has forgotten to even bring dark mode over to Google Play or the Gmail app. Both of which got major redesigns in 2019. So it's not a matter of, they didn't have time to do it, or the it hasn't been redesigned in a while, because they have.
Hopefully Google can roll out an iterative update to the Google Play Store and bring out a dark mode for all of us to enjoy. Until then, I'd recommend staying away from the Play Store if you are in a dark environment, like laying in your bed. Or at least make sure you have sunglasses on before you open the app.