Microsoft is all aboard the dark mode hype train

Outlook on Android
Outlook on Android (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has announced that it is finally bringing a dark mode to its popular Outlook and Office apps to Android and iOS, a feature that users have been longing for since dark mode became a popular trend among the tech industry. These new dark modes are noteworthy, as they are launching alongside iOS 13 and Android 10, both of which finally introduces native system-wide dark modes, something that Windows 10 has had for years. Microsoft is all aboard the dark mode hype train, as it has been for a while.

Microsoft's obsession with dark mode doesn't start here; it spans back as far as Windows Phone 7, Windows Vista, and probably even earlier! Over time, its obsession with dark mode has slowly found its way into other software including Windows 10, and the many apps that run there. Windows has had a dark mode for a long time, so it's great to finally see Microsoft introduce dark mode in more of its apps on non-Windows platforms.

Dark mode for Outlook on mobile was announced at Ignite 2018, which was almost a year ago. That's a long time just to introduce a dark mode, but now it's clear why. Microsoft has been working on dark mode for the entirety of Office on mobile, not just the Outlook apps. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and To-Do are all set to get dark mode on iOS with iOS 13.

Curiously, Microsoft makes no mention of dark mode coming to Office for Android outside of Outlook. We hope it will, but it appears Office for iOS will be getting that first.

Dark mode is best mode

This push for dark mode is one I am personally very excited about. Outlook and the rest of Office join Microsoft's other mobile apps that already support dark mode, including Edge, Skype, and the Microsoft Launcher itself. There's also already a huge list of third-party apps across Windows, Android, and iOS that support dark mode, including Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, and more.

It's fair to say that the entire industry is obsessed with dark mode, and it's finally getting the treatment it deserves. There have been some studies that suggest dark mode is bad for your eyes, but there are also studies which indicate the exact opposite of that. It comes down to personal preference in the end, do you prefer dark mode or light mode? It's up to you.

If you're a user who likes to keep things consistent across devices, and you already use dark mode on your PC, the introduction of dark mode in Microsoft apps on mobile is a huge deal. You'll now be able to use dark mode in Outlook, Word, and other Microsoft apps across your PC, phone, and the web.

We hope to see Microsoft continue this focus on design, as design across Windows has not been Microsoft's strong suit. We're hoping to see this improve with future versions of Windows, but in the meantime, are you excited about Microsoft's dark mode efforts on iOS and Android? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • I wish Edge's dark mode was able to override all the boring white of Windows Central's site.
  • @WindowsCentral
    Since you are using Drupal there must be something to get this work...
    @media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) {
    /* CSS styles for dark mode */
  • I've had Outlook with dark mode for ages thanks to Substratum but it's always good to have one less overlay to worry about. But Dark Mode needs to be well done. Which means NOT use grey. And Microsoft has proven itself incapable of delivering a consistent good Dark mode. On Windows 10 for example you have Dark Mode properly done on the system settings. Then you have sh*te unusable grey mode on File Explorer and Windows apps they've ruined since launch like the Store. The same goes for Google for what is worth it. On Android 10 they have it well done at the system level but Google's apps only have Grey Mode and look like crapp.
  • I didn't know that you could do this. Is this an app drawing over another app?
  • Yeah, substratum is an overlay. I don't recommend though. Requires a sideload and I have had an overlay permanently screw up background coloring (eg was not removable by changing theme or removing substratum, only by factory reset). Essentially it was darkmoding items while also keeping the text black in many cases, which is not readable, but upon trying to remove it, many push notifications would still be black. After factory reset I settled for Samsung's stock dark theme, which gives dark (not not amoled-black) coloring the push notifications.
  • USB sticks are overrated... they should just stop making them and switch entirely to standard sized sdcards... why usb sticks sticks still exist is a mystery when they could have just as easily required that all the pc venders make their computers bootable from sdcard instead...... when you bring your mp3 files to your car stereo or speaker... why usb sticks??? I mean seriously... I have many sdcards laying around because of my camera... I have almost no usb sticks because they either (a) break or wear out (B) get lost because they thing they are “keychains”. They are not. Sdcards on the other hand have nifty plastic credit card sized holders that you can easily carry in your wallet or purse... down with usb sticks... up with bootable sd cards...
  • Wrong article response?
  • USB is already the standard. SD cards are not. All PCs have USB ports, not all have SD card slots. USB3 ports are very fast, SD cards not so much. SD cards are fine for cameras. Not so great for anything else.
  • Looking REALLY forward to this one of the best things I lost when WP went away. I use full dark mode in O365 at work and it looks great. Unfortunately Outlook doesn't change the message body like the light app does, unless that's just not a default setting.
  • Opened the app after the update today the the splash screen was black with the brand new logo! Apparently the black splash screen is triggered on by me having Night Mode activated on my Galaxy S8+. Unfortunately it doesn't carry over past the splash screen... Yet! Excited!
  • Waiting eagerly for the updates.
  • Yeah what else is their option. It's not like they have a mobile OS of their own.
  • On my Lumia950 with W10M Windows Central is in dark mode for years, just as Outlook.
  • OneNote and Excel on Android, please (?).
  • You know what they say, 'Once ya go won't come back.'
  • Dark mode: hype, trend, bandwagon. Words with too much praise of what is a basic feature. In the MS-DOS times all computers started with a black screen with white text. A black/dark background with white text makes a lot of pratical sense from the hardware perspective. Many screens on phones today are oled. Black is black. It's less of a burden on the screens, consumes less energy and improves the longevity of the devices. If not for quasi health reasons at least for the common sense of the device health, which also saves money in the long run! It'makes sense to do it, not this democratic hyped craze.
  • Did Microsoft pull the plug on this update; are they punking us? We're almost a week passed the release announcement and my Outlook Android app still doesn't have this functionality.
  • Got it today: another app update first, then the dark mode appeared several hours after by itself :)
  • The dark theme on Outlook for Android sucks. It is all crystal dark and not gray dark as the dark theme we are used to on the Lumia 950 XL phones. Damn disappointed...