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Dark theme

The Material dark theme system can be used to create a beautiful and functional dark theme for your app. A dark theme generally consists of dark background colors and light foreground colors for elements such as text and iconography.

Benefits of a dark theme include: improved battery power conservation for devices with OLED screens; reduced eye strain; and better visibility in low-light environments.

Starting with Android Q, users are now able to switch their device to a dark theme via a new system setting, which applies to both the Android system UI and apps running on the device.

Design & API documentation

Setup

Before you can use the Material dark theme functionality, you need to add a dependency to the Material Components for Android library. For more information, go to the Getting started page.

In order to support a dark theme for Android Q and above, make sure you are depending on the latest version of the Material Android library, and update your app theme to inherit from Theme.Material3.DayNight (or one of its descendants). For example:

res/values/themes.xml

<style name="Theme.MyApp" parent="Theme.Material3.DayNight">
    <!-- ... -->
</style>

Alternatively, if you want to define separate Light and Dark themes for your app, you can inherit from Theme.Material3.Light in the res/values directory, and Theme.Material3.Dark in the res/values-night directory:

res/values/themes.xml

<style name="Theme.MyApp" parent="Theme.Material3.Light">
    <!-- ... -->
</style>

res/values-night/themes.xml

<style name="Theme.MyApp" parent="Theme.Material3.Dark">
    <!-- ... -->
</style>

The Theme.Material3.Dark theme is a static dark theme, whereas Theme.Material3.DayNight is a more dynamic theme which will help facilitate easy switching between your app's Light and Dark theme. If using a DayNight theme, you can define one app theme that references color resources, which can be overridden in the values-night directory if needed.

Catalog

To see how Material components adapt in a dark theme, build and run the Catalog app and enable a dark theme in one of the following ways:

  • Any API Level: Settings gear menu icon on Catalog home and demo screens
  • Android Q: Settings > Display > Dark Theme (or Dark Theme tile in Notification Tray)
  • Android P: Settings > System > Developer options > Night mode

Color palette

At the core of any dark theme is a color palette that uses dark background colors and light foreground colors. The Material Dark themes make use of the Material Color System, in order to provide default dark theme values for neutral palette colors such as android:colorBackground and colorSurface.

The baseline Material Dark theme background and surface colors are dark grey instead of black, which increases visibility for shadows and also reduces eye strain for light text.

The Material Dark themes also provide adjusted defaults for the baseline branded palette, including colorPrimary, colorSecondary, colorTertiary, and more. See the Material Dark Theme spec for guidance on how you can adjust your brand colors for a dark theme.

Elevation overlays

In addition to the color palette adjustments mentioned above, communicating the hierarchy of a UI via elevation requires some dark theme-specific considerations.

Shadows are less effective in an app using a dark theme, because they will have less contrast with the dark background colors and will appear to be less visible. In order to compensate for this, Material surfaces become lighter and more colorful at higher elevations, when they are closer to the implied light source.

This is accomplished via elevation overlays, which are semi-transparent (colorPrimary) overlays that are conceptually placed on top of the surface color. The semi-transparent alpha percentage is calculated using an equation based on elevation, which results in higher alpha percentages at higher elevations, and therefore lighter surfaces.

Starting with the Theme.Material3.* themes, elevation overlays are now enabled for light themes as well, in order to consistently communicate elevation hierarchy with color.

Note: we avoid overdraw with the elevation overlays by calculating a composite blend of the surface color with the overlay color and using that as the surface's background, instead of drawing another layer on the canvas.

Affected components

The following is a list of Material components that support elevation overlays, because they use colorSurface for their background and can be elevated:

Theme attributes

In order to facilitate some orchestration around the elevation overlays, we have the following theme attributes:

Attribute Name Description Default Value
elevationOverlayEnabled Whether the elevation overlay functionality is enabled. true in Light and Dark themes
elevationOverlayColor The color used for the elevation overlays, applied at an alpha based on elevation. colorPrimary

Note: If inheriting from a Theme.Material3.* theme, you most likely do not have to set these attributes yourself because the Material themes already set up the defaults, above.

Custom views & non-Material Components

If you would like to apply elevation overlays to your custom views or any non-Material views that are elevated surfaces, you can use the MaterialShapeDrawable or ElevationOverlayProvider APIs.

MaterialShapeDrawable

The key to supporting elevation overlays in a custom view is creating a MaterialShapeDrawable with the overlay support enabled via MaterialShapeDrawable#createWithElevationOverlay, and setting it as the background of your view.

Next, override the View#setElevation method and forward the elevation passed in to your MaterialShapeDrawable background's setElevation method.

MaterialShapeDrawable is the preferred approach for custom views because it will keep track of the elevation value for you, and factor that into the overlay any time elevation changes. You don't have to worry about incorrectly compounding the overlays multiple times.

ElevationOverlayProvider

If you have a case where the elevation value is more static and you would like to get the corresponding elevation overlay color (perhaps to color an existing view), then you can use ElevationOverlayProvider.

If elevation overlays are enabled at the theme level, the ElevationOverlayProvider#compositeOverlayWithThemeSurfaceColorIfNeeded method will return colorSurface with the overlay color blended in at an alpha level based on the elevation passed in. Otherwise, it will simply return colorSurface, so that you can use the result of this method without needing any additional orchestration logic.

If you need to blend the overlays with an arbitrary color or an adjusted surface color, or you need to get access to lower level values such as the overlay alpha percentages, take a look at the other ElevationOverlayProvider methods including compositeOverlayIfNeeded, compositeOverlay, and calculateOverlayAlpha.

Absolute Elevation

When calculating the elevation overlay alpha percentage, Material components factor in the absolute elevation of their parent view. This is because the distance from the light source is the driving factor behind elevation overlays.

If you need to factor in absolute elevation in a custom view that supports overlays, you can use the MaterialShapeUtils#setParentAbsoluteElevation methods when using a MaterialShapeDrawable background. For example:

@Override
protected void onAttachedToWindow() {
  super.onAttachedToWindow();

  MaterialShapeUtils.setParentAbsoluteElevation(this);
}

Alternatively, you could use the ElevationOverlayProvider composite methods that take in a View parameter or the getParentAbsoluteElevation method.

Note: This means that you should consider accessibility contrast ratios for text and iconography, when deeply nesting elevated Material components and views that support elevation overlays.