MacOS Mojave - Apple would need to improve on the dark mode and overall design consistency

Apple is well known for its attitude of having things the "way it should be" and its design philosophy is appreciated world wide. But the recent software releases appear to suggest that Apple has lost its legacy in the design perfection. Did they fire their chief designer? I don't know.

A much hyped and anticipated feature of the just released MacOS Mojave was the dark mode. Although Apple has experimented with several dark elements in the past - it's the first time they have brought something that would make the overall look and feel truly dark. And because of all the hype and my personal obsession towards the dark, the first thing which I did after upgrading to MacOS Mojave was to turn on the dark mode. However, the first impression was not as welcoming as I expected.

The appearance mode under the System Preferences --> General category

Dark Theme

Embossed Window Edges


The first impression which I had was that the dark mode looked a little like a few years ago. The embossed edges of the dark mode windows stands out unlike their light counter parts. While the light themed windows use a smooth border and shadow, when the dark theme is enabled, the border is solid and dark.

The solid dark border in the dark theme vs. the smooth lighter shade in the light theme.

Embossed and uneven edges visible for the spotlight search bar

3D Glass Type Menus and Panels


Apple has got rid of the 3D elements it used to overuse a few years ago with MacOS Yosemite and switched to a much flatter design. However, the dark theme in MacOS Mojave seems to have brought back the old fashioned 3D styling for panels and menus, at least for the dark theme.

The notification pane, the dock, all seems to be a little projected out. Also dark and solid edges can be easily noticed

3D glasslike menu item as seen from the Apple menu. Again, the solid and embossed edges can be noticed.

Projected out dock on MacOS Mojave, giving it a 3D glass look and feel. Even the dark Trash icon seems to be a bit odd.

These screenshots can be compared against a set of those captured with the light mode on. The smoother edges and flatter design gives the light theme a much modern look as compared to the dark mode.

The light theme with smoother edges and flatter design gives the light theme a much modern look and feel.

Apple may be still working on Dark mode


Although I was very much disappointed by the rollback Apple had in its design philosophy when it comes to the dark mode, I noticed something that gave me a hope that things would gradually improve. When I checked appearance of Siri in the dark mode, I noticed that all edges are smooth and the panel design was more or less flat but acrylic.

The Siri popup in the dark mode has all the edges smooth and the design makes it look flatter

The smooth edges gives the Siri panel a modern look against that of the dock 

Overall Design

It seems that Apple missed a point or two apart from the edges and the flat design, when it comes to the overall design.

Darker shades for the finder background


The finder window in the dark mode has a too dark (almost black) background, against a translucent acrylic sidebar, which makes it look more like an invert rather than a dark theme.

The darker background in the Finder window and the acrylic sidebar
For comparison, the Finder window in the light theme which look much professional

Dark mode is not "everywhere", and all is not light as well


There are many places the dark mode was missed to be applied. For example, see my Visual Studio Code application with native title bar, featuring a light title bar when the dark theme is set. The same applies to application title bars when they are made full screen.

The light themed title bar visible when the Dark mode is set.

Similarly, in light mode, certain Apple created applications seems to have design more appropriate for the dark mode. For instance see the dark fitting sidebar on the FaceTime application.

A dark sidebar featured in the FaceTime application when the light mode is set.

Sidebar icons size not consistent


Another thing probably Apple was known for was consistency. Apple used to follow a very consistent design philosophy. However, when I opened the new App Store, this belief was also shaken. The sidebar icons seemed much bigger than their other counterparts.

The sidebar icon size in the App Store appears bigger than that of Finder and Photos

That is not all. There are many more design inconsistencies and old fashioned design styles applied at many parts of the new MacOS. Even the boot screen of MacOS Mojave is so odd looking with excessive shadows and odd colour combinations.

I am afraid that Apple may be following the same mistake done by Microsoft when they introduced Windows 8. There were multiple inconsistencies across the new Windows when they applied the flat mode without proper attention to minor UI aspects. Even to the date in Windows 10, the misplaced elements from older generation Windows haunts the operating system.

I sincerely hope that with the upcoming software updates, the issues would be fixed by apple. If not, its very saddening to see that a company which used to be a role-model for design and consistency is leaving its legacy in the past.