Dark Theme - radio buttons hard to see

What is the problem?
I just tried to use Dark Theme in the field but found that it is very difficult to see which option has been selected on a multiple choice question (radio buttons). They are basically a blue dot on a dark background (and on a second phone it appears to be a black dot on a dark background).

What ODK tool and version are you using?
ODK Collect 1.15

Anything else we should know or have? If you have a test form or screenshots or logs, attach here.
Can this be updated to be a higher contrast - yellow or white maybe? I note that the selected option is also blue in Light Theme, so maybe you don't have control easily?

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Hi @seewhy

we know about this issue, it will be fixed in the next versions.

Hi @Grzesiek2010

Thanks for letting me know - apologies I didn't see it posted anywhere else on the forum so wasn't aware that you already knew about the issue.

No problem at all, probably you were first here on the forum.

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This should now be addressed by v1.15.1 which is rolling out now. Please give it a try once you get the update and let us know if it's working for you.

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Hi @LN
I have just got the update to my Samsung Note 4 (Android 6.0.1) - the Dark Theme remains the same - a mid-blue radio button on a dark background - fine indoors, but hard to see outdoors. Likewise with 'hyperlink' text for 'add group' or 'cancel' - that is in blue of the same tone.

On my fairphone (android 4) the blue appears to be a brighter tone, but not much... I don't generally use this for data collection, its my primary phone!

In your first post you said that buttons are blue or black? We fixed the problem and now they are always blue. Could you confirm? Your problem is that the blue color we use is too dark?

Hi @Grzesiek2010,
You are correct - I am struggling to use a mid colour blue (similar in tone to the 'reply' button on this forum page) against a dark background when outside. If there is 'normal' ambient light such as in my office there is no problem. My original suggestion was high contrast such as yellow, but that's probably not very pretty! So a pale blue (e.g. sky blue) would be preferable, or a light grey (10 or 20% shade).

Otherwise the dark theme is a great feature :slight_smile:
Many thanks

Hi @Grzesiek2010, @LN
I've been using the dark theme in the field over the last few weeks and it is great for extending battery life, and easier in most situations. However I have found some problems with using the dark theme even on the updated version of Collect 1.15.1, related to my earlier posts, so I've put a bit more effort into trying to explain the problem and suggest a solution (rather than just moaning!)

I have attached some examples of screens that I find difficult to use outside, and have to guess how to use in bright sunlight... These are taken from a Samsung Note 4 - which has a reasonably good quality screen, but I use a waterproof case, so lose some definition.

Please upload these to your phone and go outside - I hope you'll see what I mean - the blue text is almost impossible to see and the number picker is hard to work with.

So a few suggestions, trying to keep it as simple as possible, but please take these and amend for more 'stylish' themes (number picker could do with the upper and lower numbers (i.e. add / subtract) in a box to indicate that you can tap there to change the number - I use this as a tally to counting taps is useful...

Thanks for your help - I hope this will help make things easier to use out of doors (and I reckon I'm not the only one to be working outside!)

I'm glad to hear you've been finding the dark theme helpful! Make sure to send thanks to @Shobhit_Agarwal for that! :pray:

I agree that the blue color does not provide sufficient contrast. I think it would be best not to modify the layouts and instead use a better color that would show up in bright conditions. I missed your suggestion above for "a pale blue (e.g. sky blue)" and I agree that's the way we should go. In fact, it seems Android itself has a bit of a standard around a light teal that I think works well (see e.g. https://phandroid.com/2015/05/28/android-marshmallow-has-a-dark-theme-hidden-in-the-developer-options/ or search for "android dark theme" to see lots of examples). Does that sound ok to you?

Regarding the number picker, I think the underlying issue is that the values are just quite small regardless of the theme. Do you think making them bigger would solve the problem?

number picker could do with the upper and lower numbers (i.e. add / subtract) in a box to indicate that you can tap there to change the number - I use this as a tally to counting taps is useful

Agreed this is a useful aspect of the number picker. We currently use the standard Android one but would likely need to customize it to increase the font as described above. In that case we could look at a way to communicate the fact that tapping for discrete increments is possible. For now I've at least added it to the user docs: https://github.com/opendatakit/docs/pull/776

@seewhy There are screenshots at https://github.com/opendatakit/collect/pull/2404 showing a light teal that you can try on your device. The consensus seems to be using teal accents for dark mode and keeping blue accents for the default mode. All that said, dark mode is pretty terrible for the outdoors and I don't think any amount of tweaking is going to solve that problem.

Also, note that dark mode only helps with battery life if you have an OLED screen. On a non-OLED screen (most screens), light mode will give you more battery life because you can turn the brightness down.


The Samsung page for the Galaxy Note 4 does say it has an OLED display.

@seewhy out of curiosity, do you have a rough sense of how big of an impact dark mode has on battery life? It can be qualitative like "we had to charge mid-day and now we can do the full day". It would be a good thing to add to the docs!

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Hi @LN and @yanokwa
Apologies for the silence - I'm in full-on data collection mode for the past few weeks - long days in the mountains and not much internet access!
I have been using the new AND IMPROVED teal accents and they are much easier to see. Thanks to everyone for their work on this (especially @Shobhit_Agarwal !)

As for battery life, I've tried a few "experiments" while I've been working. with the screen on constantly and ongoing interaction with my form, including taking photos (and a GPS track running constantly in the background) I think I get a few minutes extra for every 5% battery (about 20 mins). Difficult to tell exactly (as I was 'testing' whilst focussing on my day job of collecting the data!) but I think it got me out of a hole the other day... I'd forgotten my USB charge cable (DOH!) so was running close to the limit... I got to 6% battery left at the end of my session and I suspect that I would have run dead on light theme for the same work. So that saved me a long walk back to collect the last few bits of data!

The last remaining 'issue' for me is customising the number picker - if that can be done it would take things forward greatly (I'm willing to try if someone can point me in the wrong direction)

Thanks again for everyone's help (not just with the dark theme!) - I wouldn't have been able to do this project I'm currently running without ODK Collect, no word of a lie.


Glad to hear you like the improvements, @seewhy! Perhaps you can share more about your project at https://forum.getodk.org/c/showcase?

As to the number picker, one good option is to use selects or just have people enter the numbers manually. Any reason why that wouldn't work?

Hi @yanokwa
For the number picker, I use it for counting items (up to 120 so far, with my limit set to 200!) as I come across them on my survey - sometimes close together, so a tally tap as I go is really quick, and better than typing a number (I have different elements to record each with tallies and it is easy to switch between). At other times I manually count a few and 'spin' update the number, which is reasonably easy (quicker than just tapping).
I was really pleased when this feature was implemented and had been 'waiting' for something along these lines - I had been using an integer previously, so getting it 'tip-top' with dark theme would be great.

I will add something to the showcase once I've got things a bit more under control with data collection and analysis :slight_smile:

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