If you aren’t aware, Chrome is rolling out dark mode across all versions and operating systems since everyone is seemingly over-the-moon about the idea of all things in black and gray. For me, it is all a bit hit-or-miss, coming in handy when browsing in low light and being a bit odd when viewing content during the day. When pulled off just right, dark mode can be fantastic to look at. When it’s done wrong, a downright mess.
Currently, in Chrome 75 on Android (the latest stable version), you can enable a few flags, change a basic setting and take advantage of dark mode right now. We’ll get into all the how-to’s in a second, but there’s one big problem with dark mode in Chrome that needs to be mentions, however, and that is with the actual content you are looking at in the browser itself. If you think about other apps and dark mode, they don’t have to work nearly as hard. The content in the app is curated and predictable. Android Messages, for example, has a predictable layout and predictable content to deal with.
The web is anything but predictable. Because of this, getting Chrome to render websites that don’t have a dark mode theme in them already is a tad challenging. Between logos, fonts, graphics and other UI elements, just switching whites to blacks won’t quite cut it. Instead, we need Google’s machine learning and AI to do a bit of legwork in re-rendering sites the right way. In Chrome 75, the dark mode implementation is workable, but not good. Images get lost or inverted, logos get malformed, and text simply becomes deep black backgrounds with eye-piercing white fonts.
Fast forward to Chrome 77 and it looks like this whole dark mode for web content effort is getting a massive overhaul. Gone are the sometimes-inverted photos, odd colors for logos, and flat black backgrounds and searing white text. Replacing those are subtler grays, slightly darkened text, proper photos and unmolested logos. It looks 100% better across the board and actually makes me a bit eager to give this all a go in Chrome Canary for a bit and see what browsing the web feels like in dark mode for a change.
How To Try It
Interested? If you want to give this all a whirl, doing so is very simple and you can be test driving the new and improved dark mode pretty quickly. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Go download Chrome Canary from the Play Store
- Get signed in and head to chrome://flags
- Search for “dark”
- You’ll see 3 options: enable all 3
- Restart Chrome Canary (if you don’t see a difference on relaunch, long-press on the Chrome Canary icon in your launcher, get to the app info, and force stop it before relaunching)
- Now, go into Chrome’s settings -> themes -> select “dark”
That’s it! Now you are free to enjoy the web in all its dark mode glory! A quick note: you can do all these steps in stable right now and force-feed yourself the somewhat-hideous dark mode available there if you like, but I’d recommend against it. What Google has done here is pretty shocking from an improvement standpoint, so I’d recommend rolling the dice with Chrome Canary for now when you need a dark mode fix and/or just wait for all this to come to Stable Channel in the coming weeks.