It has been nearly two years since we discovered that Google was working on bringing “Dark Mode” to Chrome OS. In that time, we have seen the evolution that will be the upcoming light and dark mode, new theme-specific wallpapers, and the reintroduction of forced Dark Mode for the web. There is still a bit of work to be done before Dark Mode is ready to be released into the wild but a recent update on some devices has revealed an entirely new bootloader screen that is 100% dark-themed and it’s beautiful.
The update was recently discovered by Android Police but the details in the Chromium repository were scant and it wasn’t clear exactly how developers were changing the recovery screen. As you’re probably aware, the initial boot screen for Chrome OS is an eye-searing, staunch white background that is frankly blinding especially if you are in a dimly-lit room when it loads up. The Chrome OS recovery screen shares that same brain-piercing white background. It’s harsh and very unsettling to the unprepared eye.
To clarify, recovery mode is the screen that comes up if your Chrome OS image is missing, damaged or when you invoke the screen to put your device into Developer mode. In simple terms, this is the bootloader. You can “unlock” Chrome OS with Developer mode in order to dual-boot Linux or move to the Canary channel where all the fun, experimental stuff happens. I’m not recommending that you do that. That’s just the path you take to get there. Seriously, don’t do it.
This Dark Mode recovery screen popped up for me yesterday as I was putting a Comet Lake Chromebox into the Canary channel but I haven’t been able to invoke it on any other device. The commit referenced by Android Police states that this feature is being added to a number of upcoming devices and eventually, may land in the firmware of all future Chrome OS machines. Since it is a firmware-level piece of code, it is likely that this will not come to current Chromebooks in the form of an update. As you can see in the images below, the new recovery screen is more than a simple re-skinning with a Dark Theme.
The new dark-themed recovery screen included a walkthrough for the specific device that you are using. This includes steps for recovery as well as advanced options such as debugging and system information. These features are not new but the screen has been totally redesigned and developers have even added a handy QR code that takes you directly to the Chromebook support page on how to recover your device. The screen is way easier on the eyes than the current setup and I, for one, am excited to see it come to more devices.
Hopefully, most users will never have to see this recovery screen but the fact that developers are putting this much work into it leads me to believe that we may see a similar look come to the OOBE (out of box experience) screen. I know that the clean, white layout is very Google-y but I love dark themes and the overall look of the darker screen is more user-friendly, in my opinion. We’ll keep an eye on these commits and let you know how developers move forward with the new dark mode options.