[Update 3: Flag for Settings Toggle Live] Google Chrome’s dark mode may also darken web pages
Google’s Material Theme overhaul has been predominantly bright white, and not everyone is a fan of the blinding white color used everywhere. It took them a few years, but Google is finally realizing that a lot of users do seek a darker UX. Several Google apps have since adopted a dark theme, and Google Chrome is now catching up. Google Chrome for macOS was reported to receive a native dark mode, and Google Chrome for Windows 10 also received a dark mode in the Canary release channel. Google Chrome for Android is also testing a night mode with the Chrome 73 Beta, but this setting was limited to the browser UI.
A new code change (via 9to5Google) posted to Chromium’s Gerrit now indicates that Chrome for Android plans to do much more than just theme its own UI elements. A future version of the app will recolor web pages to a darker color scheme when the user opts in for the dark theme in the browser. The commit adds in the #enable-android-web-contents-dark-mode flag, which enables other preferences that allow the browser to employ its built-in high contrast settings. High contrast settings are commonly used for accessibility purposes, so this should not affect the performance of the browser or webpage. However, since this does display the website in a form not intended by the developer, it may cause visual mismatches within the website depending on how the website is built.
The underlying changes behind the flag also point towards Android’s built-in WebView browser gaining night mode capabilities. Both, Chrome for Android and Android WebView will be able to darken web pages in the future. Chrome’s experimental dark mode for web content should arrive in the Canary release channel in the coming days, while it will take a bit more time for WebView’s beta to get this feature.
Update 1: Commit Merged, So Here Are Screenshots
A few hours after this article was published, the commit responsible for the change was merged. We decided to download a freshly compiled Chromium APK to see what the new dark mode in web pages looks like. Here’s a before and after comparison. As you can see, it’s still a work-in-progress since it simply inverts most of the page content, including images.
Update 2: Coming to Settings
The forced dark mode setting for Chrome for Android is moving to a consumer-facing location. Previously available by toggling a Chrome flag on all platforms, it will be available in a new “Themes” section of the settings, according to a recent commit. The Themes settings include “System default, Light,” and “Dark.” When the System default or Dark is selected, there is a checkbox to enable forced dark mode.
Source: Chromium Gerrit
Update 3: Flag for Settings Toggle Live
Chrome’s dark mode for web pages is now available as a toggle in Chrome Canary on Android 10. The toggle can be enabled with the “Darken websites checkbox in themes setting” flag shown above. When the flag is enabled, you’ll see a checkbox in Chrome’s Themes settings to “Darken websites.” It appears that this does also show up in Android Pie, but doesn’t respect the system default. The fact that this is now in Canary means it should be making its way to the stable version relatively soon.