Chrome for Android's incoming dark mode has taken a step closer to release with reports now cropping up about its arrival behind a functioning flag setting option on the Canary variant of the app. The feature had previously been spotted with the addition of a new flag but that didn't actually do anything prior to the most recently spotted change. Now, the flag activates and turns on the mode.
In effect, as of this most recent iteration of dark mode, activating the feature sends webpages through an inversion of the HSL-based lightness value of given colors on a website. For sites that already utilize black colors, those do get swapped to a much lighter tone. That does also mean that most webpages already using a lot of other dark colors could appear much brighter but for the most part, sites and their content will now seem much darker almost across the board.
Conversely, that discrepancy could affect only a few elements of the page — as highlighted in the images below.
Another possible caveat to the change is that the UI of the browser itself still appears to remain white with the new flag activated. That could change in future iterations of the feature as the team behind the changes sets about working out kinks in its implementation.
Getting things started in dark mode
If this change were now arriving on Chrome OS hardware in the beta or developer channels, getting switched over would require a substantial amount of work and the risk for bugs. The latter of that remains true on the Android version of the browser since it will almost certainly contain bugs that still need to be squashed before the next standard version of the app rolls out. Getting started is relatively easy though since it only really requires users to download Chrome Canary — the most beta of Google's mobile browsers.
Once installed, users will need to navigate in the app to the hidden settings menu found at the "chrome://flags" URL before searching for "#enable-android-web-contents-dark-mode" in the search bar near the top of the ensuing page.
Only one result should be returned, called 'Android web contents dark mode. A quick tap on the drop-down menu to switch the settings position from "Default" to "Enabled" turns the mode on and a reset activates it completely.
For sites where bugs are present, or for sites that simply show up far too bright with the setting enabled users can either use the standard Stable variant of Chrome or turn dark mode back off. That's accomplished by switching back to the default setting following the above-mentioned steps.
A timeline and other platforms
Because there's no way to account for possible errors that could arise or changes still needing to be put in place, there's really no way to gauge an accurate timeline for the official arrival of a feature from its arrival as a test version. The earliest an official dark mode is likely to land on Android is probably Chrome 74 since Chrome 73 is set to begin landing on the Stable Channel on March 12. Chrome 74 is currently scheduled for April 23.
Whatever version of Chrome the feature arrives for, that version of Chrome will most likely take a week or two before it begins arriving on Chrome for Android from its desktop appearance. The feature has also been undergoing testing or hints of testing on desktop platforms, including Chrome OS, in the meantime. If Google chooses to roll dark mode out unilaterally, that will almost certainly add more waiting time.