Android users will now be able to view the UI in Google's Chrome browser in an experimental dark mode using the Canary variant of the application and an easy to turn on Chrome flag setting, spotted by 9to5Google. As with prior dark mode implementations, the change appears to center around swapping over RGB colors to HSL — Hue, Saturation, and Lightness — to attain the appropriate color value to show end users. It effectively reverses the 'lightness' value for colors on the display.
The result is that light colors, such as those used in the main UI along the bottom of Chrome Canary or in the browsers many menus, are swapped out smoothly for a darker tone. Dark colors are swapped in the opposite direction.
Accessing the new feature is relatively straightforward, requiring users to navigate to the "chrome://flags" URL in the Chrome Canary application and searching for "Android Chrome UI dark mode." That should whittle down the experimental options to just a single flag bearing the same title.
After switching the flag to "Enabled" and restarting the browser, that will enable a new setting in the three-dot menu at the bottom-right-hand side of any page — ordinarily found at the top-right-hand side. Inside of the "Settings" menu and under the "Basics" subheading, users should now see a new "Dark mode" option that houses a toggle switch for moving back and forth between the modes.
This doesn't impact page content but there's already an option for that
This latest addition to the beta features for the Canary version of Google's browser stacks atop another recently reported feature that applies a similar lightness-shift but specifically for page content. With both flags enabled, users can get a better sense of exactly what a dark mode in Chrome might look like once its finalized.
Like that previous change, which can be found under the flag titled "Android web contents dark mode," there are still plenty of flaws to be found with the new feature but those shouldn't be too impactful for users who just want to check it out. Problems generally arise with that other feature when colors aren't moved evenly from one end of the lightness scale to the other, making content hard to see or read. Pages that are already dark also have a tendency to shift toward a more blinding side of the color spectrum.
Users can, of course, circumvent that by simply opening up the standard Chrome browser for pages with the above-mentioned problems instead and the most noteworthy discrepancy in the newest flag is even more minor. Namely, the URL bar seems to switch too with the UI changes, changing to dark tones where the page would normally show it in white but to white through pages where it is already dark.
There's still no timeframe for dark mode
The latest features are specifically found in version 73 of Chrome on the developer side but, pending some bug fixes and a few other changes, it could still be a long way off.
To begin with, there's still no toggle in place for darkening the content in Chrome on Android. Arguably, there doesn't need to be a separate toggle since the toggle that's already in place now could be used to toggle both but Google may plan on continuing to test for bugs separately. If that's the case, the lack of a toggle switch makes getting a better sense of how the feature will work once it's released difficult.
Regardless of which way Google decides to go with its new feature, they will need to be tested working together more closely and more bugs will almost certainly appear as development moves forward. Since Chrome 73 is scheduled to launch in just over a week on March 12, Chrome 74 seems to be the earliest it might arrive for those on the more consumer-friendly version of the app. Chrome 74 is expected to land on or around April 23.