At least a handful of users on Android 9 Pie are now reportedly noticing that the latest Material Design update to Google Drive includes a test for a dark mode. As might be expected, the mode seems to follow system settings, with users required to have both 'night mode' active in the developer options and battery saving features turned on.
Once those settings are changed, users say that Google Drive shifts to a dark gray color across all menus and UI within the app. That means it won't likely offer any battery savings but it should be easier on the eyes for those who have medical reasons for needing dark mode compared to the stark white that's currently standard in Google Drive. Not every user is going to see the updated dark UI since this testing appears to be severely limited but other changes recently implemented remain unchanged with that mode enabled.
What else lands with the now-widespread update?
The Material Design 2 update to Google Drive started rolling out slowly back in March but should now be available for just about every user via the Google Play Store. As noted above, those changes are still present whether the dark mode is active or not. They're also relatively big changes compared to previous updates.
The most obvious differences in the updated UI apply specifically to navigation. A bottom bar has been added for that purpose, with "Home", "Starred", "Shared", and "Files" tabs. The selected tab is upscaled subtly and highlighted in an alternate hue. Launching the app loads up the first of those tabs, showcasing all of the most recent files a user has opened in full-width, making them easier to read at a glance.
The "Starred" and "Shared" tabs are self-explanatory as is the "Files" tab, which houses the more traditional file view. An icon at the top-left allows users to switch between an oversized folder view -- with options remaining in place for each folder, including recoloring options -- and a more traditional list view. The standard three-dash menu remains in place too but users can access more advanced account options simply by tapping their profile pic at the top-right-hand side of the UI.
Last, but certainly not least, users will notice that the camera app behind Drive's document scanning feature has been adjusted to use the dedicated local camera, allowing better quality and more optimized scans. Options to tweak the resulting scan now appear after the image is snapped.
Meant for developers ...and Android Q?
The test may be related to the system-wide dark mode expected to arrive with Android Q. That's a feature that was initially noted in Android Q Beta 1 but doesn't seem to have been turned on deliberately. Google has been working to add dark mode across all of its apps over the past several months and work has staggered forward toward a dark mode in Chrome, Chrome OS, and elsewhere.
That may also explain why the test is limited to so few users, with Google's focus centered on ensuring the change doesn't cause any issues. If speculation and features spotted in the present two releases of Android Q Beta 2 are indicative of what can be expected, system-wide dark mode could arrive in the next version of the mobile OS alongside a plethora of other features.