Google has now dropped an update for the Android variant of its Chrome browser and version 78 is bringing dark mode.
According to the company's announcement, the headlining feature works almost exactly as it does on other platforms. Once turned on, the new theme will take almost every theming element dark — with a deep blue-gray tint as has been seen in dark mode in other Google apps. That includes Chrome's menus, settings UI, and other "surfaces," presumably the tab UI and any other background elements.
Turning the feature on couldn't be more straightforward but it isn't automatic yet. The company will undoubtedly code it to turn on automatically with dark theming for the wider system UI. That's been the directional push across many of its apps and those developed by third-parties. For now, users need to activate it manually.
To turn dark mode on, users must navigate to the Chrome settings menu after installing the latest update. Tap on the three-dot menu at the top-right-hand side of the UI and then settings will present users with a new "Themes" option. The dark theme setting is housed in that menu item.
Aside from dark mode, what else does this Android Chrome update bring?
The update to include dark mode follows a significant slow-roll of updates in Chrome 77 for Android that's still ongoing. More directly, that's the update to the all-encompassing "M" variant of Chrome 77, denoting that it's a milestone update. Those include a new grid UI for tab navigation, as well as the ability to group tabs together.
So it isn't entirely surprising that this update to Chrome 78 for Android isn't listed alongside a plethora of features in addition to dark mode. The usual "stability and performance improvements" are included nearly across the board with this update.
One other noteworthy change is the addition of SMS Receiver API to the mobile version of the browser. That allows sites to read when an SMS is received from the site itself. For instance, Google notes it will prove useful for one-time password verification via text message. A site sending verification to a phone will now be able to read that message if it's origin is the site.
That should step Chrome toward quicker verification processes that require less manual interaction or input from users.
This update seems a bit out of order
The update for Chrome on Android seems to have arrived a bit ahead of schedule for Chrome 78. That's because the company ordinarily launches in a fairly rigid structure. Namely, it typically pushes out Chrome 78 for desktops first, followed by Android and then Chrome OS a week or so later.
With dark mode no official on Android with Chrome 78, Google should be detailing the update for desktop platforms soon.
In the interim, Google Chrome for Android will receive its update to version 78 over the period of a few weeks. That's relatively standard for Android apps and typically, there's no discernible pattern to the rollout. But it does mean that the update could take some time before it hits every user's mobile device.