Dark Mode for Google Maps has been expected since mid-2019 and has yet to arrive. But it may have just made its first appearance in the dedicated Google app on Android.
First spotted by AndroidPolice, the dedicated dark mode appears to do exactly what it does elsewhere in Google Maps. Namely, it replaces white and light-colored hues with darker gray tones. In Maps, that means that the background areas of the map, typically a light gray color, are replaced by a deep dark gray. Lighter gray hues replace the white that typically denotes roads.
Other UI elements are switched up also. Highways and freeways take on a slightly darkened yellow look. The green used for parks and forested areas is far less vibrant and the same follows for blue tones used for waterways. The darkening impacts all colors, in fact, but doesn't seem to result in any color swaps. So users should still be able to very easily interact with and read the map.
Where can Dark Mode for Google Maps be found?
As indicated above, the new Dark Mode for Google Maps doesn't actually appear in the app itself. At least not yet. Instead, it appears to rely on the user having set a system-wide dark mode and a second app. For clarity, that's the system-wide dark theme found in Settings. Conversely, it may also be possible to just turn on Dark Mode for the secondary app in question.
That app, of course, is the dedicated Google app. To turn on dark theming in that app, users need to navigate to the app itself. Then, users will need to select the "More" tab at the bottom to reveal deeper settings. From there, "Settings" must be chosen, followed by "General."
Scrolling down in General settings will reveal an option titled "Theme." Typically that's set to "System default" by default. A tap on "Theme" loads up a button-selection menu and choosing "Dark" will switch over, just as with other Google apps.
Once that's loaded up, the only step required to see Dark Mode maps in the Google app is a search. Going back to the home screen and typing in "Sprint," as in the image above, will load up a selectable map of search results. Tapping that expands it to the full screen.
This isn't quite what everybody is waiting for but it should arrive soon
Now, chances are that this isn't even the final variant of Dark Mode for Google Maps. The variant showcased in the Google app and in searches elsewhere tends to be stripped of key UI, for example. Those elements will be changed up too, in keeping with the theme. But there is a good case to be made that what's being viewed here is foundational to how it will appear.
Namely, Google has increasingly been launching Dark Mode support in more apps. G Suite apps are among the most recent to see the change. But that's also come to Google Earth recently as well — at least, as spotted in a teardown.
With Google's dark mode theming now being spotted in the Google App — explicitly for maps — it stands to reason that app is almost ready to go too. At the very least, Google is ramping up these changes and mapping data-related apps seem to be in the crosshairs for the near future.