It Looks Like Google Is Killing Chrome’s Unofficial Forced Dark Mode

It Looks Like Google Is Killing Chrome’s Unofficial Forced Dark Mode
Photo: Sam Rutherford

In recent builds of Chrome for Android, Google provided a hidden option that allowed users to force dark mode onto websites that would normally feature bright white backgrounds. Sadly, based on updated settings from the Canary build for next version of Chrome (86), it appears Google is dropping support for forced dark mode entirely.

While Chrome’s forced dark mode was technically only available as an experimental setting via chrome://flags, it was a useful option for people who prefer darker backgrounds instead of the blinding white backdrops much of the web defaults to. But according to the new Experiments tab in Chrome 86 Canary as seen by Android Police, the mode is missing (on both Android and desktop) and is likely to stay gone when Chrome 86 officially goes live later this year.

The big problem for Google when it came to forced dark mode is that with the increasing complexity of modern websites, simply doing things like inverting the colours of a website to make the background dark can result a range of issues. So, because Google couldn’t guarantee that forced dark mode would work properly in every situation, it appears it decided to drop support for the setting completely.

While this might be disappointing for people who use Chrome as their mobile web browser of choice, there are still some other options for people who don’t want to give up on dark mode when surfing the web. Samsung’s Internet Browser on Android (which is the default browser on Samsung phones) offers a toggle that lets you switch between light mode and dark mode views with just a couple taps. And earlier this year, Vivaldi added a similar option to its Android web browser in version 3.1.

Meanwhile, on both its desktop and Android web browsers, Firefox also supports dark mode browsing via a dark theme on desktop and a dark mode option in the Firefox Preview for Android, which is available for testing on the Google Play Store. And while none of these options aren’t without their share of quirks or incompatibilities, it’s still nice see other browsers still offer forced dark mode in some capacity.

The only real bummer is that with Google having already spent a lot of time supporting the addition of native dark mode apps in Android 10 and the Android 11 Beta, it’s kind of a shame that official browser-wide support for dark mode probably won’t make its way into Chrome.