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Google shouldn’t give up on its experimental dark mode

Google is ditching an experimental Chrome feature that allowed users to force dark mode on any website, regardless of whether they had one set up. Here’s why ‘force dark mode’ should be given another chance.

This week, Android Police reported that Google has removed all options to enable the forced dark mode from its latest Chrome for Android and Chrome for desktop Canary builds.

While Google never officially debuted the ubiquitous black and grey theme, users can currently access the feature by typing ‘chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark’ into the Chrome search bar. This is all set to end when Chrome 86 sees a stable release in September, effectively forcing forced dark mode off our browsers and into the pile of experimental features that didn’t work out.

Screenshot of a Chrome setting about forcing dark mode for web contents

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So, is it really forced dark mode’s time to go? Dark mode has become increasingly mainstream over the past few years, with every other company seemingly rolling out a black, grey or dark blue variant of their webpage or app. However, there are still countless sites that have not introduced a custom dark theme. Many users rely on dark mode to browse without straining their eyes at night and the feature is also slated to improve readability. True black backgrounds can even help to conserve battery on devices with OLED displays.

It’s easy to understand why Chrome developers may be abandoning the feature. While dark mode did a good job of transforming some sites, others have seen paragraphs disappear and images glitch. And, while developers have improved the feature over time – just last year, Google rolled out an update that taught the browser to automatically detect images, preventing it from inverting them alongside chunks of text – it would be a challenge for Google to get every site perfect with one click.

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However, I believe there is still hope for forced dark mode. Instead of ousting the feature entirely, Chrome could notify users that the website they are visiting isn’t designed to be viewed in dark mode and may not be perfect. A button that allows them to easily exit dark mode for that particular site wouldn’t go amiss either.

Either way, with dark themes only increasing in popularity in 2020, I don’t think it’s forced dark mode’s time to go just yet.

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