Well, it’s finally here. After the first whispers emerged some 18-months ago, WhatsApp is finally rolling out its dark mode to iPhone and Android users tonight. For those with devices running iOS 13 and Android 10, the new gloomy appearance will be triggered in the chat app whenever you enable the system-wide dark mode.
So launching WhatsApp to quickly reply to a message late at night won’t blind you with the glaring white user interface. According to WhatsApp developers, it has designed its long-awaited dark mode to “reduce eye strain in low light environments” and eliminate “those awkward moments where your phone lights up the room.”
In a blog post announcing the feature, which has already rolled out to other Facebook-owned properties including Instagram and Messenger, WhatsApp went into additional detail about why it chose the particular shade used in the final release. Earlier whispers from inside the company suggested it was looking to offer seven possible shades of gloominess at one stage of development.
The additional detail on the development process hints at why it has taken so long for WhatsApp to support the feature.
The creators of the app explain: “When designing dark mode we spent time researching and experimenting with a focus on two particular areas: Readability – when choosing colours, we wanted to minimise eye fatigue and use colours that are closer to the system defaults on iPhone and Android respectively. Information Hierarchy – we wanted to help users easily focus their attention on each screen. We did this by using colour and other design elements to make sure the most important information stands out.”
Dark mode should be available in your chat app now. For those with an Android or iOS device that uses an OLED display, enabling the new appearance should result in a significant battery life boost. This is due to the way that OLED panels works, which doesn’t require any power to display jet-black shades of black.
That means those with an iPhone X, iPhone XS, XS Max, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max should see a significant battery boost. Unsurprisingly, there is more choice for Android fans – with most flagship handsets from Samsung, Google, Huawei and OnePlus all boasting OLED panels. More affordable devices will not.
Importantly, WhatsApp dark mode will only work on iPhones running iOS 13 or more recent. In other words, you’ll need to be running an iPhone 6S or newer to be able to use it.
Android devices running Android 10 will see WhatsApp dark mode kick-in when they enable the system-wide dark mode from the quick settings drop down. Unlike iOS, earlier versions of Android are still compatible with dark mode, but it has to be enabled manually within WhatsApp.
That means you won’t be able to automatically change to dark mode based on the time of day or any of the other clever features found in the settings of Android 10.