It’s only been a year now since Apple first announced an official system-wide Dark Mode in iOS 13, and it looks like one of the last major stragglers will finally be getting with the program.
While Dark Mode wasn’t officially available until last September when iOS 13 was actually released to the public, Apple gave developers the frameworks over a year ago at WWDC 2019, so they had plenty of time to implement it before that, and really had no excuse not to come up with something by the time iOS 13 hit the streets.
Microsoft, for example, was incredibly proactive in bringing Dark Mode support to its Office apps for iOS, acutally previewing them in late August, a few weeks before iOS 13 was even available. Meanwhile, of course, all of the hardcore developers leapt on Dark Mode right away as well, with a plethora of popular “iOS-first” apps like Things, Ulysses, Fantastical, Reeder, and more adopted the new UI design almost from day one.
As quick as Microsoft was to embrace its dark side for iOS 13, however, the other tech giants have moved much more slowly. Google began a very laborious rollout of Dark Mode in Gmail in October that took until late last month before everybody actually had it available, since they inscrutably chose to enable it on a per-account basis on the back-end, regardless of what version of the app users were running.
Meanwhile, Facebook snuck its own secret dark mode into Facebook Messenger last year, which seemed to show it was serious about going dark, but the main Facebook app showed absolutely no signs of adopting it at all until hints of code were found in the app last month, but even then Facebook itself remained tight-lipped about its plans for the app.
Facebook’s Dark Side
Now, however, it looks like Facebook is starting to turn the key, although like Google’s Gmail rollout, it’s going to be a staged process, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see it right away.
To be clear, this is par for the course when it comes to Facebook UI designs, since the Facebook mobile app is ultimately just a glorified web wrapper for the Facebook website, with all of the actual UI elements and code being delivered from Facebook’s servers. It’s not at all uncommon whenever Facebook makes design changes for only some users to have it, even when it’s something as simple as changing button placement. In fact, if you sit down with your friends and all open your Facebook apps, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one of you will see layout and UI differences from the rest.
According to The Verge, Facebook is testing it’s dark mode right now with a “very small percentage of people” globally, although some have already shared images on Twitter of what the new design looks like.
Much like how Facebook normally rolls, it doesn’t look like it’s selected a specific group of testers for this new feature, but has rather simply chosen to switch it on for a small but random set of Facebook users, many of whom have simply been surprised to open their Facebook app and suddenly notice that it’s “gone dark.”
According to a Facebook spokesperson, the mobile version of the dark mode is “meant to cut down on glare,” particularly in low-light environments, but they haven’t offered a timeline for when the dark mode will be available to even a larger group of users, much less all mobile users.
Naturally, Facebook has also declined to comment on what’s taken them so long to get here, although it seems to be more about global design changes. The social media giant only rolled out a dark mode for desktop web browsers last month, so it’s likely the mobile app dark mode was dependent upon that. Still, in light of the fact that all of Facebook’s other apps, including Facebook Messenger as well as Instagram and WhatsApp have already adopted dark mode, clearly Facebook has the will to do this, but with over 2.6 billion users around the world, it’s understandable that it’s going to move a bit slowly when it comes to UI changes.
As to when you’ll see dark mode in Facebook on your iPhone? That’s anybody’s guess, since Facebook rolls these things out pretty randomly. You might have it already, or it might show up next week, or you might not see it for months. That said, we’ll be certain to let you know if we find a hidden way to switch it on.