WhatsApp's dark mode has finally arrived

WhatsApp dark mode
(Image credit: WhatsApp)

After months of speculation and a beta version that nobody was able to actually sign up for, WhatsApp has finally rolled out its much-requested dark mode on both iPhone and Android. And guess what? Lots of people really hate it.

In a blog post to mark dark mode being out of user testing and available now, WhatsApp notes that the new dark mode is designed to reduce eye strain in low light environments, and also hopes that it prevents awkward moments when you're on the phone; in fact it's even made a little video to play on that particular dark mode benefit:

Nice touch; not so sure about that Simon and Garfunkel cover, though. WhatsApp states that it two main priorities when designing the new dark mode: readability, which meant that it wanted to minimise eye fatigue and use colours that are close to iPhone and Android system defaults; and information hierarchy, using colour and other design elements to help important information stand out so that users can more easily focus their attention on each screen.

WhatsApp dark mode

The new dark mode is designed with readability and information hierarchy in mind (Image credit: WhatsApp)

We've downloaded it on iPhone (pro tip: if it doesn't appear among your updates, swipe down to refresh the page) and we like the look of it. It's not quite as grey-looking as our report on the beta version suggested, and fits well with other dark modes on iPhone. Our main note is that the dark mode accentuates the weird doodle pattern that's always been in the background of your chats; you may not have even noticed it before because it's pretty pale in the standard mode, but in dark mode it really stands out.

This might explain the current social media uproar around the WhatsApp dark mode. While we're sure plenty of people are loving it, there's a lot of noise right now from people who are absolutely seething about it being ugly.

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Harsh, but as with so many other things in life, we're sure they'll get used to it. And if you're dying to get a bit more dark mode in your life, you should be able to download the new WhatsApp now. Android 10 and iOS 13 users can activate dark mode by enabling it in system settings, while anyone on Android 9 or below need to go into WhatsApp's settings > Chats > Theme and select 'Dark'. You can read more about WhatsApp's dark mode here.

And if you want a new phone to enjoy all that darkness, then don't miss our best camera phones.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.