WhatsApp’s brand-new dark mode will be exclusively available on devices running iOS 13 when it finally makes its debut. The feature is now being tested in early versions of the app ahead of its rollout to everyone.
Lots of iOS apps now offer their own dark modes that do work on earlier versions of Apple’s software. Many others use Apple’s official dark mode APIs, which weren’t introduced until iOS 13 made its debut last fall.
WhatsApp is one of the apps that will fall into that second category, beta testers have confirmed. That means you won’t be able to use its dark mode on iOS 12 and earlier. There are some advantages to using Apple’s APIs, though.
What we know about WhatsApp’s dark mode
Going down the official dark mode route means that WhatsApp will be able to sync with your system theme. So, when your iPhone switches from light to dark mode as the sun goes down, WhatsApp will automatically follow suit.
It’s not yet clear if you will be able to override this to use dark mode inside WhatsApp even when your system theme is set to light, or vice-versa.
In dark mode, WhatsApp will display darker green chat bubbles, and even a black and white splash screen (as opposed to the current white and green). You will also get a darker keyboard, chat list, wallpapers, and menus.
The darker wallpapers are particularly neat because they’re adapt based on your theme, so the wallpaper brightens up when dark mode is disabled. This is similar to the feature Apple bakes into iOS 13 for Home screen wallpapers.
This version of WhatsApp’s dark mode is supposedly kinder on battery life than previous iterations. It should actually help you maximize use time in between charges when you use it on OLED handsets like iPhone 11 Pro.
The latest WhatsApp beta, version 126.96.36.199, also comes with a new search function, with the ability to filter things like photos, GIFs, videos, and more.
Sadly, there is no room for more beta testers, so if you don’t already have access to early WhatsApp releases, you’ll need to wait until the update goes public. There’s no word on when that might be just yet.