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Google Maps will soon get the feature you’ve been waiting for

Published Sep 4th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Google Maps Features
Image: blackzheep/Adobe

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  • Google Maps is about to get a feature that many users have wanted for years, app-wide dark mode support.
  • A teardown of the Android version of the app revealed code that will allow users to switch between default, light, and dark modes inside the app.
  • The new setting applies to the entire app, not just the navigation interface that already offers a dark theme for driving at night.

Google released a few notable Google Maps updates in the past few days, including a major redesign that will offer users a better look at landforms as well as a more faithful representation of streets in certain cities. On top of that, Google Maps and Search will provide almost real-time data about wildfires, including a representation on the map of the region affected. Other tweaks like support for traffic lights and the ability to pay for parking are also available in the US, although the latter is a lot more limited in scope.

What’s great about Maps is that Google is rolling out updates on a regular schedule, and a leak now indicates that the company is working on the kind of Google Maps you’ve wanted for years. That’s app-wide dark mode support that will come in handy when driving at night. Well, Google Maps does have a dark theme already, but things are about to get better.

Both iPhone and Android have system-wide support for dark mode, so its up to app developers to offer the feature inside their apps. The dark mode isn’t just healthier for the eyes, but it can also help with battery life on devices that feature OLED displays.

The current dark theme only works in navigation mode when driving. But 9to5Google just discovered code in Google Maps version 10.50 that indicates that the entire user interface will get a real dark mode, not just the map UI.

Google Maps will get a dark mode setting, according to the code, which will offer three options to choose from: default to device theme, Dark theme, and Light Theme. This will give you the option to manually set the theme, or let the system turn it on and off automatically, as it happens with other apps.

This new setting is independent of the navigation appearance, which means it applies to everything else in Google Maps. While dark mode comes in handy while driving at night, you might be using Google Maps at home as well, to inspect your next destination and look for new attractions.

9to5Google tore down the Android version of the app, which means the app-wide dark mode is undoubtedly going to come to Android soon. The app code can’t confirm that the iPhone version of Google Maps is also getting app-wide dark mode in the near future. But the two versions of the app are virtually identical when it comes to design and features. That said, it’s unclear when the feature will be rolled out. Users often discover unreleased Google Maps features well before they roll out, as Google prepares and/or tests the upcoming functionalities.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.