This story was originally published and last updated .
Google has been teasing a dark theme for Maps for over a year now, and it even briefly rolled out to a few people, but it was never properly formalized or acknowledged officially. That changed last month when Google finally announced that dark mode is coming, and now, it's starting to roll out more widely.
We've received multiple reports from people seeing a new prompt (pictured above, on the left) when they open Maps while they've turned on their system-wide dark theme. It allows them to choose which theme to use in Maps.
The long wait was worth it. It's well executed and makes it easy to make out streets and houses, losing little to no clarity compared to the light theme. That's essential for a navigation app and might be the reason why it took this long, though the night/tunnel visuals in the navigation interface could've probably served as a good template.
All other interface elements are also available in shades of gray, and almost all bright accent colors have been switched for more muted pastels. A toggle has been added to settings that allows you to use Maps in dark mode at all times (or never), if you prefer. Here are more screenshots of it in action and with various layers.
After some code surfaced that pointed to traces of dark mode in version 10.50 of the app, we got our first look at a proper, finished night-compatible theme in version 10.51.1 in September. That limited server-side update only affected a few users and vanished pretty quickly. We then didn't hear a peep about Maps dark mode until November 2020, when our tipster Bubu told us he got it on v10.56.1 (APK Mirror). A couple of Twitter users also shared the news, so it seemed like the feature was spreading, but it never really made it onto many phones — until today's official announcement by Google.
The dark theme comes as a server-side switch, so installing the latest version of Maps won't get you there. It seems to be rolling out wider now, so be sure to switch on your dark theme and open Maps to see if you get the prompt.
Rolling out again
This post was initially published in September when the first rollout happened. It has now been updated with information about the current, and possibly wider, rollout in December.
The post has been updated with Google's official statement on the rollout.
Post updated to say that dark mode is now rolling out more widely.
- Guilherme Vier,
- Ramit Suri,