One small tweak will let you use your iPhone in 'dark mode'

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
  • A new iPhone feature lets you switch your display to a form of “dark mode,” meaning the screen appears black instead of white.
  • The feature is an accessibility setting called “smart invert.”
  • It works well in Apple-made apps, but won’t work correctly in most third-party apps.

Thanks to a new feature in iOS 11, you can finally give your iPhone a form of “dark mode.”

Called “smart invert,” the tool lives inside your phone’s accessibility settings and changes the appearance of your screen. Rather than a white background, the screen will look black instead, and some other colours will change, too.

Lots of other apps and platforms have a true “dark mode,” like Twitter and even the Mac desktop. But iPhones have only ever offered the feature as an accessibility option for those who are vision impaired, and it hasn’t always worked well for everyone. Apple’s previous colour-invert feature reversed every colour on your phone, so green apps appear purple, red apps appear blue, and for those who aren’t vision impaired, everything generally looks like you’re seeing it through night-vision goggles.

With smart invert, white backgrounds switch to black, but rather than swapping out every colour for its opposite on the colour wheel, the feature only swaps some, or simply dims them – making them appear slightly duller than normal.

To turn on smart invert, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colours > Smart Invert.

Here’s how it looks using Google Maps:

Dark mode iOS 11Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

It’s the same old Google Maps you know and love, but the colours are fun and different, and the app itself is easier on your eyes, though it takes some getting used to.

And here it is in Apple Music:

Dark mode iOS 11Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

It’s worth noting that while smart invert works on some third-party apps – Facebook, Google Maps, and Email by Edison Mail among them – it doesn’t work well with others. When trying it on Instagram and Pinterest, smart invert swapped the colours in every photo, giving them the night-vision effect. So while those apps will still work, it may be best to use smart invert only at night or in dark rooms.

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