Third-party app icons get the dark mode treatment in iOS 18 beta 3

iOS 18 beta 3 brings dark mode to all icons — kind of

Apple has released iOS 18 beta 3 with a change that forces dark mode icons onto every app that has a simple color palette, for better or worse.

If you’ve been running the iOS 18 beta, you may have noticed that only Apple’s first-party icons got a dark mode treatment when using the new customization feature. In iOS 18 beta 3, that changes with a seemingly algorithmic attempt to apply dark mode to every icon — as long as it is simple enough.

Fans of dark mode have spent years customizing their iPhone Home Screen with custom launchers and alternate app icons to achieve a more uniform look. The introduction of a toggle to switch to dark mode icons in iOS 18 makes this process much easier, but it wasn’t clear what third-party apps would need to do to participate.

It seems Apple isn’t giving developers much option — submit dark-mode-friendly icons or we’ll force them on you. Note that this is a beta, but the results are wide ranging.

The automatic dark mode treatment works best on icons that consist of a single glyph, like Discord, or letters, like Booking. Some apps with more complex icons end up with white or gray pixels at their edges, which stand out against the new dark background.

Other apps could end up inverted, like the game Limbo. Icons that are already black are left alone.

For apps that use colorful images, like most game icons, they are left alone or a dark filter is passed over them. This is an early attempt by Apple to ensure icons are uniform in dark mode, so the bugs are expected.

Once iOS 18 has released and developers can ship new icons targeting the new dark and filtered modes, the results will be much nicer. At least this means Google users won’t have to wait until 2030 for compatible icons on their apps to have dark mode.

The forced dark mode icons are new in beta 3 and separate from the tinted icons that have existed since beta 1. The tinted icons have always forced every icon and widget to conform.

Apple is expected to release iOS 18 shortly after the iPhone 16 announcement in September. A public beta of the operating systems is expected sometime in July.

[ For more curated Apple news, check out the main news page here]

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