How to replicate Dark Mode on iPhone and iPad with Smart Invert

The Smart Invert feature is the closest thing yet to a true system-wide Dark Mode for your iPhone, iPad and iPod. With this new accessibility feature on iOS 11 and later, the operating system inverts colors of the user interface while keeping the original format and colors for content like your images in the Photos app, graphics in the App Store app and so forth.

Smart Invert is smart enough not to invert the colors of your wallpaper. However, colors of the Dock, iOS’s status bar and several other parts of the interface will get reverted in this mode.

iOS will do its best to detect content that shouldn’t be color-inverted, but don’t expect miracles.

As an example, Smart Invert will revert webpage colors in Safari, including any images and text, as well as cover artwork in the Music app, which doesn’t look good at all.

On the other hand, in Settings, Messages and several other stock apps this mode yields much better results. And for apps like Clock and Activity, the Smart Invert feature preserves their already dark interface without changing anything.

Before we get to it, it’s worth repeating that Smart Invert requires iOS 11 or later.

On older iOS editions, only the classic color-inversion mode is available for visually impaired users that simply reverts the colors of everything on the display.

Smart Invert: hands-on video walkthrough

Check out Andrew’s how-to video covering Smart Invert mode.

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Continue reading for the step-by-step instructions on using Smart Invert.

How to enable Smart Invert on iPhone and iPad

1) Launch the Settings app on your iOS device.

2) Tap General.

3) Tap Accessibility.

4) Tap Display Accommodations underneath the Vision heading.

5) Tap Invert Colors.

6) Slide the Smart Invert switch to the ON position to enable the feature.

“Smart Invert Colors reverses the colors of the display, except for images, media and some apps that use dark color styles,” reads the feature’s description.

NOTE: Enabling Smart Invert will turn Night Shift off.

To disable Smart Invert, slide the aforesaid switch to the OFF position.

The old Invert Colors option is still present, now renamed into “Classic Invert”. Name change aside, this mode still reverses the colors of everything shown on the display, like before, including images and other media.

As I mentioned before, Smart Invert isn’t perfect.

That said, best thing you experiment with Smart Invert to see for yourself how it works in your favorite apps. To access Smart Invert faster, set it as a triple-click Home button action in Settings → General → Accessibility → Accessibility Shortcut.

Taking screenshots while Smart Invert is on will produce normal screenshots.

This is by design—other Display Accommodations in Accessibility settings, as well as Night Shift, don’t apply on-the-fly image processing to the screenshots you take either.

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