Last month, a heavily skinned and customized version of Android 2.2 from a team of Chinese developers made a splash in the Android blogosphere. It’s called MIUI, and it takes the best from Froyo, Samsung’s TouchWiz interface and iOS, and transforms the various elements into something quite unique that has managed to make many people excited. Almost every major Android blog wrote about MIUI and did a hands-on video when it was discovered by Westerners, and of those videos, Android and Me provided the funniest courtesy of Christopher Chavez. Below is TechCredo’s detailed demo of MIUI v10.29.
The MIUI ROM has been translated to English by enthusiasts – primarily over at the XDA. It has been ported to various devices, and is natively available for the HTC Desire and Nexus One. In many regards, most other major Android ROMs such as CyanogenMod pale in comparison to MIUI. The Chinese engineers behind it have done a complete overhaul of the Froyo UI, and the result is unique for an Android – albeit heavily influenced by iOS, and they’ve also programmed their own set of apps. I think a few of the UI elements is reminiscent of Palm’s webOS as well.
Update – new features in later releases:
- A surprisingly brilliant file explorer with FTP support. Via Wi-Fi, it can turn your phone into an FTP server that only you can access. Just press a button, connect to an IP address and that’s it. Transferring files between your phone and your computer has never been easier.
- A slick MIUI music player.
- A MIUI camera app, as well as a native gallery app.
- Built-in support for themes. It’s now very easy to completely change the look of MIUI – just load a new theme.
- A native firewall/blacklist feature.
- The ability to change the menu style (Android/iOS).
- An option to use a longpress on the Back button to force close the current application (very handy if an app freezes).
- Lots more…
- A transparent notification bar (window shade) with a new design and toggles for common settings such as Wi-Fi, GPS, flight mode, silent/vibrate mode, as well as buttons for rebooting and turning off your device.
- A brand new lock screen that shows the current time and date, animations when charging the battery, and three different sliders: one takes you directly to the dialer, one unlocks your phone and one opens the Messaging app. If you have music playing, the lock screen also shows playback controls.
- A great looking FM radio application, coded by the MIUI team. Cyanogen was later allowed to use it in CyanogenMod.
- Three battery styles: an ordinary battery, one that shows the actual percentage in numbers, and one that displays a long bar at the very top of the screen.
- A built-in screen shot feature (Volume down button + Menu key).
- A native backup tool for easily making backups of your apps and settings before updating to a new version of MIUI.
- A unique set of MIUI widgets.
- A built-in call recorder.
- A T9 dialer.
- A customized Messaging app with additional features, such as bookmarks.
- A completely customized Android interface, including all icons and menus.
- An option to change the look of the icons.
- Speed. While I haven’t experienced any noticeable difference myself, I’ve heard that games run much smoother and without hiccups on MIUI for many people. Benchmark scores (HTC Desire) are sky-high, and that’s without over-clocking. The ROM is fast, and there are basically no delays at all. Battery life is good, too.
- A2SD+ support, which means that you get extra storage for apps and games via a partition on your SD card. No more “phone storage is getting low” notifications.
- But the best part is the overall look of MIUI: I tried going back to HTC Sense for awhile, but it only lasted one day because it felt too familiar and boring in comparison.
MIUI also includes an impressive launcher app. I don’t use it myself since I definitely prefer LauncherPro, but these are its features:
- A customizable dock.
- There is no app drawer: all of your apps are displayed directly in the launcher, like on iOS.
- Drop-to-uninstall functionality, similar to LauncherPro.
- All icons can be rearranged and organized in folders.
- A new, stylish folder look.
- A new way of adding widgets.
- Unlimited number of homescreens
- The order of the screens can be rearranged
- You can set any of the homescreens as the default one
- Lots more…
I guess some Android purists will consider MIUI to be an abomination, and a valid question is: why would an Android fan want to use a ROM that makes our dear robot look similar to iOS? Well, one can be against the North Korean “walled garden” philosophy of Apple and the limitations of the iPhone, but still enjoy the look of the iOS interface. And the very fact that Android is so open that it’s even possible to make it resemble iOS and webOS, or any other platform for that matter, is one of many, many reasons to use Google’s OS. I would like to see an iPhone user try to make his phone look like Android, when apps that even allude to Android are banned from the App Store by Apple.
First of all, you naturally need root access, since MIUI is flashed just like any other Android ROM. In case your device isn’t already rooted, I will not provide rooting instructions in this post, since that’s a different story, but the web is full of tutorials. Using Unrevoked is usually the quickest, safest and simplest way to do it. Here are links to popular MIUI projects for various devices, all in English. Check out the posts for further installation instructions. If you want to learn more about MIUI, I also recommend that you visit the dedicated site MIUI-Dev.com.
- HTC Desire
- Nexus One
- HTC Evo 4G