“Those who like it, like it a lot”. That pretty much sums up MIUI, a Far East take on the Android mobile OS by Chinese company Xiaomi. I’ve been fairly faithful to CyanogenMod myself, but with the news of MIUI going open-source I figured I should give it a try.
Critics of MIUI tend to write it off as a cheap iPhone clone — probably because, like Apple’s iOS, there’s no app drawer; instead, icons are strewn across however many homescreens it takes to hold them.
Fortunately, just like iOS, you can minimize the mess by organizing apps into folders — just drag one icon onto another. Note that I discovered this quite by accident.
Fans of MIUI will surely hold dear the extensive theming that can be done with a device running it. It’s much more than wallpapers and lockscreens; fonts, menus and even app icons can be customized as well. And while the number of available themes is certainly impressive, it’s how good so many of them look that impresses me. I’m pretty sure this is where MIUI gets its name. If you must bastardize the Chinese pronunciation (MI=”me”), think of it as “my UI”.
Keeping MIUI’s Chinese audience in mind. you might find yourself facing some Chinese characters here and there — like on the dialpad, for example. There are apparently more English-centric themes available on the XDA-Dev forums; I’ll have to put that on my to-do list.
MIUI also sidesteps Android 4.0’s MTP problem by allowing its file manager to act as an FTP server. Just turn on the WiFi, then point your FTP client (or web browser, even) to the IP address indicated on your phone’s screen.
I really like MIUI and I’m going to keep it on my Nexus, at least until official release of CM9 comes out. Xenophobes will whisper in your ear that MIUI is actually a secret plot by the Chinese government to track mobile phone users in the west. This from people who use a phone with software made by Google. Talk about glass houses…