What is MIUI?
Well, the short answer is that MIUI is a custom ROM for Android that totally kicks ass.
The slightly longer answer is that MIUI is a custom ROM for Android created by a Chinese company called Xiaomi...and it totally kicks ass. It boasts an array of custom apps that are both unique and powerful. Due to the way MIUI is created, it also allows for it to retain features of the original ROM it was based on - in this instance, Sense 5.
It also has a custom theme engine that is limited only by the efforts of the themer, a custom security center that rivals third party software, and meticulous attention to detail throughout the ROM.
But really, a few paragraphs don't do it justice...so I took some screenshots. Here goes...
In writing this, I found myself frequently wanting to add in "EVERYTHING YOU SEE CAN BE THEMED TO LOOK COMPLETELY DIFFERENT."
I can't stress this enough. Every theme adds something different to MIUI, and you can mix and match elements of themes, so there is really no limit to what YOUR Miui looks like. But, instead of offering this information in every section below, I thought it would just be easier to say it once in all caps.
One of the things you'll notice in using MIUI is how ingrained the Xiaomi account has become. It's not mandatory, but having one will allow you to take full advantage of the features of MIUI.
By creating and using you Xiaomi account, you will have access to Cloud Backups of photos, your applications, messaging, theme purchases, as well as the MIUI Market, Video Center, and Game app.
Think of it like the Chinese version of Google.
At a glance, the MiHome Launcher looks a lot like IOS. The default theme uses the same kind of colorful, squarish icons, and there is no app drawer.
Icons in the launcher can be grouped into any number of folders, and the folder names can be customized.
The launcher can feature an unlimited number of pages, and each page can have both icons and widgets. The ROM includes a number of MIUI-specific widgets, as well as allowing HTC and 3rd party widgets with ease.
Widgets can also be resized as in other ROMS.
The basic MIUI Lockscreen is both simple and powerful. Like other android ROMS, it can be configured to unlock via slide, pin, facelock, or pattern.
The stock Lockscreen offers options to unlock, open dialer, open SMS, or go to camera.
Additionally, pressing the "home" button while on the lockscreen will enable the torch app for quick access to a flashlight.
When playing music, the lockscreen buttons show media controls, and with the screen off, the volume buttons can optionally control track skipping.
It should be noted that the media controls work for ALL media apps, not just the stock music player.
As I've mentioned a number of times...one of the coolest things about MIUI is the theme engine. While some other ROMS either come pre-themed or have a limited theme engine, MIUI offers a powerful theme system that can go as far as to customize third-party applications like Gmail and the Play store (as two examples).
Additionally, the theme system for the lockscreen is incredibly powerful, allowing complex programming and features provided by other applications. A great example of this is TheNest
, which actually features it's own customization menu to allow complete control of what background and text is displayed.
The theme engine has it's own online market, which features hundreds of themes ready for download. There are both paid and free themes, and a lot of them are simply stunning.
Now, I could write paragraphs alone about all the neat things you get by flipping themes in MIUI, but I've got a lot more ground to cover, so rest assured it's pretty badass.
While the dialer, contacts, and director apps all have separate icons, they all function as one app. It looks simple on the surface, but is actually very powerful.
The dialer features T9 lookup, and because this is a Sense-based ROM, it also allows some EPST codes.
Contacts can either be stored locally, in an Xiaomi account, as a Google contact, or as an outlook or email contact.
The dialer has features to merge duplicate contacts, blacklist by number or name, import/export of contacts, and auto organization. It allows support for HD/fullscreen contact images, auto-creates "favorite" contacts based on frequently used numbers, and will even generate a text-based image if a number has a stored name but no image.
And as a neat little weird aside, you can also change the dialer tone to piano notes. Not especially useful, but very fun.
The SMS app is fairly straightforward, but also offers a few unique features for a "stock" messaging app.
As was mentioned previously, if using an Xiaomi account, MIUI supports cloud messaging, similarly to how Google Voice or Hangouts works. In addition to sending messages over Wifi, you can choose to have everything backed up to your midrive, which you can then review online.
The messaging app supports group messaging, delivery report requests/notifications, lockscreen/status bar preview of messages, and quick contacts when selecting recipients. You can also send quick responses, messages timed to send at a specific time, and automatically take messages from service providers and roll it up into one message.
Additionally, one of my favorite features is the message popup function. When a text is received, a floating window will appear and you can respond to the text without having to stop what you're doing.
The music app is both beautiful and powerful. The onboard media scanner will automatically find and index all music files on the SD Card, and you customize a filesize for tracks to ignore as songs.
The is also an online lyric lookup feature, and a whole online section where you can listen to mostly chinese music...but there's also a neat FM thing that I've never used.
The player has it's own widget, as well as native display for now playing songs in the status bar and lockscreen. I think there's a visualizer too.
Clock, Compass, Calculator, Sound Recorder, and Notes Apps:
Not to detract from some more incredibly beautiful MIUI Apps, I'm going to provide a few screenshots and a brief description of each app, as they're all fairly straightforward.
The clock features four sections - alarms, stopwatch, timer and time. Alarms can be set as needed, and can either repeat or be once-only, or only go off on specific days. You know...like an alarm. Stopwatch is a stopwatch, timer is a timer, and in the time section you can specify any number of time zones to display the current time of.
The compass displays magnetic north and the current latitude longitude.
The calculator has both basic and scientific functions, with the scientific section featuring the most commonly used algebraic symbols and functions.
The sound recorder does just that...records stuff. Very simple, yet pretty.
The notes app is used to create notes which can have attached photos or video, and can also be set to open with an alarm. You can also "stick" the notes to the desktop using a widget app.