MIUI has reached another milestone with the announcement that version 6 is being released as a public beta for the Xiaomi Mi4 and Chinese versions of the Mi3 models. The Mi4 has recently been in the news because Xiaomi sold 100,000 models despite a 4G upgraded model being released in September.
Let me recap about MIUI. This is a custom ROM designed by Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi and originally based around Android 2.2 FroYo. It could be installed on many 2011 handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S. Xiaomi released a number of ‘phones running MIUI as standard. Early versions looked similar to iOS but since version 4, based around Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, MIUI has taken on a fresh new look. Around this time, Xiaomi started building in their own applications and services to replace the Google equivalents, partially driven by Chinese censorship laws that forbade Google and also from a competitive perspective.
The last major version, 5, was originally based around Android 4.1 Jelly Bean but has been updated to Android 4.4 Kit Kat. Version 5 is notable because as stock the majority of Google’s services have been removed and MIUI is to most intents and purposes an Android fork. MIUI has a distinctive look and feel. You can tell that it’s based around Android if you are familiar with Google’s operating system, but only just.
MIUI version 6 brings about many improvements including global gesture controls with a definite focus on making life easy with the device. Key improvements include the MIUI Directory and MIUI Life functions, which make it easy to use the handset to find great places to eat, pay ‘phone bills or arrange doctor appointments. You’ll find device-wide gesture controls, designed to make larger ‘phones easier to handle. The standard Google notification shade has been replaced with Xiaomi’s own transparent arrangement, which includes music controls and floating notifications so that you’re less bothered when enjoying a full-screen application such as a game. Oh and of course, MIUI v6 comes with a full blown theme editor, which means users can quickly and easily customise their device with over 5,000 themes.
Xiaomi are careful to remind users that MIUI v6 is still in beta so there may be some broken functions and perhaps instability. However, if you’re lucky enough to be rocking the Xiaomi Mi4 and would like to experience MIUI v6, visit the Xiaomi download website for instructions on upgrading. The download clocks in at just over 400 MB (by comparison, HTC’s upgrade to the One M8 was over 600 MB).