Xiaomi may be best known for its competitively priced smartphones, which have soaked up marketshare in China at the expense of Samsung and other Android makers, but it also has its own version of Android. Today, the Chinese company unveiled a new iteration of its MIUI platform, which was first created back in 2010 before Xiaomi had begun selling phones and now counts 150 million users.
The standout feature of the global edition of MIUI 7 — which launches in beta on August 24 and still looks a lot like Apple’s iOS — is probably a partnership with Opera which, the companies claim, will compress mobile data usage in browsers and other apps by as much as 50 percent. The feature makes use of Opera’s Max technology — which now works with YouTube and Netflix videos — and is baked into MIUI 7 under the ‘Data Saver’ feature. Also filed under performance, Xiaomi claimed that the newest version of its software can help apps run up to 30 percent faster, while consuming 10 less battery life.
That’s about the only major addition, and this definitely feels more iterative than previous MIUI updates. In terms of design, Xiaomi has thrown in a number of new tweaks that it said makes its software more malleable than ever. ‘Showtime’ lets users assign a five-second looping video to each contact, which plays when they call, an image of the day feature showcases different pics on the lockscreen, while a new “XXL” font size is for those who moan that text on their phone isn’t large enough.
As a parent, I’d be pretty impressed if Xiaomi’s ‘Baby Album’ feature, which uses facial recognition to organize photos of a child in a dedicated album, works as the company claimed. Other MIUI additions include four new system UI designs and tighter integration with Xiaomi’s Mi Band wearable.
In another show that Xiaomi is prioritizing India as its lead global (read: not Chinese) market, the global MIUI launch was held in New Delhi — the Chinese version of MIUI was unveiled earlier this month — and many of these new features will roll out to Indian users first. Xiaomi is, of course, now making smartphones on-the-ground in India, and earlier this year the Mi 4i became its first device designed for Indian consumers.