Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi launched the version of its MIUI 7 user interface that will run on handsets it sells outside China, at an event in New Delhi on Aug. 19.
MIUI (Mi user interface) is one of many such “skins” that smartphone vendors have developed to differentiate their products, as they all essentially run on the Android operating system built and distributed by Google Inc. in an open source model.
Among the features that MIUI 7 brings to Xiaomi’s handsets, running on top of the latest Lollipop 5.1 version of Android, are improved battery life, faster loading of apps and a way to partially lock the phone when in use by children, to eliminate harmful or inappropriate software and content.
Xiaomi is releasing 4 different “systems” of MIUI 7 for users outside China.
MIUI 7 also has some India-specific features that were revealed Wednesday, given that the market is the company’s largest outside China. Among these features is an “Interactive Visual Response” instead of voice response, which can be used for banking, booking air tickets and for some transactions at “more from 50 Indian partners including Citibank, ICICI bank, Spicejet, Indigo, Tata Sky, HeroMotoCorp, and more,” Xiaomi said.
Xiaomi has also released several India-specific themes and home screens, including one that shows a game of cricket in animation when the screen is locked, and another that allows users to change the wardrobe of popular Hindi cinema star Shah Rukh Khan.
The smartphone maker has also continued to add features that connect its different products in useful ways. For instance, one can be wearing Xiaomi’s Mi Band fitness and sleep monitor, and program MIUI 7 to turn a connected phone to “do not disturb” mode when the band detects the user is asleep.
The global version of MIUI 7 will start rolling out on Aug. 24, and is currently supported for seven devices including the entry-level Redmi 1S and Redmi 2; current premium phone Mi 4; the Mi 3, with which Xiaomi made its India entry last year; mid-range handsets Redmi Note 3G and Redmi Note 4G; and the Mi 4i, which was launched from India earlier this year.
However, the much-anticipated Redmi Note 2, which was launched in China alongside the domestic version of MIUI 7, and sold 800,000 units in the first 12 hours of an initial sale at home, wasn’t mentioned at the India event Wednesday, disappointing many. On Aug. 20, a batch of Mi 4i, will go on sale in India, in different colors, the company said.