China’s Xiaomi Corp. is set to release the latest version of its smartphone user interface software, MIUI 7, in two days for its home market. For the rest of the world, the company will unveil the product on Aug. 19 at an event in India.
Xiaomi is giving its “fans” worldwide a chance to attend the global event in India through a contest. Those who win an entry, however, will have to bear their own expenses to attend the event. Details of the contest, which involves writing why one is really keen on attending the launch, can be found on the official MIUI forum.
Customized user interfaces on top of the stock Android from Google Inc. are a way for smartphone brands to differentiate themselves in a scenario where the underlying software is the same and hardware specifications are increasingly commoditized.
Xiaomi’s MIUI, version 6 of which is still rolling out to some makes of the company’s smartphones, is widely seen as one of the more user-friendly Android “skins,” offering useful features including blocking pesky calls from telecallers, or using IVR systems to make reservations. The skins also often incorporate interactive themes for the look and feel of the smartphone screen, icons and menus, sometimes localized to reflect a region’s culture, festivals and sports.
Apps that are sold on Xiaomi’s online store that work within the MIUI ecosystem are a source of revenue for the company, especially in China, where much of Google’s services aren’t allowed. While in India Android apps from Google’s store can be downloaded and used on Xiaomi’s phones, the company coaxes users to use their “Mi accounts” as well.
MIUI 6, the current version, streamlined many processes, simplified menus and made them more intuitive, but also added elegant touches. For example, MIUI allows uninstalling more than one app at the same time and when the icons are dragged to the wastebasket, they burst into multicolored bubbles reflecting the colors present in the icons.