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MIUI 7 launches with more colour and functionality
Sanshey Biswas  22nd Aug 2015

Hugo Barra at the MIUI 7 launch’s keynote.

Xiaomi is a software company, I'm a software guy. We're here today to talk about software. Hugo Barra, speaking at the MIUI 7 keynote, held in New Delhi last week, reaffirmed the fact that Xiaomi's focus hasn't strayed from its actual flagship, the MIUI ROM. The reason they started making phones was to let people who were wary of "flashing" their devices with custom ROMs to experience the customisability and finish of MIUI. Over a span of five years, the MIUI ROM has graduated from running on the first Nexus device, the Nexus One, to a ROM that's supported on 48 phones. And as Barra asserted, MIUI is one of the few software built by the community and for the community. With MUIU 7, Xiaomi is increasing the level of customisation, speed, battery life and memory manwearagement.

Themes

Jai Mani, the Lead Product Manager at Mi India, told us that even though the MIUI lets users customise everything on their phone, from the launcher to the look and feel of core apps such as Settings and SMS, many users were still stuck on the default appearance because that's what the Xiaomi phones originally come equipped with. Now, when you first fire up the ROM, you'll be given an option between Rosé, Pink Blush, Ocean Breeze and High Life. The four UIs are designed with different personality types. So while the Ocean Breeze and Pink Blush will appeal to a younger user-base, Rosé and High Life target a mature palate.

Lock Screen

With MIUI7, the lock screen becomes more interactive and lively. Theme designers will be able to create more animated and functional lock screens than was previously possible. Bollywood, cricket, football, gaming and music are a few themes around which the new lock screens have been designed. One of them swaps the regular passcode for musical notes that need to be played to unlock the screen, while others let you play lightweight games or stay updated on scores right on the lock screen. Designers of themes will also have Muse, a tool to create themes for MIUI. And to get the community going, Xiaomi will organise roadshows, contest, training festivals with prizes worth Rs 1 Crore up for grabs.

Performance

MIUI might grab more eyeballs with the upcoming themes, but every user looks for a phone that performs as well as it looks before anything else. That is why MIUI 7 has been souped up with a host of improvements in terms of performance, data consumption and battery life. Apps launch a lot faster on the MIUI 7, as per the slow motion video comparing the speeds on MIUI 6 to that of 7, played at the event. But we won't actually know until the launch. Background activity of apps will become easier to manage with the ability to tighten the noose on apps that eat up battery life even when in the background. The initial tests show an improvement of 10% in battery life — that might not seem a lot but, when spread over a longer period of time, sums up to a significant figure. MIUI's Security app will include a data saving feature which is a re-branded version of the Opera Max app. So instead of sending and receiving data directly from the providers, it will get compressed on its way to the serves by passing through Opera's and making sure your data plan doesn't take a hit as it currently does.

Newbies

The performance optimisation, themes and lock screen improvements were built on top of features that already existed on the platform. Besides these, Xiaomi also showed us some neat tricks that will appeal to Indian users. The Visual IVR now supports major companies from the fields of DTH, telecoms, food, banks and travel to let you reach your desired extension without having to wait for the automated voice to read out all the options. MIUI 7 also supports Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi and Assamese, in addition to the six Indian languages that already integrated on MIUI 6. And to make it easier for everyone to read the text on these screens, XXL font rendition blows up the text size without compromising on the intricate layout of various apps.

They've made it easier for the elderly with weak eyesight to read on the phone. But they haven't left babies out of the party either. The Baby album on MIUI brings all your babies' pictures in one place with the help of facial recognition. And you can also set the lock screen to show a new picture of them every day. Because, as Barra said, that's where babies belong. And if your toddler has a fascination for smartphones but returns them with apps deleted or moved around instead of just playing games or watching videos, the Child Mode will let you choose the apps they have access to and nothing else.

MIUI 7 will also be a step towards a more peaceful experience. You can now bar apps from showing notification by blacklisting them directly from the notification panel. If you have an Mi Band on and are sleeping, the phone will automatically go into a DND mode till you wake up. When OTPs from a bank transaction show up as a notification on your screen, you'll be prompted to quickly copy the code with the press of a button, eliminating the need to go through the entire message. All non-contact messages, like the promotional ones, can be bunched under one banner that stays at the top of your screen so that your messages inbox feels more personal than it does now.

No new devices were launched with the new OS, but the limited edition Mi 4is in yellow, blue and pink will be available on sale on the Mi store. These are all great features but they are still in the beta stage of development. Which means it will be at least a couple of months before the stable version hits the phones. If you can't wait for the release, enrol for the MIUI 7 beta programme as it supports all Xiaomi phones launched in India till date. The beta testers will roll out from Monday, but to change your device to beta, you'll have to flash the beta ROM, which means a data wipe but does not void the warranty.

 
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