MIUI Follow-up #2

Some of my first posts on this blog documented a test run of MIUI – a customized version of the Android smartphone operating system, developed by the Chinese company Xiomi (part 1, part 2, follow-up).

Time has passed, and while I haven’t spent much time with the OS since then (I only tried a never version briefly on an HTC Desire X which was plagued by bad headphone sound so that it couldn’t be my daily driver), it is interesting to see how Xiaomi and their products are beginning to get attention in mainstream media, like these articles (in Danish) from the Danish national radio’s website:

(they comment both on Xiaomi’s growth and how they are inspired by other products).

I haven’t seen a Xiaomi phone in real life yet, but look forward to getting the opportunity one day. It probably won’t change my own product preferences (too Apple-like), but that consumers in general get more than one choice is a good thing (and everybody having iPhones or Samsungs soon gets boring)

MIUI Test – Followup

Last weekend I brought my MIUI Desire with iPhone inspired theme to a family get together and compared it to the real thing. And they were indeed very much alike. Applying a skin with lookalike lock screens and icon packs doesn’t chance essentials and after all, Android and iOS meets the same base requirements: making a smartphone run. Thinking about it, my past experience with Symbian and BlackBerry confirms this too (and now I feel like getting a Windows phone, just to be thorough : )

I learnt something, which was great, and had an opportunity to show some of the possibilities Android offers. That was too.

MIUI Test Run – Part 2

Thursday
After several days of MIUI leaving good impressions, I have decided to add a handful of social network apps to see what happens to performance with those running in the background. Again Link2SD is needed to squeeze it all in: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. And somewhere during the installations of these four, with their checks for status and integrations to contact list etc. the phone start being more sluggish.

Friday
more  sluggishness, also the Play store is moving down towards the slow performance on the other phone. So the more apps that are running, the more sluggish the device. No big surprise and certainly not the  fault of the OS. Just a reminder how much smartphones have evolved since the 2010 launch of the Desire.

Saturday
I settle for the final theme, called something Chinese and “Iphone”. Surely some icons look familiar from Apple screenshots I have seen and surely there are more Chinese  Characters showing up on screen, though nothing that impedes usage in any way.

Sunday again – conclusion 
My initial expectation when I started this test run was that it would be different from the Android experience that I am used to. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. As it turned out,  I am pleasantly surprised (which maybe I shouldn’t be – MIUI is one of the major custom ROMs).

In use the system is running at least as smoothly as I am used to,  and the different themes are a fun to customize the experience to my own mood and preference. Not surprising it looks like packing more apps unto the device slows it down regardless the ROM being used, so in this very qualitative study I will not draw any conclusion of MIUI vs. CM7 performance. Perhaps more interesting to investigate are the launchers where ADWLauncher EX offers a lot more customization that the MIUI launchers,  customization that must come with some cost on performance (that could also be said about MIUI’s theme support –  is it coincidence that I first noted performance  degradation when I started applying new themes?)

I am back on my usual phone now (its camera is better), but look forward to trying out a newer version of MIUI if it supports whatever my next handset will be.

MIUI Test Run – Part 1

With the (DK) availability dates of the year’s last top Androids getting closer(even the HTC One) there probably won’t come a better time to do a test run of MIUI on one of my older phones. I tried it before, but quickly had the feeling that it wasn’t something for me and went back to the more standard android experience with CyanogenMod 7.2 on an HTC Desire S (I have read that MIUI is supposed to deliver a more iPhone-like experience and maybe it does: I have next to no experience with those devices – guess I should ask an owner for a demo). Now, usually when I meet such an attitude I encourage openness of mind and some patience when facing the New. So I will eat my own words and give it a serious chance, that is, use an MIUI phone as my primary for at least a week. So here we go, starting Sunday Apr 21, installing an HTC Desire with MIUI version 2.4.13 (based on Android 2.3.7). I expect a lot can have happened to the MIUI experience since then, so I should revisit this once I get a new device. In any case diversity is great.

Sunday
MIUI is installed painlessly on the Desire. I get it connected to Wi-Fi at home and setup mail, starting with the Exchange 2010 connection to outlook.com for calendar & contacts and my primary IMAP mail account. It all seems to work. Got some other commitments in the day, so I keep the SIM card in my other phone.

Monday
I move the SIM to the MIUI phone and go to work. On the way in the train I start installing my apps as I need them: Swiftkey, Spotify and Tasks are first. To get a fair result, I will keep the number of installed apps down, to avoid overloading an older device that was not build for today’s heavier apps. Quickly I remember to also install Link2SD, without which I run out of space almost immediately.

After few hours use I also note the first small annoyance, namely the automatic brightness setting that doesn’t adapt well with my office. It is easy to find the right checkbox in settings though.

Over the day and evening I install more and more stuff, so that I can use the phone as I always would.. An interesting fact is that it actually seem more responsive than the CM 7.2 running on the other phone. The way apps are stored on the screen instead of app library takes some getting used to and extra work setting up folders. I wonder is it more a question about launchers being different? At the end of the days I find out how the theme selection feature works and start downloading some – interesting stuff, and weird/fun to see Chinese named stuff downloading on the phone (as long as it done by my intention).

Tuesday
A New morning and I found out that the standard MIUI calendar (or contacts list) includes a Birthday notification feature. Very nice. Am bringing the phone to work today with no backup (well, got a company BB Curve 9300 which can used for calling and company, but not really other smartphone stuff, except Spotify).

Another nice surprise with MIUI is that so far the Play Store app is much faster than on my other phone. I don’t know the inner workings of the app, so perhaps I will also see performance dip over time as I install more and more apps. Or perhaps there is one or more apps that kills the performance, and sooner or later I will install one of those.

The grievance of the day is that MIUI’s mail client does not support push of messages, so instead messages are checked every 15 minutes. Should be easy to adapt to.

Wednesday
Bringing the MIUI phone along all of yesterday as my single phone went well and I could dial and receive without issue. Which isn’t as trivial as it sounds – not only because of the tendency smartphones have of being more smart than phone, but because the phone app works well, letting me dial back with a single tap on the number in the calling log. In comparison the CM 7.2 call log requires two taps for this task, but offers a more detailed log and some other actions when tapping a call log. Won’t say one is better than the other.

Adding to the list of little funny things in the system, the default search engine is note google.com, but instead I meet baidu.com. Good to be reminded that not everything is *Google* and that many things in China are different from what I am used to.

In the late evening I see the phone restart for the first time. It happened just as I was going to read a new text message by accessing from the lock screen, so there is several links in the chain that could have been broken.