Apr 8, 2011

MIUI (Android ROM) - Review


I love my Inspire 4G. I really do. I love the uni-body design, extremely gorgeous 4.3 inch display, and its 8 megapixel camera. But one thing I hate about it is Android. Yep. I really hate Android. I think Android is ugly, makes your daily task more complicated -- at least compared to Windows Phone that is. So last night I decided to flash a custom ROM on my Inspire 4G, in hoping to find a solution to my desperate newness longing.


I stumbled upon this MIUI ROM posted at XDA. Looking at the screenshot posted, I immediately noticed that it changed the default font of Android to Helvetica. I would choose Helvetica over DroidSans in any day.

Anyway, I thought it is just that. Custom lockscreen, custom icons, and that's it. I never realized MIUI's other perks and features. And that's what I am going to talk about today. So join me will ya! (Tip: You can click any of these images for the full view.)



Note: I will often compare MIUI with Sense UI because Paras on Twitter says that Sense UI is better. I strongly disagree and I hope by this blog post I will change his mind!

HOMESCREEN


Homescreen on the MIUI on the first look right on the image above you might say that it is just like any other custom ROMs of Android. However, it is really different from any other homescreens.

First off, notice that there is no app drawer. I was kinda frustrated at first because I couldn't find it, but once I found out that the apps are automatically placed on the homescreen, I just realized how genius that was. No more uncustomizable app drawers. Your apps can be placed wherever you want on the homescreen, Plus, you can group them in folders, unlike the stock Android UI or with my previous Sense UI where you cannot put apps in folders on the app drawer. Sure you can put your apps in folders in the homescreen, but I think MIUI wins here because organizing and finding apps is now easier.

App folders work just like on the iPhone.
And let me just say, how beautiful it is that they removed that ugly rounded box that used to surround application names. With MIUI, you will see a very subtle shadow on the app names, which I think is beautiful.

But what I think is the best benefit of having no app drawer is that when you press and hold an app and drag it to the trash can, it will automatically go to the uninstallation process. It should be that easy when you want to uninstall an app, unlike on Stock Android or Sense UI, where you still need to go to Settings-Applications-Manage Applications.

Uninstalling an app is easy and fast as hell.

Another great thing on the homescreen on the MIUI is that you can have any number of homescreens as you want. For a minimalist like me, this is heaven. I can set my homescreens into just 3, and removing or adding is as simple as clicking an x button or + button on any one of them. But, if you prefer to have dozens of homescreens, YOU CAN. There are no limits here from what I can tell. Plus, you can set anyone of them to be your default homescreen just by pressing the home button on the button of each. You can also drag and move any of these homescreens to the order of your choice. You cannot get these customizations in any of the launchers and UI's out there.

Adding/removing homescreens is a delight.
Last with the homescreens, are the transition effects. These transition effects are like with the ones you get with the LauncherPro, but one thing that is unique I think is the falldown and it is my favorite. You cannot get these screen transition effects on the stock launcher or Sense UI.




NOTIFICATIONS

Notifications is where MIUI also excels at. There are basically 3 panes. Notices, apps, and toggles. On the stock Android or Sense UI, when you swipe down on the notifications bar, you will get only to the notifications screen. On MIUI, they changed that. If you swipe down on the left side, you will go to the notifications pane. If you swipe down on the right side where the indicators are, you will go to the toggles screen. I think that implementation is genius in every way.

Implementation of Notifications on MIUI.

On the notices, this is where all of your notifications go. Next is apps, where it lists your most recently used apps, and guess what. There is a "Kill Apps" button, where it eliminates any need into downloading a task killer. And the last pane is the toggles. I do not know about you, but this is the best toggle settings I have ever used. It has toggles for WiFi, cellular data, screen brightness, and even a toggle for the camera flash!! It is just amazing, where unlike before you need to go to individual settings or apps if you wanted to toggle these.

THEMES

But then the main reason why MIUI exists are the themes -- and there are a plenty of them. Unlike Sense UI, where yes, it has themes, and you can download some, but the customization is very limited as well as the downloadable content. With MIUI, not only a lot of developers are making themes for the MIUI, there are also a lot of customizations you can change.


The Theme Manager App.

Customizing your theme
You can download and manage all of your themes on the "Theme Manager" app. One downside though, is that a lot of themes are named in Chinese. But it doesn't really matter that much when you've implemented them. And one great feature of the Theme Manager is that you can edit your theme. Here, let me list the things that you can change:

BOOT ANIMATION
BOOT AUDIO
WALLPAPER
LOCKSCREEN WALLPAPER
RINGTONE
NOTIFICATION RINGTONE
ALARM
ICONS
FONTS
MESSAGING STYLE


I mean you can change FONTS! There are plenty of  downloadable fonts, both online and on the theme manager, and once you clicked apply, you're done! Again, you cannot do this in any other UI's out there. On other roms, changing anything that I listed above you need to flash a .zip file under the custom recovery, and then you need to restart multiple times which is a really slow process.

Anyway, I tried changing the font to Zegoe UI, and it is amazing how fast the change was.

Changing font is so fast.

OTHER CUSTOMIZATIONS

 So yeah. By now you can agree that MIUI is by far the superior customization of Android. They changed and tweaked a lot, and it is by far better than my old Sense UI. Not to mention MIUI runs Gingerbread. Anyway, here are some more of MIUI's customizations, which undoubtedly they changed for aesthetics, but also for functionality.


The lockscreen. If you swipe down holding the phone icon, it will redirect to the phone app. If you swipe down with the messaging icon, it will go to the messaging app. It also has a nice animation while you are charging the device.

The music app -- It automatically gather the song's lyrics and album art.

The Calendar App.

Settings. I agree it looks more like the iPhone, but it does well on categorizing your different settings. I definitely prefer this one over the stock settings.
The Camera App
The Keyboard -- It is beautiful and I experience lesser errors using this keyboard. Plus, symbol arrangement is just like with the Windows Phone, so I am really familiar with the arrangement.
Contacts app. Again, iPhonish, but as long as I do not see the green Android's face in here, I am good.
CONCLUSION


So yeah. I hope you enjoyed MIUI's features as I did. I honestly think this is the best Android implementation out there, and for the first time ever, I think that Android is on par, or maybe better looking than Windows Phone. Now that is saying a lot. But MIUI has proven it.


 
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