Steven Blum has written more than 2,000 blog posts as a founding member of AndroidPIT's English editorial team. A graduate of the University of Washington, Steven Blum also studied Journalism at George Washington University in Washington D.C. for two years. Since then, his writing has appeared in The Stranger, The Seattle P-I, Blackbook Magazine and Venture Villlage. He loves the HTC One and hopes the company behind it still exists in a few years.
MIUI is a Chinese ROM that offers a heavily-modified UI, doing away with many of the things we commonly associate with Android.
The MIUI ROM is special. It feels a bit like Apple's iOS but with enough distinctive features that give it a different sheen. The classic app deck is gone. Instead, all the apps are available from the home screen.
While the homescreen appears at first glance a bit confusing and bloated, in time you get used to it. Still, I much prefer the standard Android home screen.
One thing I love about MIUI is that the custom ROM brings a lot of its own apps, which not only look stylish but are also very functional. For example, there is a note-taking app and file manager directly accessible via the homescreen. You can see below:
(Notiz means "note" in German. Everything else should be pretty self-explanatory.)
Even system apps have been re-designed. The gallery app has received a complete facelift and looks totally different, even as it manages the same editing functions.
Also pre-installed: multiple security apps, including an anti-virus app, a password safe and a backup option. This makes MIUI safe for beginner Android owners and is a very convenient feature for just about everyone else.
If you aren't satisfied with the appearance of MIUI, you can also choose a new theme from a catalogue, but you can only download a new theme if you have a "Xiaomi" (MIUI) account.
A few downsides:
The German version of MIUI 3.1.18 has a few unfortunate mistakes. The stock browser, for one, will not start. Sometimes the home button doesn't bring me home either.
One other problem: screen lock doesn't appear to work on the Nexus 7. No matter which one I try to use, my screen won't lock. Since I've only tested MIUI on my Nexus 7, of course i cannot say whether this is a general or device-specific problem.
I wouldn't use MIUI in day-to-day tasks because of the errors mentioned above. But if you want a completely different look, and have the smarts to backup all of your apps and settings, it could be worth it for you. Aeshetically, I appreciate MIUI, but I don't think the positives outweigh the negatives – for me, at least.
Which custom ROM do you think I should try next? Leave a comment and I'll install the most popular answer on my Nexus 7!