MIUI: the best smartphone user interface?

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

For the past two years, there has been a long and painful war fought between parties with similar ambitions but opposing opinions; a war between iPhone and Android users. At the centre of this great debate is the question, "Which system has the best user experience?"

iPhone offers a clean and simple experience; there are no app drawers, no widgets and no pull-down notifications. These are, of course, the very things that Android users love so much about Google's platform. The notification curtain is a handy way to centralise system and personal messages and live, web-enabled widgets are key to the Android UI.

Recently we found a new firmware mod for Android which we think is almost spot-on and definitely offers food for thought for both Apple and Google. MIUI is firmware that originated in China. Luckily for us, some clever coders got their hands on the firmware and have translated it, the most recent results of which are featured in this gallery.

To install this firmware you first have to root your Android phone. If you have an HTC Desire and feel confident that you can get root access you can follow our guide here — similar guides for other phone models can be found online. However, we should point out that rooting your phone will void your manufacturer's warranty and could have undesirable results, so proceed with caution.

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Lyndon posted a comment   

iOS, HTC Sense, Cyanogen, Oxygen... used em all. Miui is the best interface I have ever used - Well done.


feicipet posted a comment   

You can criticize the lack of originality all you want, but what really impressed me was the fact that they executed it so darned well compared to those OTHER phone manufacturers who're still struggling to get their custom UIs right. It's as smooth as butter, something that I definitely did not expect looking at the screenshots. For a bunch of community modders, I'm impressed.


jc78 posted a comment   

Best UI is SPB mobile shell on most platforms. I've tried others and finally settled for this one. You can arrange it anyway you like. Check it out.


D posted a comment   

It looks too cluttered and ugly. In fact, it looks like one of those crappy UIs you'd see on one of those fake devices. I'll stick with one UI or the other, thanks.


wh123 posted a comment   

This is not the droid you are looking for, move along, move along.


Zig posted a comment   

All very well, but can this MIUI display my day's agenda, being appointments AND tasks on one (home or lock) screen?

This a very basic and fundamental PDA function that even old Palm Pilots could perform.

Apple and Google seem determined to ignore this simple productivity tool and absurdly, it is left to modders and jailbreakers to fix.


RichardM1 posted a comment   

Can't help thinking its a cherry picking exercise from the best bits of Android and the best bit of iOS4. In so far as it seem a reasonable combination of the two is good. But nothing new here.


johnny posted a comment   

anyone know which version of fancy widget is needed to get that look in the screenshot?


Tom posted a comment   

I ran this for a while (using the RodriguezStyle ROM) - it was a novelty and there were a few good things about it (first ROM with the FM Radio app, now built into Cyanogen). I still like lots of its aesthetics, but several things annoyed me - the font especially I didn't like, I thought it was a bad departure from the standard Android font which I find much more readable. I'm back to stock now.


PHuZZy posted a comment   

Best iOS COPY is about all.
Much rather my WP7 interface thanks

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