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MIUI 12 review: A delight to use

Xiaomi's MIUI 12 brings a number of upgrades, including visual changes and security features. Here's all you need to know about it.

Sushant Talwar | September 11, 2020 | Updated 15:04 IST
MIUI 12
MIUI 12

Highlights

  • MIUI 12 is arguably the company's best version of MIUI to date.
  • MIUI 12 brings with itself a lot of privacy and security features.
  • There are also a lot of visual upgrades that have been introduced with MIUI 12.

Xiaomi recently announced the MIUI 12 update for its phones in India, and over the past few weeks, it has started to roll it out to more and more users across the country. While the operating system now finds a place on some of the more affordable devices in the company's portfolio -- including phones from sub-brand Redmi and Pocophone smartphones -- the Android 10-based UI has been available for some time on the company's current flagship, the Mi 10.

This new version of Xiaomi's operating system for smartphones brings a number of upgrades, including visual changes and new features. Xiaomi appears to have built the code from the ground up, with the company spreading new animations and features throughout the user interface. The OS also brings with it improved performance with the Mi-Light Core Animation framework to improve the smoothness of the software.

We've had the chance to spend some time with the operating system that we've tried on the Mi 10. Here's our take on the upgrades and features it has to offer.

MIUI 12 review: Focus on privacy

Over the past few years, Xiaomi has had to face some difficult questions on the privacy and security front. However, with MIUI 12, the company appears ready to answer all these questions by launching what is arguably the most secure mobile operating system it has created to date.

This is because, with MIUI 12, there is a serious focus on privacy. As part of the new privacy and security features, MIUI 12 can now notify users every time an app or game is accessing crucial information, such as access to the microphone, camera, storage, gallery, location. Interestingly, this was part of Android 10 but Xiaomi disabled it for MIUI 11, but the feature now finds embedded in the new OS.

There's also a virtual identity feature in MIUI 12 which basically gives apps and websites a temporary ID, that provides a virtual identity to apps or websites, to ensure better security for the data that you feed them. In essence, this is a feature that's similar to sign in with Google. Additionally, Xiaomi is also adding secure sharing options for photos. This will automatically remove location and metadata from images.

MIUI 12 review: Revamped animations

Apart from bringing in a number of security and privacy features, MIUI 12 also focuses on bringing in new visual elements in the form of animations to make the UI appear more fluid. One of the core reasons behind this is the updated rendering engine for showing smoother curves as well as real-world light and shadows, advanced colour mixing, real-time blur, better anti-aliasing rounded corners, improved curvature matching the phone's display, curves, and dynamic rounded corners.

There's also a new physical engine that alters the animations based on the touch input. The app animations are so defined that users can also close and open an app midway during an animation. The new version of the OS also brings new device rotation animations which also have been refined.

MIUI 12 review: Fresh design

Another important thing to note with MIUI 12 is the reworked UI design. With MIUI 12 there are new Always On Display items, along with new wallpapers. In our time with the UI, we were left impressed with the dynamic wallpapers, which are essentially live wallpapers -- but a lot more dynamic.

Moving on, there's also a new Control Center, which is very similar to what we've seen on iOS before. It is pulled down from the top and provides easy access to toggles such as brightness slider, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular data. Apart from this, MIUI 12 also brings with itself an app drawer, which is not activated by default, but can be enabled by going to Settings, then Home Screen, and then finally switching the toggle on for the setting. We were also quite impressed with the Dark Mode which is quite good on the device.

MIUI 12 review: Floating windows and improved navigation gestures

Xiaomi's MIUI also gets new navigation gestures, which allows the user to go back from a page when you swipe either from the left or right of the screen These gestures also include swiping up from the bottom of the screen to go to the home screen, and swipe up and hold from the bottom to bring up the overview pane.

While these are basic gestures, that have been previously seen on other Android 10 devices, what's new here is that the device also gets Floating Window using the Floating Windows button overview pane. Although all apps aren't supported, others like YouTube and WhatsApp greatly benefit from this feature, as they can be opened whenever you want without first having to exit the current app you are in at the moment.

MIUI 12 review: What's our take

In our time using the MI 10 running MIUI 12, we've been very impressed with the user interface. Not only is it the most refined and feature-rich mobile operating system from Xiaomi to date, but it is also right there on top with some of the best custom takes on Android 10 available right now.

From its revamped animations to privacy and data security, there's a lot to get excited about the MIUI 12. While the visual upgrades definitely make MIUI 12 great to look at, it's arguably the focus on improving security that makes this user interface great to use.

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