Of the many variants of Android ROMS that are available today MIUI is a unique proposition. Where other ROMS look to improve upon the groundwork already laid by Google, MIUI very much heads in a different direction. With its complete lack of an app drawer and unified square icons there’s something decidedly ‘Apple’ going on here.
MIUI started life as a Chinese ROM, there was no intention of releasing it to an audience outside of China. However it soon gained a following of developers who tirelessly translated and modified the ROM into the many versions of MIUI that are available today. This in turn has created a larger worldwide base of MIUI users who swear by their chosen Android UI. Not only is it a visually appealing ROM but it also runs at a noticeably swift pace making it a popular choice for many users.
The official MIUI ROM is updated every Friday based on the feedback from its user base; at the time of writing the current version runs Android 2.3.5.
Installing MIUI is a painless process and worth trying if your handset is starting to feel a touch lethargic. In this tutorial we’ll demonstrate the steps involved with installing MIUI and getting it up and running. To perform this you’ll need a rooted handset (with Clockwork Recovery installed) along with the free apps ROM Manager and Titanium Backup.
Step 1 Backup Your Current ROM
Using Rom Manager it’s possible to take a snapshot of your phone’s current state should you wish to undo everything. Open Rom Manager and select ‘Backup Rom’. Follow the prompts and wait for the process to finish (this will take a short while so allow yourself enough time).
Step 2 Save Your Precious App Data
If you need to bring any specific app data (or Angry Bird scores) over to your new ROM you’ll be unable to extract it from your consolidated Rom backup. Open Titanium Backup and select ‘Backup/Restore’. Press ‘Menu > Batch’ and then press the ‘Run – Backup All User Apps’.
Step 3 Time to install MIUI
The easiest way to install MIUI is by using ROM Manager. Open it, select ‘Download ROM’ and choose one of the available MIUI versions. We’ve gone with MIUI Android. Be sure to install any additional language packs otherwise your new Android UI will mostly be in Chinese.
Step 4 Download, Wipe, Reboot, Install
Once your chosen ROM has downloaded a pre-installation menu will appear. Tick both ‘Wipe Dalvik Cache’ and ‘Wipe Data & Cache’. Click OK and the phone will reboot before automatically installing your new ROM. Again, this may take time and could involve a few reboots so be prepared to wait.
Step 5 Rebooting for the first time
When the phone starts up it may be unresponsive at first due to the Dalvik Cache rebuilding. Allow the phone a minute to get up to speed and when it’s ready, open the Marketplace app. Sign into Google and download Titanium Backup.
Step 6 Authorise Non-Marketplace Applications
Go back to the homescreen and press ‘Settings > Programs > Development Settings > Unknown Sources’. This allows the installation of non-Marketplace applications. Without this, Titanium Backup will have trouble restoring any saved apps. Open Titanium Backup and select ‘Backup / Restore’.
Step 7 Restore your applications
Find an app you want to restore and press it. Select ‘Restore’ then ‘App & Data’ from the pop up menus. The phone will then run through the standard app install procedure and restore it to its pre-MIUI state. Repeat this for any other apps you wish to restore.
Step 8 Get rid of the bloatware
MIUI includes a few apps that may be surplus to requirements. For example, if you use Gmail you don’t really need the MIUI Email app. Using Titanium Backup’s ‘Backup / Restore’ tab, select any unwanted apps and press un-install. Remember, some of these are important system apps so be careful.
Step 9 Organise your icons
The lack of an app tray in MIUI can result in a considerable amount of icon shuffling following a fresh install. Use folders to keep any unwanted icons hidden-away together. It’s also possible to hold down an icon with one finger and swipe through homescreens with another.
Step 10 Try out a new theme
Bloatware aside, MIUI has some very good pre-installed apps. The music app is easily on a par with similar apps available on the Marketplace. There’s also the excellent Theme app which house an ever growing collection of free user created themes. Try it out and spruce up your MIUI interface.