Xiaomi Launches MIUI 9: Image Search, Smart Assistant, Smart App Launcher, and Performance Enhancements

Xiaomi Launches MIUI 9: Image Search, Smart Assistant, Smart App Launcher, and Performance Enhancements

At an event in China today, Xiaomi launched the highly anticipated latest version of their ROM, MIUI 9. Xiaomi has been teasing MIUI 9 for a couple weeks now with hints and previews, so it is nice to finally get a look at the release version.

MIUI 9 brings a new Android version to some devices, upgrading a select few to 7.0 or later, although unfortunately some devices will be stuck on earlier versions still. While not all devices will be getting the full Android version bump, MIUI still is bringing new features and security updates where possible. The headline features for this release are Xiaomi’s Smart App Launcher, Smart Assistant, and Image search.

Smart App Launcher acts a bit like Google Now on Tap, analysing what you are currently doing in your app to make recommendations on which app you may want to open up. This allows for seamless switching into other apps that you may need to use, without having to go to the homescreen (or appdrawer if using an alternate launcher) and find the app that you need.

Xiaomi Smart Assistant joins the already crowded AI helper market, going up against Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby, and others. Smart Assistant aims to organize all of your vital information in one easily accessible hub. You can access all of your notes, calendar events, reminders and other personally relevant information through this hub, with Smart Assistant attempting to show you the most relevant information at any point in time.

Image Search is an attempt at Google Photos style search by Xiaomi. It allows you to search for people, locations, expressions, events, documents, screenshots, and whatever else you can think of. Xiaomi is striving to bring natural language search to image organization, as part of their larger Universal Search function in MIUI 9.

Xiaomi MIUI 9 Improvements

MIUI 9 brings a plethora of other optimizations as well, which Xiaomi is highlighting, some of which sound distinctly like the improvements brought by Android 7.0 itself. It will be interesting to see which of these improvements make it into phones that won’t be getting Android 7.0. One feature which Xiaomi is highlighting is the Dynamic Resource Allocation, which helps ensure that foreground apps get priority over background apps. This sounds a lot like the Project Svelte and Daydream related optimizations for Android 7.0, which focused heavily on background processes, although Xiaomi may have made further device specific enhancements over and above what Google added. The new file system likely will bring some nice improvements as well, although it is not yet clear which file system Xiaomi is switching to. It may be F2FS, which has recently been gaining popularity, including being used by Motorola in some devices, and by OnePlus in the OnePlus 3T.

App launch speeds was also a major focus for Xiaomi’s development for MIUI 9, to the point where they are claiming that it will have “Explosively fast app launch-times”. It is not clear yet what method they will be using to gain the faster launch times. Whether it is intelligent app pre-caching, or a result of read improvements brought by F2FS, or even something like Qualcomm’s app opening CPU scaling boost found in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and 821 chipsets, it is always welcome to hear that phones will be quicker and more responsive.

Global expansion continues to be a focus for Xiaomi, with them taking steps towards it throughout their product line, in both their software improvements and their hardware portfolio. During their keynote, they highlighted that they now have devices in 142 countries with 55 languages and 2.8 billion active users. While the 2.8 billion active users number seems as bit high (as that is higher than the total number of Android devices with access to Play Services, and would mean that one out of every three people are currently using Xiaomi), it is likely in reference to 2.8 billion devices rather than users, as many users may have more than one Xiaomi device.

Xiaomi is warning people that many of their headline features will not be available in the Global ROM just yet, and are currently restricted to their MIUI China ROM. They are stressing that they will continue to work to bring the missing features to the Global ROM as well, and hope to have a more consistent experience between the two ROMs soon.

We are highly anticipating Xiaomi’s release of the GPLed MIUI 9 Kernel Sources, and can’t wait to see the new custom ROMs that it will help build.

Which feature of MIUI 9 are you most excited for? Will you be flashing over to MIUI 9, or will you sticking with a different ROM? Let us know in the comments below!


About author

Steven Zimmerman
Steven Zimmerman

Steven grew up wishing he could take the internet everywhere with him. His first smartphone was an HTC Legend, and he's been tinkering and playing with Android ever since. With a background in accounting, he strives to bring a unique perspective to the tech journalism world.