Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An hour with MIUI Android on my OG DROID

Last night, I installed the MIUI Android build from on my OG DROID. This is my first experience with MIUI, and it was mixed. I think the build was great (major h/t to Trey Motes), and I think the MIUI devs have done a terrific job showing me that my phone can look drastically different than I'm used to. I've posted links to MIUI Android (where
you can download a ROM for your phone) as well as (where you can also download a ROM for your phone) as well as MIUI (where you can read about the official project and their own MIUI phone that recently hit the news).

Things I liked:
  • Clean theme made GMail look so much nicer
  • Notifications pull-down included toggles for everything I'd want to toggle (WiFi/Bluetooth/etc.)
  • Lots of customizability (starting from lock-screen backgrounds and going all the way down to lots of other stuff that you usually only see in 3rd-party launchers and such)
  • Trey Motes has bundled lots of useful apps with his distro (ROM Manager, WiFi Tether, etc.) out of the "box"
Things I didn't like:
  • The iOS-style launcher – All of your apps are on the pages of the launcher. You can then create folders to group them together. There's no "app drawer" that shows you all of your apps so that you can only put a select few on your desktop screens. Some people might like this (iOS users sure do), but I've gotten used to Android-y things like using *FolderOrganizer* to tag apps (possibly with multiple tags), and so it's a major departure to go to an iOS-like organization style.
  • The iOS-style dialer and contacts list – I'm not sure what's smart about the "smart dialer" (but I didn't play too much, and it was too late to call anyone). The contacts list (and other lists on the system) displays the iOS-like letters down the right where you can click on the tiny letter you want. Android's typical way of doing this is displaying a pull-tab on the right that you can drag (opposite semantics as flicking; so more like a Desktop scroll). I like the way Android does it better than iOS.
  • Android Wizard doesn't run and Market didn't sync apps – The wizard that usually runs the first time you boot most ROMs didn't run, and so I had to add my accounts via the settings menu. What was probably worse was that the Market didn't automatically start downloadiing my apps, which is something I've come to appreciate (I know there are 3rd-party ways of backing up and restoring apps, but I don't use them if I don't have to).
  • The Music app didn't integrate with Google Music – The music app follows a bit of the style of the iTunes app in iOS, but it looks markedly different. In fact, it looks different than the stock Android music app too. So it has lots of features, but it's not like anything you're going to expect. It also didn't sync with Google Music, which really sucks after spending so much time uploading songs to the service.
  • General lack of integration with Google services – The MIUI tries not to be so Google-dependent... Some may find that a strength, and some may find that a weakness.
So I really don't have any complaints about the build or the dev's, but I'm just not sure I'm the intended demographic for the new look and feature set. I really think it's cool, but I just don't think it's something I want to use day to day. So I'm looking forward to whatever else Peter Alfonso tells me I need (he's like my new Steve Jobs).

I hear that next week Trey Motes will release a MIUIAndroid release for the OG DROID using a version of Peter Alfonso's kernel that is newer than anything you can get pre-built from him on his distro sites (I wonder if it's a 0.4 kernel? If so, I wonder if it has the same bugs that has been concerned about). So I imagine that performance of MIUIAndroid will be much nicer. It was fine when I tried it, but I didn't install many apps.

So give it a shot. When I tried it, I downloaded the ROM from (ROM Manger's version was a 1.7.x version; I used the 1.8.12 version from; note that it has a HOTFIX (you'll see it in the forums that it links you too)) and used ROM Manager to backup my existing setup and install MIUIAndroid (you could try, but I got the feeling that Trey Motes does a fantastic job customizing MIUIAndroid for OG DROID, just like Peter Alfonso does with Android/AOSP). When I decided I didn't like it, I used ROM Manager (which comes bundled with MIUIAndroid) to restore my old setup. That was my hour-ish with MIUI.


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