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How to get the MIUI 7 beta onto your Xiaomi smartphone

By Alvin Soon - 29 Aug 2015

What’s new in MIUI 7 and how to back up your Xiaomi device

 

The MIUI 7 Beta is here!

Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 beta dropped on 24th August, right out of the gate the new UI is compatible with six of Xiaomi’s smartphones, and can be downloaded right now.

 

What is MIUI?

MIUI (short for ‘MI User Interface’, pronounced “me, you, I”) is Xiaomi’s custom Android interface, designed for its smartphones and tablets. Besides bringing its own unique look to Android, MIUI also has a list of unique custom features (some of which you may not have known).

MIUI was originally based on Android and CyanogenMod, and developed further by Xiaomi. MIUI doesn’t ship with Google Play Services in China, but MIUI devices sold outside China ship with Google Play Services and the Google Play Store pre-installed.

MIUI versions 1 to 5. Source: Xiaomi forums.

 

Which devices work with MIUI 7?

Right now, the following Xiaomi devices work with MIUI 7:

Image source: Xiaomi.

 

What’s new in MIUI 7?

On the backend, Xiaomi has optimised MIUI to run faster and last longer. The company says that MIUI 7 devices can respond up to 30% faster, and deliver 10% better battery efficiency.

According to Xiaomi, MIUI 7 runs faster and lasts longer. Image source: Xiaomi.

On the front-end, we have eight new features that you’ll probably notice, but not all of them are available right now.


MIUI Data Saver

MIUI Data Saver helps you save on mobile data usage by compressing files you request for, before serving them to you. This feature will only be available sometime in September.


System UI

Four new system UIs are available in MIUI 7, unfortunately they’re only available in India right now. In the default theme, icons and menus have been slightly tweaked from MIUI 6 (which first debuted with the Mi Note).

The four new system UIs are on the left and right. Only available in India right now. Image source: Xiaomi.


Showtime

Another feature that’s only making its appearance in India right now, Showtime lets MIUI account owners set an animated video that will play on their friends’ Mi phones when being called.

It's Showtime. Only available in India right now. Image source: Xiaomi.


Auto Do-Not-Disturb

If you wear a Mi Band, MIUI 7 can silence your smartphone when the Mi Band detects that you’re sleeping.
 

Extra-Large Text

For text that you can’t miss, MIUI 7 lets you upsize the system fonts.

Not kidding about the extra-large. How text appears out of the box (far left), and how it appears on the XXL setting. 

Even the Home screen gets slightly upsized.


Daily Lockscreen

Another feature that is only available in India now, Daily Lockscreen automatically switches your lockscreen image for the day, chosen from a collection of high-quality photographs.

Image source: Xiaomi.


Baby Album

MIUI 7 can automatically identify babies and group the particular baby’s photos together, creating ‘baby albums’.

Image source: Xiaomi.


Child Mode

A new Child Mode lets you dictate which apps appear when you turn the mode on, limiting access to the phone’s full features.

In the new Child Mode, I select only the Calculator app. Once I exit this screen, only the Calculator app can be used on the Home screen. The only other control is the Exit button, and you’ll need to key in a pre-selected password to exit back to the phone’s full functions.

 

Should you install MIUI 7?

Here’s three things to consider if you want to try MIUI 7.

1. MIUI 7 is still in beta

MIUI 7 is still in beta, which means that it’s less stable than MIUI 6 and carries a certain amount of risk to use.

It also means that MIUI 7 is more difficult to install, instead of using MIUI’s Updater app to install, you’ll need to download and transfer the ROM manually, then run the installer by rebooting the phone (we’ll go into the exact steps later).

2. There aren’t that many new features to try right now

While the backend optimisation for MIUI 7 is interesting, there aren’t a lot of features to try right now, especially if you don’t live in India.

3. Xiaomi recommends that you do a full wipe

Xiaomi recommends that you do a full wipe (deleting everything on your device) while installing a new ROM to avoid potential issues. Things to consider about wiping your device:

  • This will delete everything off your phone
  • It’s an optional step, but you take your chances
  • You can restore from your backups, but depending on what you chose to backup, you may not get everything back exactly the way it was
  • Doing so will take you more time to restore your apps and data afterwards

Note: It sounds weird to have to say this, but we’ve gotten these calls before, so … HardwareZone is a tech media site, we’re not Xiaomi. So if something goes wrong with your phone, you’ll have to call Xiaomi, not HardwareZone for tech support. As with all beta software, there are always risks involved, so proceed with caution and at your own risk.

If you like to live life on the edge, then I guess you're ready to try out the MIUI 7 interface, so read on!

 

Step zero: Backup, backup, backup!

So you still want to try MIUI 7? The number one thing to do first , assuming you’re not installing MIUI 7 on a completely fresh phone, is to backup, backup, and backup your data. Whether or not you choose to wipe your device when installing MIUI 7, we still recommend you backup your device.

Without going into third-party apps, there are three built-in ways to backup on a Xiaomi phone running MIUI 6.

1. Backup locally

The first option is to backup your files locally, on the smartphone itself.

  1. Launch the Settings app
  2. Go to ‘Additional settings’
  3. Go to ‘Backup & reset’
  4. Go to ‘Local backups’
  5. Choose ‘Back up’
  6. Choose what you want to backup - usually it’s everything
  7. Choose ‘Back up’

Now, this isn’t an ideal way to backup, as you’re storing your backup on the hardware that you’re going to fiddle with.

Some Xiaomi smartphones can backup to external memory cards, that’s a better option. If you do that, remember to take the card out when you install MIUI 7. The chance of something going wrong with the card inside is minimal, but the chance of something going wrong with the card outside is zero.

2. Backup to Google’s servers

You can also backup to Google’s servers quite easily, except for one major exception which we’ll cover below. For now, we recommend that even if you backup locally on your smartphone or memory card, you also do a secondary backup to the cloud, just in case (we’re kiasi that way).

  1. Launch the Settings app
  2. Under ‘Accounts,’ go to ‘Add’
  3. Choose ‘Google’
  4. Sign in to your Google account
  5. Check the box that says to ‘Back up your device’s apps ...’

  1. To check your backup, go back to the Settings app
  2. Under ‘Accounts,’ go to ‘Sync’
  3. Go to ‘Google’
  4. Check what’s being synced

The one major thing that this method doesn’t backup is your photos. You’ll need to install a third-party app to backup your photos to the cloud.

We’ve done a quick run-down of smartphone photo backup apps, in a nutshell we recommend you download the Flickr app, sign up for a free 1TB, and let it backup your photos over Wi-Fi. You might get a prompt after signing in to Google asking you if you want to use Google Photos as a backup service. It’s easy to use, but the catch is that uploads are unlimited only if you let Google compress your photos on their servers. For more details, check out our quick look on smartphone photo backup apps.

3. Backup to Xiaomi’s servers

You can also backup to Xiaomi’s servers by signing up for a Xiaomi account. To do that, simply:

  1. Launch the Mi Account app founder inside the Tools folder
  2. Create a Mi account or sign in to your existing one
  3. Choose to use ‘Mi Cloud’ to sync your device
  4. Choose what you want to backup - usually it’s everything

 

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