Those of you who keep up with the most popular custom ROMs have no doubt heard of MIUI. It’s an extremely popular ROM from a group of Chinese Android enthusiasts known for its stunning good looks and iOS-inspired design. Personally speaking, we at TechNorms are huge fans of MIUI. As far as ROMs go, it’s stable, supported on a ton of devices, and did we mention that it looks good? Throw in an extensive selection of free ROM-wide themes and it’s damn near perfect. MIUI can’t hold a candle to power user ROMs like CyanogenMod and AOKP, but as far for the general enthusiast it’s pretty darn good.
MiHome is a new app that takes the stock MIUI launcher and opens it up to the general Android population. Instead of going through all the trouble of rooting, installing a custom recovery, and flashing a new ROM, now you can get the good looks of MIUI through a quick 30-second download. Want to give it a try? Here’s what we thought of the app.
As a general rule, Android tends to be less aesthetically appealing than iOS and even Windows Phone, to an extent. Stock Android has come a long way recently (especially with Jelly Bean), but MIUI has been there for quite a while.
MiHome is a direct port of the MIUI launcher, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. The whole thing is adorned with bright colors, smooth white gradients, beautiful orange highlights, and artful transparencies. This is hands-down the best-looking launcher we’ve ever used.
Even better, the launcher comes with access to the MIUI theme store. This is an extensive repository of downloadable skins that you can use to change the phone’s looks to Ice Cream Sandwich, iPhone, or hundreds of other possibilities.
If you take a gander at the customization menu, MiHome lets you set different themes for the icons, lock screen, and wallpaper. Some themes even come with their own custom lock screen. There are two downsides to the theme store, however.
One is that the themes only apply to the launcher. Flashing the full MIUI ROM means that themes apply across the entire OS. The other issue is that quite a few of the themes are in Chinese, a language in which we are not fluent (though it would be really cool to learn).
As far as launchers go, MiHome comes with the same assortment of widgets that MIUI does. There’s a good-looking digital clock, an analog clock, and a panel of quick toggles. The toggle bar is the most useful, with stuff like wifi, brightness, sound, and data.
The toggle bar is unfortunately not customizable (more on that later). Tapping the ellipsis brings up a menu with more toggles. This is clearly inspired by MIUI’s toggle page in the notification bar, a feature which really should be adopted by more ROMs.
A Little Too Much Like iOS
Since MiHome is a child of MIUI, it’s only fitting that the launcher falls prey to the same problems that plague its parent. Android power users probably will not appreciate MiHome’s design philosophy, which is to provide a beautiful product without much room for customization. We get that the launcher (and ROM) are inspired by iOS, but that’s a little too Apple for our tastes.
You can see this philosophy in what’s missing. The thing that will annoy the most people is the lack of an app drawer. Every app is on the screen, all the time. Yes, that means resorting to the old iOS tricks of hiding all the crappy apps in a folder labeled “Useless.”
Also missing is the level of deep customization we’ve come to expect from other launchers like ADW EX. There’s no way to resize widgets. No landscape mode. No way to change app icons or rename apps. The limits on changing icons is a real shame, as only a select few stock apps get their own MIUI icon. All the others get a weird colored box.
MiHome is, in the end, a good launcher that we would recommend with caveats. It does not have a deep level of customization, but it really looks nice. Maybe this launcher would be a good idea if you’re setting up a phone for someone else who isn’t a power user.
The launcher was always the weakest part of MIUI, to be honest. We’ve flashed MIUI before, and each time we end up changing the launcher to something with a little more in the way of options.
Download and try the launcher. Deciding whether or not MiHome’s gorgeous design and phenomenal looks are worth the restrictions is something you have to test for yourself.
Download MiHome Android Launcher
Download MiHome from Play Store.