After weeks of leaks and rumors, Xiaomi finally unveiled MIUI 12 with major UI changes and new features for a range of its devices. We didn’t lose any moment and installed the first beta on our Redmi K20, and so far, MIUI 12 looks phenomenal. It features the new gesture navigation system, has ample privacy protection, and brings beautiful animations for almost everything. Not to mention, MIUI 12 is packed to the brim with a truckload of features and utilities. So in this article, we take a look at every aspect of MIUI 12, be it the user interface, privacy, or hidden features. With that in mind, let’s jump to the list and explore the 21 best MIUI 12 features.
Best MIUI 12 Features in 2020
1. User Interface
Xiaomi has been consistently redesigning its user interface for the past few years in order to make MIUI more minimal and intuitive to use. Last year, MIUI 11 departed from its clunky design language and brought something fresh to the table: a clean and coherent UI. This year, with MIUI 12, Xiaomi builds on its earlier foundation, and it seems, the company has finally struck a fine balance between feature count and minimal design language. Right from the home screen to settings and system apps, everything is in complete sync with each other. I would say, for the first time, MIUI does not feel out of the place. I dug deep around the UI but didn’t find any obsolete interface from AOSP which basically proves that Xiaomi has been persistent in overhauling and maintaining the design language across the board on MIUI 12.
The menus and pages are highlighted with large headers — eerily similar to Windows Mobile OS. The buttons and toggles are again larger, making it easier for users to manage their smartphone. What I like about MIUI 12 is that it does not feel cartoonish in any manner. In fact, MIUI 12 feels quite matured because of its consistency in every design element– small or big. What’s more, the whole UI has a visual approach rather than textual. There are infographics, buttons, menus, cards — and they all flow from a visual design language. So to sum up, MIUI 12 is very well put together and I am certain you are going to love every bit of it.
The animations on MIUI 12 are so good that it deserves a separate section. Yes, it’s clearly inspired by iOS, but I would say, a job well done at successfully copying each UI transitions with finesse. The moment you unlock the phone, the fade-in animation on MIUI 12 gives a satisfyingly smooth experience. Further, you will experience bounce effects all across the UI and Zoom effect while opening apps. You get satisfying animation when you uncheck a task in the Notes app, uninstall an app, move between apps, and do anything else. Basically, the animations on MIUI 12 takes the user experience a notch higher, and perhaps better than Pixel’s Stock UI. Simply put, MIUI 12 is brewing wth a range of visually-pleasing animations and that completely changes the standing of MIUI among all the Android ROMs out there.
3. Control Center
In a bid to make MIUI more like iOS, Xiaomi has separated the Quick Settings panel and notification shade into two different parts. You can access the Quick Settings panel — unironically named Control Center — from the top-right side and notification shade from the top-left side. Many users will hate it and rightfully so, but there is nothing to worry about. You can still go back to the old layout by simply disabling the Control Center from the Settings page. Problem solved. But talking about the design aspect of MIUI 12’s control center, I think it looks pretty good and again, a good job done at copying iOS.
Other than that, Xiaomi has also implemented its own version of Group Notification. Based on promotional and low-priority content, MIUI 12 will group notifications to the bottom in order to make your notification shade less crowded. However, if you don’t like this implementation, you can still go back to Android’s default style which is much better.
4. Gesture System
With MIUI 12, Xiaomi has finally done away with its native gesture implementation and incorporated Android 10’s gesture navigation system. You can go back from both the sides, but can’t switch apps by holding the back gesture. Further, you can switch between apps by swiping left and right at the bottom of the screen. Having said that, what I love MIUI is that it adds its own refinements. While the gesture system is almost stock, Xiaomi has added a way to open the app-specific menu from the top part of the screen. It basically means that from the top part, you can swipe right to open a hamburger menu and it won’t trigger the back gesture. How awesome is that? One more reason to love MIUI 12.
5. Disable Ads in One-tap
6. Floating Window
Floating window is one of the major features of MIUI 12 and I really like that Xiaomi has taken Freeform Window from Android 10 and made something usable for general users. You can basically create a mini window of an app (it works on most of the apps) and continue work on other apps seamlessly. At the same time, you can interact with the floating window without any feature restrictions, move it around the screen and make the window larger according to your need. That sounds awesome, right? Earlier, this feature was only limited to the Calculator app, but now you can use it on WhatsApp, Telegram, and other popular apps as well. You can use Floating Window from the Recents menu and notification shade.
7. Super Wallpapers
After Google introduced live wallpapers on Pixel devices, it has become a rage among smartphone users. Following the trend, Xiaomi has gone one step ahead and brought something called Super Wallpapers with MIUI 12. It’s pretty similar to live wallpapers but comes with more dramatic animation which I am sure you are going to love. So far, there are only two Super Wallpapers that are based on Earth and Mars. Also, not all Xiaomi phones are going to get Super Wallpapers as it requires a powerful GPU. Nevertheless, you can sideload the APK and get it running on other Xiaomi devices too.
8. Privacy Protection
At the backdrop of rising suspicion against Chinese OEMs for data malpractice, Xiaomi is taking sufficient steps to safeguard consumer data on its smartphones. With MIUI 12, Xiaomi has introduced a separate and comprehensive dashboard called Privacy Protection under the Settings page. With App Behavior, you can find permission stats of all the apps and monitor their usage. MIUI 12 classifies a few permissions like location, storage, camera, microphone as sensitive permissions and displays how individual apps are using those permissions.
Apart from that, you can also manage sensitive permissions and revoke permissions that are not in line with expected behavior. Further, MIUI 12 alerts you if an app tries to access your location, record audio, or take photos in the background. So to sum up, privacy protection on MIUI 12 has gone through a much-needed improvement and it’s certainly among the best features.
9. New Permission System
Xiaomi seems to be making it tougher for apps to gain all-time permissions on MIUI 12. Now whenever an app tries to access permission, you will be displayed an elaborate permission prompt with all the details as to what the app can do with that permission. For example, it doesn’t just show ‘Storage’ permission, but also shows, with this permission, the app can modify and delete your files. This goes a long way in making consumers aware of what you are allowing to third-party apps. Apart from that, every permission prompt has the least-invasive privacy option as the default pick. For instance, ‘Allow only while using the app’ is focused instead of ‘Always allow’ in permission prompts. Again, this small design change brings a shift in user behavior while granting permission. For me, the new permission system is one of the best features of MIUI 12.
10. Virtual ID
After Privacy Protection and the new Permission System, Virtual ID is the third privacy-related feature on MIUI 12. Every app and website on the internet uses something called an online identifier to offer personalized ads to users. However, there are cases when companies try to build profiles of individuals from such data which can lead to targeted attacks, tracking, and profiling. So to prevent that, Xiaomi has brought Virtual ID with MIUI 12. Instead of your real identifier, MIUI will provide a virtual identifier (OAID) to third-party apps. It will prevent apps from tracking your behavior and preferences. As a result, your privacy will always be protected. You can enable Virtual ID from Settings -> Privacy Protection -> Manage -> Special Permissions -> Manage Virtual ID.
11. Dark Mode 2.0
Xiaomi had already made great progress with Dark Mode on MIUI 11 and now with MIUI 12, you get a brand new Dark Mode 2.0. Apart from the usual system-wide dark mode, now the wallpaper will also be adjusted to a more contrasty, dark color. In case, you are unaware, it works with any wallpaper and not just system wallpapers. Moreover, when you reduce the brightness in dark mode, the colors and lower contrast are adjusted automatically so that you don’t experience ghosting or any kind of grey blemish on the screen. Further, now you can choose dark mode for individual apps so that is pretty good.
12. Snap Mode and Camera Enhancements
Snap Mode is a brand new feature of MIUI 12 and it’s incorporated under the Camera settings. With Snap Mode turned on, you can take photos even when the screen is off. Basically, with this feature, you no longer need to download a third-party spy camera from the Play Store. To enable it, just open the Camera Settings and turn on Snap Mode. After that, open the Camera app and turn off the screen. Now, press and hold the volume down button and a photo will be clicked immediately. Keep in mind, it also triggers the camera sound so disable it before you click a photo secretly.
Furthermore, the Camera app has gone through some UI improvements. Taking the visual design language forward, you get controls and buttons which are easy to understand and use. You can also change the camera color accent, sound, and feature layout from Camera Settings -> Customize. Apart from that, you get the new subtitle mode which dictates subtitles in real-time while shooting video. Also, similar to iPhones, you can now tap and hold the shutter button to instantly shoot videos instead of taking burst photos.
13. Focus Mode
Focus Mode has finally debuted on MIUI 12 after making noise of its arrival on MIUI 11. In case you are unfamiliar, Focus Mode is very similar to OxygenOS’ Zen Mode. It allows you to break free of your smartphone for 30, 60, and 90 minutes. In addition, you can also set your own custom time. Within this period, you will be locked out of your phone except for making and receiving calls. Focus Mode is meant for users who use phones for a seemingly long period of time without any break. So if you want to go on a digital detox with a Xiaomi device, MIUI 12 has you covered. You can find Focus Mode under Screen Time (Digital Wellbeing) on the Settings page.
14. Video Toolbox
Video Toolbox is a new feature on MIUI 12 which is very similar to Task Toolbox, but only for video-related apps. It stays on the left side of the screen and allows you to quickly access lots of video-centric controls by a simple right swipe. For example, if you are watching a video, you can change the mood of the screen with multiple effects from the Toolbox. Similarly, you can take a screenshot, record video, make a note in a floating window, play video sound with the screen off and also search in a web browser– all the while watching a video. You can enable Video Toolbox for other video apps as well like Netflix and Prime Video from Settings -> Special Features -> Video Toolbox.
15. New Health App
On MIUI 12, Xiaomi has brought a new Health app that puts all your health information, from different sources into one app. You can also integrate your health data from Mi Band, Google Fit, and other services and devices. One particularly interesting feature of the Health app is Sleep analysis which works without any sensor. The Health app uses snore and talk detection during bedtime to analyze your sleep cycle. It may not be the best way to calculate your sleep cycle, but you can definitely give it a try.
16. Backup and Restore Using Computer
The Backup and Restore tool on MIUI 12 has got a much-needed feature. Now, you can backup and restore your data to computers and the process is rather seamless. You just need to backup all your data using the Backup and Restore tool on your smartphone and then copy the folder to your computer. After the backup process, you can find the backup folder inside MIUI -> Backup -> AllBackup. By the way, the backup files are stored in BAK format. And if you want to restore a backup from the computer, just move the backup folder to your smartphone. After that, open the Backup and Restore tool and switch to “Restore from Computer”. Here, it will automatically detect the backup folder and then you can proceed with the restore process. However, keep in mind, it does not back up the DCIM folder which stores all your photos, videos and screenshots. In that case, you need to back up DCIM folder manually.
17. Lock Screen Clock
MIUI 12 has added a new lock screen clock which goes really well with the Super Wallpapers. It’s more textual in style and I love the placement on the lock screen. So if you want to use the new lock screen clock, head over to Settings -> Lock Screen -> Lock Screen clock format.
18. Sunlight Mode
Sunlight mode is for those users who don’t trust automatic brightness but want a solution for increased brightness while being outdoors. For instance, even when automatic brightness is off, the display brightness will be increased when the smartphone will sense a strong ambient light. Basically, with Sunlight mode turned on, you can keep automatic brightness disabled and yet enjoy a good amount of brightness in sunlight automatically.
19. Lite Mode
Lite Mode was part of earlier MIUI builds, but in the last two iterations, it was removed. Finally, Lite Mode has made a comeback with MIUI 12. With Lite Mode, you can increase the display size, icon, and the overall UI. The control center is also simplified and system apps offer basic options under Lite Mode. So if you want to offer a Xiaomi device to elderly people, consider enabling Lite Mode on MIUI 12. It will make smartphone usability and navigation much easier for older people. You can find Lite mode under Settings -> Special Features.
20. Game Driver and Other Developer Options
Developer Options on MIUI 12 has got a few new options, but among them, Game Driver seems to be interesting. It offers three options to choose from: Default, Game Driver, and Prerelease Driver. While there is not much information out there on its exact purpose, so far, it looks like a work-in-progress. It might have to do with Snapdragon’s new feature which allows GPU driver update through OTA, but who knows. Once we ascertain the fact, we will let you know. Apart from that, MIUI 12 has surprisingly kept some of the important Android 10 features. You can change system-wide accent color and icon shape from Developer Options and in my brief testing, it worked pretty well.
21. Other MIUI 12 Features
- Network Diagnostics
MIUI 12 ships with a Network Diagnostics tool where you can check your network speed, find out network issues, and monitor which app is eating your bandwidth in real-time. You can find Network Diagnostics under the WiFi page.
- Download Always-on Display Theme
Apart from the ability to add graphics and create custom Always-on Display themes, now you can download always-on display themes from the official Themes app. You can further customize them based on your artwork, font, and text.
- Private DNS
Unlike earlier versions of MIUI, Private DNS is now no longer hidden inside the system and you don’t need to use Activity Launcher either to access the particular settings page. Just go to Settings and open Connection and Sharing. Here, you will find Private DNS in all its glory. You can now set DNS of your choice easily.
- New Battery Indicators
MIUI 12 has brought some fresh battery indicators and you can get them from Settings -> Notifications and Status Bar -> Status Bar -> Battery Indicator.
Best MIUI 12 Features Sorted For You
So those are the 21 best features of MIUI 12 that you should know and take advantage of. It was just the first beta release so, in the coming days, there might be new feature additions so stay tuned with us as we will bring all the new features for you. As for the overall impression, I can certainly tell you that MIUI 12 is a major step-up from last year’s MIUI 11, both in terms of features and UI/UX. Anyway, that is all from us. If you have some questions for us then do let us know in the comment section below.