MIUI 9: Top nine features you need to know

After months of beta testing, the global version of MIUI 9 is now available. The Chinese manufacturer highlighted the new features at an event in India earlier this month, stating that the stable build will be rolling out initially to the Redmi Note 4, the bezel-less Mi Mix 2, and the Mi Max 2. In total, the MIUI 9 update will be rolling out to 32 Xiaomi phones, going as far back as 2012's Mi 2.

MIUI 9 comes with a slew of new features, and while a few — like the intelligent photo search — are limited to the Chinese build on the ROM, there's a lot to like in the global version. One of the key areas for Xiaomi was performance, with MIUI 9 coming close to pure Android in terms of app launches. Here's a look at all the new features in MIUI 9.

A retooled notification pane

MIUI 9 notification pane

One of the biggest changes in MIUI 9 is the notification panel, which now supports bundled notifications and quick replies. Although MIUI 9 has over 280 million users around the world, a majority of them are located in China, where the use cases are different. For instance, WeChat doesn't take advantage of Nougat-style quick replies or bundled notifications.

But with Xiaomi gaining market share outside of China, the company is rolling out the additions to the global version of MIUI 9. The notification panel itself doesn't look any different from the Chinese build, but the ability to reply to messages directly from the notification shade is a welcome addition.

All-new image editor

MIUI 9 image editor with retouch

Xiaomi has steadily been adding new features to its Gallery app, and MIUI 9 introduces a new photo editor with intelligent background erase. The feature lets you easily remove background elements from an image, and more often than not, it does a great job.

You'll be able to access the editor through the Edit button in the Gallery. To remove background elements from a shot, all you have to do is select the area with your finger, and hit the Erase button. The update will be rolling out in the stable version of MIUI 9.

The image editor features the latest version of Beautify, which automatically adds effects to your photos.

Optimizations with 2x faster app load times

In addition to user-facing changes, Xiaomi implemented several under-the-hood fixes to improve apps load on MIUI 9, which includes better background memory management, dynamic resource allocation, and more. The result is that MIUI 9 feels considerably faster than previous versions, and in latency tests Xiaomi found that the user interface is close to pure Android when it comes to loading apps.

Xiaomi is also rolling out the KRACK WPA2 fix to all of its devices with the stable version of MIUI 9.

New Mi Video app

Mi Video in MIUI 9

Xiaomi is introducing a new Mi Video app with MIUI 9. The app automatically groups videos from the same TV show in a single folder, lets you load multilingual subtitles, and has extensive support for file formats: AVI, MP4, MOV, MKV, MPG, FLV, RM, TS, ASF, and 3GP.

You also get the option to hide videos in a private folder, take screenshots, customize the text size of subtitles, and use gestures to seek forward/backward within a video.

Mi Drop gets even better

Mi Drop is Xiaomi's file transfer utility, and with MIUI 9, the app is moving out of the Utilities folder to its own spot in the home screen. The app also has a new logo, and is available for all Android devices, Xiaomi and otherwise.

With Mi Drop, you'll be able to transfer files of any type, and there's also the option to resume interrupted transfers. The interface has been simplified as well — now showing buttons for Send or Receive — allowing you to transfer files with ease.

Split screen

Xiaomi added a split screen feature to its Mi Max 2 earlier this year, and the feature is now standard in MIUI 9. You'll be able to launch split screen mode by selecting a button in the multitasking pane, and you can easily resize windows.

App shortcuts

App shortcuts in MIUI 9

With MIUI 9, Xiaomi is rolling out app shortcuts via a Google Now-style pane that takes up the leftmost home screen. You get shortcuts for frequently used apps, along with the notes app, score updates for cricket, calendar events, and more.

You'll be able to customize what shows up in the feed, and there's also an option to hail a cab on Ola. You will be able to quickly launch Paytm from here as well.

Exclusive themes and sticker packs

MIUI 9 sticker packs

Themes are a big part of MIUI, and with MIUI 9 Xiaomi is rolling out a new Limitless theme. The theme will be available as default when you're setting up a phone that runs MIUI 9 out of the box, and will be available from the themes store as well. There's also an India-exclusive theme.

MIUI 9 is also picking up sticker packs. You get 12 sticker sets in the Gallery app, with four packs limited to the Indian market. Xiaomi has also added icon animations to 21 apps. Most of the stock apps are getting animations, and a few popular third-party apps like Facebook, Instagram, and UC Browser will get animated icons.

Calendar with cards for holidays

MIUI 9 calendar

The all-new Calendar in MIUI 9 comes with cards that let you view upcoming festivals and holidays. You can subscribe to football schedules, get news updates, dates for upcoming cricket matches, revisit news from the past with "On this day", and more.

Your turn

What do you like the most in MIUI 9? Let us know in the comments below.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.