My thoughts on Xiaomi’s MIUI 6

I’ve been using Xiaomi’s MIUI 6 for quite sometime already, being one of the first 1000 in the world to beta test it. In fact, I’m still running the Beta version. LOL! I’m too lazy to install the Developer ROM which is now an official release for Mi 3 and Mi 4. Anyway, here are some thoughts I have on the latest ROM from Xiaomi. It is slick and smooth, plus some nice stuff which you will see in my video. Enjoy!

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Xiaomi MIUI 6 Camera App Review (Beta version)

MIUI 6 Camera App

The MIUI 6 ROM arrived yesterday (8.16) to much fanfare. Amidst all the excitment, I received my Beta package and quickly flashed it on my Mi 3. One of the first things I test drove was the Camera App.

Here’s my unbiased review of the MIUI 6 default Camera App on the Mi 3.

As usual, the Camera App is activated by an icon on the homescreen or if you can activated it by a long press of the back button at the Lockscreen. Please be aware that if you use the camera from the Lockscreen, the Gallery is locked and so are the settings.

Camera App
When you enter the Camera App, this is what you see.

There’s not much difference from the MIUI 5 Camera App, except that it now follows the design philosophy of a lighter and cleaner look of MIUI 6.

Diving into the app, reveals more. Here’s a side by side look of the 2 Camera Apps. MIUI 5 on the left and MIUI 6 on the right. If you want to know more details of the MIUI 5 Camera App, please read this thread. OK, let’s look at the MIUI 6 app.

1. Flash setting
2. Camera settings
3. Toggle front / back camera. You may also do a downward swipe to toggle the front / back cameras.
4. Camera roll
5. Shutter release, hold for burst shooting mode.
6. Video camera
7. Focus point. Tap anywhere on the screen to focus on whatever your subject is. MIUI 6 now adds a shutter release here. Once focus is achieved (green circle), tap once more to release the shutter. The exposure is also controlled here. By holding down on the circle and moving clockwise (+exposure) or anti-clockwise (-exposure). A very good and efficient way to control exposure. Well done Xiaomi!

Gesture features
New to the MIUI 6 Camera App are some gesture based features. The gesture is new, but features are not. As mentioned above, swipe down toggles the cameras.

For the front and back cameras, swiping left accesses photo filters. There are 11 filters. Less than Mi 4’s 15. I’m wondering if that is considered a step back for Mi 4 users who will upgrade to MIUI 6 in the near future. Well, Xiaomi will probably fix the problem soon. We are in Beta afterall.  

For the back camera, swiping right brings up some camera settings. The features are self explanatory. However, Panaroma, Focus mode and White balance are missing! This is quite serious as White balance is a critical feature. Again, I believe Xiaomi will fix that fairly quickly. Having said that, this idea of gesture based features is good. Kudos to Xiaomi for coming up with that.

For the front camera, swiping right brings up slightly different camera settings. You lose Audio shutter, HDR and HHT, but you gain a Countdown timer. This is especially useful if you are using a selfie pod and require some time to adjust before the camera takes the photo. On a separate note, while HDR and HHT are useless on a front camera, Audio shutter should be an option here. Hopefully Xiaomi puts in, in the next update.

If you are in Video mode, the right swipe gets you this. Your video clip will be recorded based on the time lapse interval you have set in settings (I’ll talk about it in a while). No audio is recorded in this mode for obvious reasons. If Fast is not selected, a normal video clip is produced. It is 720p. No 1080p or any other option. In case you are wondering, the time lapse clip is also 720p.


Camera and video Settings
So far, I’ve not talked about the little gear icon at the top of the Camera App screen. In camera and video mode, it gives access to some settings. MIUI 6 has also moved Settings into a central location under Settings – System apps, where ALL system apps’ settings can be changed. I kinda like this but I would also appreciate that I can change these settings inside each app when I want to (so far only Camera App lets you have access to settings in-app). Hopefully Xiaomi agrees with me, coz it has been like this with MIUI for Pad for a long time already. Alright, enough talk. Let’s take a look.

Camera settings
Mirror front camera is a new feature. I allows you to choose if you would like a mirro image when taking a selfie. Otherwise, everything is simplified when compared to the MIUI 5 Camera App. Choose 4:3 (3120×4208) for your Camera frame’s setting if you want the highest resolution photo. A selection of 16:9 gives you a photo of lower resolution (2368×4208).

Video settings
There’s something new here. The Movie solid setting is MIUI 6’s built in video stabilisation. It is turned on by default and does make a noticeable difference when you make hand held videos. The Time lapse interval setting I spoke about earlier is also adjustable here.


Conclusion
MIUI 6 has simplified and made photo taking even easier for users especially the point and shoot photographers (read majority of smartphone users). Thumbs up! However it remains to be seen how this Camera App can be taken seriously with key features missing. Most will end up installing 3rd party cameras to take advantage of the class leading cameras in their Mi 3 and 4’s. Of course we have to bear in mind that this is a Beta release. Nothing is confirmed and changes will definitely take place before the stable release.

Screen protector installation without bubbles and perfectly aligned

Have you ever installed a screen protector on your phone? Did you have to do it again and again and again, until you almost tore off all your hair in frustration? For all your trouble, the screen protector is always not aligned properly, there are bubbles everywhere and the more times you take the screen protector off, the worse it gets each time you reinstall.

Today, I will show you how to do it in about 3 minutes and it will be perfectly aligned. Most importantly, you get to keep your hair.  So sit back, relax and watch how I do it. If I can do it, so can you, because I’ve been known to be a rather clumsy fella. 🙂