Xiaomi MIUI 12 software: What’s new and when’s it available?

Xiaomi is bringing its software, MIUI, into its next phase of life. MIUI 12, which runs on Google's Android 10 operating system, integrates some of Google's baked-in features - such as dark mode and more - while Xiaomi adds a number of its own features, animations and innovations.

Here's the highlights of what to expect from MIUI 12, what it means for your Xiaomi phone, and when you can get it. The full presentation, which took place on 19 May 2020, is also available to re-watch via YouTube (embedded above) if you want all the granular details.

New Features

Dark Mode
App Drawer
Floating Windows
Ultra Battery Saver

Android 10 integrated a system-wide dark mode, which Xiaomi was offering in MIUI 11. But now in MIUI 12 you can choose whether you prefer bright or darker shades for third-party apps too.

App Drawer also comes to MIUI 12, including sub-categories - such as Entertainment, Communication, Photography - accessible via left/right swipes when the drawer is open.

Xiaomi has also introduced floating windows. If you're, say, using Instagram and get a WhatsApp message, it's possible to drag the notification into a small window, one over the top of the other. It brings a quicker way to multi-tasking without the necessity to switch between full-screen apps - or you can swipe down to take the floating window into full-screen mode.

A new Ultra Battery Saver has also been introduced. This restricts most power-consuming features to extend standby time, effectively making the device a "dumbphone" only able to network connect for calls and SMS. It's a feature many others have offered for some time.

Enhanced Privacy Protections

Casting with privacy
Manage sensitive actions
Background permissions cause notifications

MIUI 12 also brings casting with privacy. So if you're sharing a screen via MiraCast, your private notifications won't show on the big screen - only on your phone. You can also cast with the phone screen off, if you wish.

Permission Notifications is also introduced in MIUI 12. If the microphone, camera, or GPS is being used by an app in the background, a corresponding icon will display in the status bar. The cruder "approve / deny" permissions pop-up has also been tiered to include "At all times / When using the app / Notify / Deny" to add greater control per app.

"Private things should always be only yours and yours alone," said Xiaomi's head of marketing and operations for Global MIUI, Louisa Jia, when showing off the features. Additional controls, not mentioned on stage at the conference, include the ability to remove sensitive information, such as GPS and metadata from your photos.

New System Animations

New physics engine
Real-time Gaussian blur
G2 continuity curve for curved edge screen fit

The thing that gives MIUI its distinct look is down to the difference in design, presentation and animations compared to stock Google Android. And MIUI 12 brings additional unique properties.

System animations benefit from a physics engine, which gives distinct feedback depending on where on screen and how you're interacting with the icons.

The same engine brings real-time gaussian blur, meaning floating windows add a dynamism compared to the linear transparency in Google's Android.

Finally there's what Xiaomi calls a G2 continuity curve, enabling the software to fill apps right through to the edges of different phone curves - something more important in different handsets these days.

When is MIUI 12 coming to my phone?

Date: End of June 2020
Beta testing: From 25 May 2020
Handsets: Mi 9, Mi 9T, Mi 9T Pro, Redmi K20, Redmi K20 Pro
Future handsets (see full list below)

MIUI 12 will roll out for beta testing from 25 May 2020. The final software will be available from the end of June 2020, but only for five handsets at first (the Mi 9, Mi 9T, Mi 9T Pro, Redmi K20, Redmi K20 Pro).

After the initial rollout a whole host of other Xiaomi handsets will be compatible at a later date. Here's the full list:

Mi 10 Pro, Mi 10, Mi 10 Lite
Mi Note 10
Mi 9 SE
Mi 8, Mi 8 Pro, Mi 8 Lite
Mi Mix 3, Mi Mix 2S, Mi Mix 2
Mi Note 3
Mi Max 3
Redmi Note 9, Redmi Note 8 Pro, Redmi Note 7, Redmi Note 7S, Redmi Note 7 Pro, Redmi Y2, Redmi S2
Pocophone F1, Poco F1, Poco F2 Pro, Poco X2