MIUI has been, up to this point, pretty polarizing. Xiaomi's Android "skin" has its fans (and staunch fanboys), and it has its critics (and haters). I have never found myself enjoying the very custom take on Android, mainly due to a few annoyances that have persisted through versions. In my Mi 6 review, I said that it was time for the software to get a refresh, and it looks like Xiaomi has made an attempt to do just that. Cue MIUI 9. 

There are a few notable changes that Xiaomi announced alongside the Mi 5X and Mi AI Speaker, but before I continue, I should note that all of these changes are Chinese exclusives for the time being. The global ROM may not have all of them when it launches sometime in the near future.

The biggest change, I think, is that Xiaomi is putting a strong focus on speeding up MIUI. In order to do that, the company is honing in on app launch speed and overall system resource allocation. I like this change, because the Mi 6, even with its impressive list of specs, felt really slow sometimes. MIUI 9 will supposedly adapt better to the user's needs by prioritizing apps in use for system resources.

And because it's the new software fad, Xiaomi has also elected to include a smart assistant into MIUI 9 (similar to what Meizu has done with Flyme OS 6). Initially, this helper will lend you a hand in searching your phone for stuff like photos, notes, and schedules. Whether this will be helpful or obstructive remains to be seen. In a similar vein, Xiaomi has also come up with its own image search, similar to what you'll find in Google Photos. The OS will apparently be able to differentiate between images based on keywords and context. Nifty.

When talking "optimization," especially in regards to Chinese OEMs, my mind often jumps to aggressive resource management; it typically leads to a poor user experience. So color me concerned based on the information in the graphic below:

"Automatic cleaning" and "cache management" cause disturbances in the Force from where I'm sitting. I could be making a big deal about nothing, which happens from time to time, but I digress. I am curious as to what the new file system will be in MIUI 9 (both my Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 on MIUI 8 are ext4).

So that's some of the new stuff coming to MIUI 9. As far as aesthetic changes, I'm hoping it gets a face lift. One of my other gripes was that v8 was missing core Android features, especially from Nougat. From all appearances, split-screen for apps is coming. So that's good.

If you're in China, or can use a ROM in Chinese, you can sign up to test the beta for MIUI 9. You can also find the full list of devices that will be updated in the source links below.