Huawei's EMUI Android skin used to be a real mess, but it's gotten much better over the last few years. EMUI 9 is the latest version, which Huawei pre-announced a few months ago. Now, we have all the details, and it's shipping on the Mate 20. EMUI 9.0 is based on Android 9 Pie, so some of the new features won't be a surprise. Others are pure Huawei.

Huawei has several suspiciously precise measurements of average performance increases. It claims EMUI 9.0 is 25.8% more responsive, and applications start up 102ms faster. System "fluency" has improved by 12.9%, whatever that means. When playing games, EMUI 9.0 utilizes a feature called GPU Turbo 2.0 that reduces touch latency by 36% and decreases device temperature by up to 3.6 degrees Celsius.

AI has been a focus of EMUI ever since Huawei introduced the AI core in its Kirin chips. EMUI 9.0 leverages AI for several new features, most of which are connected to the company's HiVision platform. You can point the camera at landmarks, paintings, or food, and the phone will (allegedly) identify them. For food, it can offer estimated calorie counts. If you point HiVision at a foreign language, it can translate for you instantly. You can also point Huawei's AI at images of products you see online (HiTouch), and the phone will try to figure out what it is so you can buy it.

EMUI 9.0 has a revamped design that emphasizes "natural aesthetics." I'm not sure what that means in practice, but the theme is lighter, and more mature than older versions of EMUI. It seems a bit closer to Google's Pie interface. The weird floating nav button has also been replaced by new gesture navigation. You swipe up for home, swipe up and hold for multitasking, and swipe in from the sides for back. You may also notice Huawei's Digital Balance feature, which looks like a reskin of Pie's Digital Wellbeing feature.

The Mate 20 comes with EMUI 9.0, and some other phones will get an update. Huawei plans to roll the new software out to the P20, P20 Pro, Mate 10, and Mate 10 Pro.