Xiaomi has previously defended itself against accusations they were trying to copy Apple. Their new UI will only serve to re-ignite that chatter, though. A striking resemblance to iOS 7, in both apps and icons, tells us Xiaomi is indeed trying to copy Apple.
MIUI 6 has flat icons, which is nothing new — many refreshed OSs have that (Samsung’s TouchWiz comes to mind). The difference here is that those icons are still small squares with rounded corners, something Xiaomi has been doing. Most other OEMs have been careful to dance around that very Apple design cue, even if it’s not protected as Intellectual Property.
A few Xiaomi apps, like Calendar, also bear a not-so-subtle resemblance to Apple’s homemade apps. Then you have Xiaomi’s use of the “One More Thing” slide during their latest conference, and a founder wearing jeans and a black shirt. If that doesn’t mimic Apple, we’re not sure what does.
Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Global VP, has refuted the copycat claims by saying things like “If you have two similarly skilled designers, it makes sense that they would reach the same conclusion”. That’s fair, except when one reaches it months or years later than another.
Their recent Mi Pad is a pretty straightforward iPad mini knockoff, too. the Mi Phone? You guessed it — an iPhone stand-in.
China has very different laws about protecting design or IP, so Xiaomi probably isn’t kicking up much dust in Cupertino just yet. As they expand globally, that may change.
We’re not arguing Xiaomi is wrong, either. It would just be nice if they stopped with the “we’re not copying Apple” rhetoric. In being equitable about what the refreshed OS actually is, we will note MUIU 6 is promising a big security upgrade, baking features right into the OS itself. Xiaomi says those features will mean users can stop loading extra apps, and leave the heavy lifting to them.
Just like Apple.