The homescreen

For the past two years, there has been a long and painful war fought between parties with similar ambitions but opposing opinions; a war between iPhone and Android users. At the centre of this great debate is the question, "Which system has the best user experience?"

iPhone offers a clean and simple experience; there are no app drawers, no widgets and no pull-down notifications. These are, of course, the very things that Android users love so much about Google's platform. The notification curtain is a handy way to centralise system and personal messages and live, web-enabled widgets are key to the Android UI.

Recently we found a new firmware mod for Android which we think is almost spot-on and definitely offers food for thought for both Apple and Google. MIUI is firmware that originated in China. Luckily for us, some clever coders got their hands on the firmware and have translated it, the most recent results of which are featured in this gallery.

To install this firmware you first have to root your Android phone. If you have an HTC Desire and feel confident that you can get root access you can follow our guide here — similar guides for other phone models can be found online. However, we should point out that rooting your phone will void your manufacturer's warranty and could have undesirable results, so proceed with caution.

Both Androiders and iPhoneys should find familiar elements in this set up. The dock (which is customisable) is very Apple-like, but there is still Android's notification panel and a very HTC Sense-like clock and weather widget called Fancy Widget (which is available for all Android phones on the Android Market).

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Death to the App Drawer

One of the major differences between MIUI and the stock Android experience is the total absence of the app drawer. When you install a new app its placed on the next available spot on your homescreen pages. You can then move the app whereever you want it, toss it in a folder or delete it by dragging it to the bin at the top of the screen in editing mode.

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Wiggling widgets

Alongside the iPhone-like app layout, you can also install and use web-enabled widgets. This picture shows the editing mode, with the bin at the top and a thumbnail of the homescreens below.

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Pinch-to-view

From the homescreen you can use a pinch gesture to view all of your active homescreens. You can add new ones and delete current screens and reorder them so that your favourite apps come first. You can also press the little "home" button to select which screen is your default home (ie: which screen you jump to when you press the home button).

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Themata

The latest MIUI update delivers something we hope all new phones have next year: the ability to download and apply complete themes. These themes update the look and feel across the system, including custom icons for all the major Android apps.

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Update your style

The customisation of this firmware extends to the lockscreen wallpaper as well as the main panoramic wallpaper — another page taken out of the iPhone playbook.

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Advanced lockscreen

Missed calls and unread text messages leave notifications on the lockscreen. If you press and hold either of the icons you will see the latest message, and if you drag those icons up rather than the lock icon, you will go directly to that application.

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