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[Interview] Get to know MI: Exclusive interview with the MIUI Theme Store's Alex Xiao

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11:22, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
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This week I sat down with MIUI's Alex Xiao to ask him some questions about MIUI's wildly popular Theme store. I brought along some questions from forum users too... we got through a lot of them but didn't have time to cover everything (running an online store platform open to 20 million people is a hustle).

NB: (thank you to  ahulrulez, ob1.ch3n, narm5, hvung1982, miui-uk, javajohn, andronaline, MikaDee and to everyone else who contributed) If we didn't get to your question this week, submit one again next week and I'll do my best to get to it (I try to use questions from as many users as possible!).

Episode three: Alex Xiao

jack_white: What's an average day for you like running the MIUI theme store? What's the best part of the job?

Alex Xiao: The coolest (and most grueling) part of my job is checking every theme before deciding whether or not to add it to the Theme store. I have to apply every theme that comes across my desk on several devices to make sure everything's there and is displaying normally (like the Lockscreen, the Contacts menu, the Clock, the Messaging interface, and the Status bar, etc). And more importantly, that there aren't any buggy pieces that mess with regular use.


j: Ok, here's a question from @narm5, a user on our forum: What qualifies a good theme and how is the price decided?

a: When we price a theme (RMB 3 ~ RMB 10), we mostly think about two things: the overall quality of the artwork and the coverage ratio of the theme. The latter is basically a ratio that looks at what percentage of MIUI's stock theme the original theme covers. A basic theme will cover the bare bones of MIUI: Home screen, lock screen, Explorer, Dialpad, Messaging, Task manager, Clock, app icons. The next step up (i.e. the more complete themes) will also cover Update, Download manager, Virus scan, and Backup. If you design for all the pieces in your theme we defined it as "comprehensive".

j: How do you determine the "quality of the artwork"?

a: Photoshop is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to get a theme to look really polished. The quality and the style of the art matter a lot.

j: A question from one of our mods on the forum, @Mikadee: Do Xiaomi and the designer share revenue or is the theme store is just an open market for themes?

a: Simply put: The designers take 70%, MIUI takes 30% (after tax)

j: How much do the top designers make a month?

a: RMB 20,000 ~ RMB 30,000 (USD 3,300 - USD 4,920)

j: I heard that you have to design your own theme from scratch during the interview process... can you share yours?

a: Sure: this is the (ulgy) theme I designed for the assignment. I couldn't handle colors that well so I choose went with a black and white China ink motif... I like blue a lot so I colored the toggles  blue. I've seen so many themes now, when I look back on my own theme I think "OMG it's hideous"!


j: More questions from the users: What is your favourite MIUI theme? [miui-uk]

a: Here are my three favorite themes:


Touch the Future

And, of course, Iron Man... which you can get for free right here
Ironman1.png Ironman2.png

j: What about some of MIUI's more unique features: @andronaline asked: What's happening with MiSpace (MiDesktop) themes? I feel like it's a great concept but it's certainly not picking up.

a: MI desktop was a failed attempt. Some product managers thought that the "free-form" UI would bring a better experience... but it didn't. MIUI's Home screen already has tons of functionality and the MI desktop turned out to be kind of redundant. It was kind of like a decorative vase: beautiful to look at, but pretty much useless.

j: A lot of our users are curious about plans for the theme store to go international [Javajohn]... can you speak to that a bit?

a: We're already working on opening the store up to the international market. The most difficult part is the payment method... it takes too long. But we'll work it out, so just wait to be blown away!!!

j: Any idea to how payment might work outside of China?

a: I have no idea. I imagine the easiest thing would be to be like Amazon, Ebay, etc. and use Paypal.

j: I often see you playing old-school fighting games (via emulator) at lunch? What are your favorite fighting games?

a: hahaha busted! Yeah I love playing  the King of Fighters 97' and the King of Fighters 03'!


j: What else do you do when you're not looking at themes?

a: I like the show Modern Family. That is the family that I want to have one day. I also love SNL (Saturday Night Live). I like the show Two Broke Girls as well (Max is so mean, it's great!).


j: What about music?

a: I like Beyonce. She's the best singer of all time.  

j: I think we'll end here with the Single Ladies video (best video of all time...). Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!!

a: Glad to do it!!

Revisit your favorite interviews here!!
Episode 1: Merideth Han
Episode 2: Vasilije Vasiljević aka balcan.gsm

More interviews!
MIUI-UK founder of
Interview with Alex García Admin & Founder of

Don't forget to submit questions you have for the MIUI dev team's lead developer for Mail and File Explorer apps

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14:58, Oct-31-2013 | From PC

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15:05, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
New blood! More are warmly welcomed



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15:05, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
Great one! Hope to see more!!

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15:14, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
Awesome work!!!
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15:15, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
Great interview..

Thanks for sharing, nice to see the insite to the themes development team.
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16:02, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
Awesome work! Bravissimo....

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16:09, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
Thanks for the interview :)

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16:13, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
so cuteee......

i heard that miuiers will get a special theme in his/her birthday is it true or just a myth??? just once or every year???
To know MI is to love MI (◡ ‿ ◡ ✿)

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17:05, Oct-31-2013 | From PC
Nice interview, is good to know who is behind every great theme :)
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