Xiaomi Accused of Ripping Off iOS7

Hugo Barra, CEO of Xiaomi, has spent the last few weeks denying that his company is shamelessly copying Apple's iOS7. Unsurprisingly large sections of the media have been vocally disputing the point following the announcement of the latest version of the company's Android skin - MIUI v6. It's not surprising really, look at the screen shot on the left. Those icons? The look and feel? The whole things smacks of an iOS 7 ripoff.

Shame on you Xiaomi. Wait... what's that? Things aren't as they seem?

Apparently not. This is a screenshot of Xiaomi's MIUI v5 smartphone skin for Android - released in April 2013. And iOS7? That was announced at WWDC in June 2013.

So unless Xiaomi have a secret time machine it's unlikely they're ripping off Apple quite as shamelessly as we're being led to believe. Even so, there's enough iOS6 design cues in there to make it difficult for the Chinese company to claim it's design is in any way novel.

Barra's claims that Apple is an inspiration for the work they do sounds reasonable on this basis. After all, we've already seen how Apple borrows from the competition as much as it's borrowed from. A little of the same is going to be difficult to dispute on that basis.

That said, the close physical relationship between various Xiaomi devices and Apple's still looks a little too much like blatant copying. Having devices on the market that look enough like Apple's to fool onlookers can't hurt sales - especially when Xiaomi is selling it's devices at a cheaper (and therefore larger) market.

As a result of this visual similarity Xiaomi's sales are going through the roof - with volumes expected to top 70 million this year. With most of those sales happening in China, it's likely that Apple will have to live with any wrongs it feels are happening. Once Xiaomi decides to take it's products international things might just be a little different.

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