MIUI is the custom version of Android Nougat that runs on Xiaomi smartphones and tablets. Seven years after it was announced, MIUI has 2.8 billion users in 142 countries. We're now up to version 9, for which the beta was officially announced in China today.

When is the MIUI 9.0 release date?

The MIUI 9 beta was unveiled on 26 July.

MIUI 9 is running on the brand-new Xiaomi Mi 5X out of the box, and from 11 August will also be available for the Xiaomi Mi6, Redmi Note 4 (Qualcomm edition) and Redmi Note 4X (beta testers are required).

On 25 August support will be added for the Mi Mix, Mi Note 2, Mi 5, Mi 5s, Mi 5s Plus, Mi 5c, Mi Max 2, Mi Max, Mi 4s, Mi 4c, Mi Note Pro and Redmi 4X. All other Mi devices bar the Mi 1/1S and Mi 2A will get the update in late September.

For now many of the features are available only in China, but a global rollout of the MIUI 9 beta will follow soon.

What are the new features in MIUI 9.0?

The key new features in MIUI 9 focus on smart features. There's a new smart assistant that helps you get whatever you need done (which we'll also see in the new Mi AI smart speaker), a smart app launcher that can quick-launch a relevant app based on the content shown onscreen, and a smart image search feature that lets you find pictures by keyword.

Another new feature we'd consider to be pretty smart is a new split-screen feature, which was confirmed by the company ahead of the announcement alongside a redesigned lock screen shortcut, three new themes and the removal of rarely used features in the Settings menu.

As you'd expect there are many system optimisations for a more fluid experience. At the launch event there was a focus on apps launching faster and dynamic resource allocation, but there are a great many more besides this as you'll see in the screen below.

MIUI 9 system optimisation  

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017 & 2018

Follow Marie Black on Twitter.