Xiaomi just can’t help brazenly ripping off Apple

Xiaomi just can’t help brazenly ripping off Apple

The signature wallpaper for Apple’s macOS Mojave features sand dunes, segmented by a pretty undulating curve, and it changes with the time of your computer so you see light dunes in the day and a dark scene at night. It’s a neat, organic little feature. It’s also been shamelessly ripped off by Xiaomi, whose latest flagship device, the Mi 9, doesn’t even try to have a different background and just recreates the entire idea of colors shifting with the time of day. I guess Xiaomi will want credit for expanding the color palette a little, but I’ve got none to give. This is embarrassingly obvious and unnecessarily brazen.

 

macOS Mojave day and night dune wallpapers. Compare to Xiaomi’s recreation in the image above.

We’ve written at length about the ways in which Chinese companies copy Apple’s iPhone hardware and interface designs, and there’s some justification to be derived from looking into the matter closely. In some cases, it just makes sense to adopt widely-recognized interactions or UI paradigms. Twitter, for instance, did exactly that when it changed its “favorite” button for a “like” — Jack Dorsey’s justification is that it is simply a universal interaction that people had grown used to from Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere. So if a Chinese phone maker leans in a little too close to the iOS interface or icon style, I’m usually willing to forgive it.

But this Xiaomi move runs counter to the design and engineering goodwill that the company has been building up over the past couple of years. It’s a deliberate sidestep from just copying the iPhone’s wallpaper, which Xiaomi has done in the past, and it’s indicative of a company that seems unwilling to rely solely on its own ideas and capabilities. If Xiaomi doesn’t trust Xiaomi to design a phone without copying Apple in some way, what does that say for the trust we, as consumers, should invest in it?