Up until recently, Hugo Barra was one of the most visible faces behind Google Android. As vice president of Android Product Management, Barra was a regular at Google’s press and developer events, often showing off new devices and features.

Now he’s showing off a new job: Barra is leaving Google after more than 5 years with the company. He’s moving to Xiaomi, where he’ll be responsible for growing the Chinese device maker’s international business.

xiaomi red rice

Xiaomi is only a few years old, but it’s already one of the most important tech companies in China, with an estimated value of $10 billion. It’s staffed partially by former employees of Microsoft, Google, and Motorola, and it makes some of the most popular smartphones in China.

The company’s phones have a reputation as high performance, high quality devices at affordable prices. While they run Google Android software, Xiaomi’s smartphones use the MIUI interface which is a skin that makes Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense look small tweaks to Google’s software.

MIUI is a thorough overhaul of the Android user interface, and while it’s often compared to Apple’s iOS, it’s more like a suite of apps and design elements made to make Android look like a cross between iOS and, well, Android.

Right now Xiaomi’s phones are only sold in and around China and Taiwan. But the hiring of Barra is a pretty clear signal that the company plans to expand beyond the borders of those countries.

Xiaomi has also recently started branching out into other types of devices, including TV boxes and tablets.

via AllThingsD

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