How to switch from iPhone to Android

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If you’re hankering for an Honor or pining for a Pixel, you might be put off by the prospect of switching from an iPhone.

If you’ve been on iOS for a while, chances are you’ll be enmeshed in Apple’s ecosystem. But switching from iOS to Android is easier than you might think, especially now that so many of our apps are cloud-based: getting up and running on Facebook, Instagram or Spotify is just a matter of installing the app and signing in on your new device.

That’s not to say it won’t involve some disruption. Moving OS is rather like moving house: there’s more to it than just shifting your data. But with a bit of preparation and a few simple steps you can move what matters and be up and running in no time.

First things first: it’s always a good idea to give your device a bit of a spring clean before you move. After all, why bother transferring ancient photos, videos or other content you don’t need?

The easiest way to back up most of your stuff is to use the Google Drive app’s Backup facility.

Step 1: Use Google Drive

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A handy hint

Before you transfer anything, give your phone a bit of a spring clean: why transfer stuff you don’t want such as unwanted photos or videos or contact details for people you don’t speak to any more?

The Google Drive app makes it easy to transfer three key kinds of data from iOS to Android: your contacts, your calendar and your camera roll. Simply install the app, sign in to your Google account (or create a new one if you don’t already have one) and then go into Settings > Backup. If you don’t want to backup a particular kind of data, such as your calendar, then you can switch it off here.

Watch out for the photo section, because there are two options here: if you want to upload your photos in original quality, they’ll count towards your Google Drive storage limit. If you select High Quality instead the quality will be lower (yes, it’s confusing) but the difference is hardly noticeable and you get unlimited storage for those photos.

If you’re willing to accept slightly lower quality, Google offers unlimited photo storage. If you want to upload the originals they’ll come out of your storage quota.

(Image credit: Apple)

If you’d rather not do it through the Google app, you can export your contacts manually from your computer. Provided you use iCloud sync for your data – and you almost certainly do, because it’s on by default – you can log into iCloud.com and export data from there.

To export your contacts, go into the Contacts section and look for the gear icon at the bottom left of the screen. Click it, choose Select All, then click it again and choose Export vCard. This will download a vCard file to your computer.

Now, go to contacts.google.com and sign in. Look at the bottom left of the screen where you’ll see the Import link. Click on that to select the vCard file you just downloaded.

If you didn’t clean up your contacts before exporting them you can fix any duplicates by clicking on Merge and Fix. This gets Google to scan your contacts for duplicates and for the most up-to-date contact information.

You can export a subset of contacts too: use the Search field to find the contacts you want to export then click on settings > Select All > Export vCard.

Step 3: Identify the right apps

You can’t simply copy your apps from iOS to Android, but it’s easy enough to find most of the same apps in the Google Play store. All the big hitters are there, so for example it’s easy to find all the key social media apps, Spotify, Netflix and so on. 

There will be some differences, though, so for example the Dark Sky weather app is no longer available on Android because Apple’s bought it and the games in Apple Arcade are exclusive to Apple. Generally speaking, though, if an app isn’t available there will be an almost identical equivalent in the Play Store.

Where things are a bit of a pain in the backside is when you want to get a paid app that you already own (that is, an app you buy outright rather than a service you subscribe to). In the majority of cases, an app you bought on iOS will not be available for free on Android – so the game you paid $4.99 for in the iOS App Store will be another $4.99 if you want to play it on Android. Check out Google Play Pass, though: it’s Google’s equivalent to Apple Arcade and includes some well-loved titles.

Don’t assume you’ll have to re-buy your favorite games. Many top titles are available as part of Google Play Pass.

Step 4: Move your music

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There are three kinds of music to think about here. Streaming music, cloud music and local music.

Music from streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music can be transferred simply by installing the appropriate app and signing in.

Cloud music is music you’ve stored in a cloud service, so for example if you used iTunes Match to copy your music collection to the cloud that should still be available in the Apple Music app.

Moving music files or other kinds of files from device to device is best done on a computer, so for example if you’ve stored music files in iCloud Drive you can drag them out of there and into Google Drive (or DropBox, or whichever other cloud service you prefer). If you want to move music from your iTunes library you’ll find that in Music > iTunes under your user account (on a Mac) or My Music > iTunes on a PC.

If you get your music from streaming, you can simply install the appropriate Android app. And that includes Apple Music.

(Image credit: Apple)

If you’re already using Chrome on iOS to sync with Chrome on your desktop computer, you don’t need to worry about this step. But if you’ve been using the stock Safari browser on your iOS device you’ll need to export your bookmarks. Safari syncs with the desktop version, so go into that and choose File > Export Bookmarks. You can then import them into Chrome on your desktop, which will then sync with Chrome on your Android device.

It’s important to note that this will not export your stored passwords or autofill entries, so make sure you’ve got a note of any passwords you need to keep.

Always make sure you’ve disabled Find My Phone, signed out of iCloud and erased all of your data before selling or passing your iPhone or iPad on.

Step 6: erase your tracks

If you’re transferring all your stuff because you’re selling or giving away your device, it’s crucial that you do two things: turn off Find My Phone, and erase everything. If you don’t do the former then the next owner won’t be able to use the device, and if you don’t do the latter it’s a potential privacy disaster.

We can’t stress this enough: don’t erase your phone until you are absolutely certain that you have everything you need on your new device. Erasing an iPhone or iPad is irreversible, so it’s always wise to check absolutely everything first.

When you’re sure everything’s okay, go to Settings and tap on your profile information at the top. Now, tap on Find My and set Find My Phone to “off”. Go back to the main Settings menu, scroll down to General and tap on Reset. Now, tap on Erase All Content and Settings.

That’s it: you’re done. Happy Androiding!

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