How to switch from iOS to Android
Forget the flame wars: there are lots of perfectly sensible reasons why you might dump iOS for Android. There’s much more choice in terms of devices. You can save a fortune. You get much more customization.
But no matter your reasons, moving platform is rather like moving house: there’s a ton of stuff to sort out and put in your new space.
The good news is that it’s never been easier to move from iOS to Android. We’ll show you the easiest ways to get contacts transferred across, what apps you can and can’t replace and how to get your music from Apple to Android.
Traveling in the other direction? Check out our how to switch from Android to iPhone guide.
Techradar’s 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?
Step 1: Use Google Drive
Google Drive makes it easy to transfer your contacts, calendar and camera roll photos from iOS to Android.
Launch the app, go into Settings and look for the section marked Backup. Tell Google Drive what you want it to automatically backup, make sure you’ve got the phone plugged into its charger – this will take a while – and if at all possible be connected to the fastest Wi-Fi you can get.
Don’t fiddle with your phone or close the app until the backup is done.
There are plenty of apps that’ll transfer things too, but the benefit of doing it with the Google Drive app is that when you sign in to your new Android device with your Google Account, all the stuff you put in your Google Drive will be there waiting for you.
Step 2: Convert your contacts
If you don’t want to use Google Drive you can do contact and calendar updating manually. Apple and Google have a similar approach to contact management but they use their own rival services, so Apple uses iCloud and Google uses, well, Google.
So the trick to transferring contacts is to export them from iCloud and import them into your Google Account. If you haven’t already embraced iCloud sync on your iPhone you’ll need to enable it now. It’s in Settings > Your Name > iCloud (or Settings > iCloud if you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier): you want to ensure that Contacts, Calendars and Reminders are all checked.
Once you’ve done that, give iCloud enough time to sync – it doesn’t take long; a cup of tea should be more than enough – and then grab a PC or Mac computer and log onto iCloud.com with your Apple ID.
Select Contacts, click on the gear icon in the lower left of the screen and then choose > Select All > Export vCard. This will output all your contact information in the standard vCard format as a single .vcf file.
You’ve probably guessed the next bit: log into Gmail (again, on a desktop or laptop), change the Drop-down at the top left from Gmail to Contacts and then choose Import Contacts in the left hand sidebar (There’s a redesign imminent, after which it’ll be More > Import Contacts).
Select the .vcf file you just created and the contacts will be added in a flash. You can automatically find and fix duplicates here too: click on More in the toolbar immediately above your contacts and then select Find & Merge Duplicates. Once again the redesign will move that slightly: Duplicates will be an option at the top of the sidebar.
Step 3: Identify the right apps
This is by far the biggest PITA about platform switching: you can’t transfer apps across like you can with content or contacts.
That means paying again for paid apps or searching for more affordable alternatives, and downloading every single one of them.
It’s not all bad, though: unlike some platforms (cough!) Windows 10 Mobile (cough!) the Google Play Store isn’t like a haunted shopping mall, painted images of smiling people where shops used to be.
There’s actually apps there. Good ones. Quite a few of them. You’ll find that the big name apps are cross-platform so your Amazons, eBays, Kindles and so on will pick up from where you left off; of the few apps you can’t get on Android you can usually find decent alternatives.
Step 4: Sort out your music
There are three kinds of music to think about: music on your device, music you’ve stored in the cloud and music you’ve subscribed to but don’t own. Apple Music and Spotify fall into that last category and you can get Android versions of both apps.
Cloud music is more of a pain. If you used iTunes Match to put your music collection in the cloud you should be able to access it from the Apple Music app. We say “should” because we’ve learnt to be very suspicions of Apple’s cloud storage for music, which always seems to be fine for every track except the one we actually want to play.
You might want to download your cloud stuff to your PC or Mac first to be on the safe side and then transfer it with the rest of your library.
The fastest transfer is from your computer to your phone. If it’s Windows the default library location is My Music > iTunes, and if it’s OS X it’s Music > iTunes under your user account.
You can then drag and drop or copy and paste that library onto your phone in Windows Explorer, but you can’t do that on a Mac: you’ll need the Android File Transfer app to enable you to do that.
Step 5: change your calendar and upload your photos
Uploading photos is even easier, and much less painful than transferring music.
Download Google Photos to your iPhone, connect it to your Google Account and yell “HELL YEAH!” when it asks if you want to backup all your photos to the cloud.
This gives you unlimited storage for free if you don’t mind an almost imperceptible loss of image quality, or you can go for full resolution until you run out of or expand your Google Drive storage. You get 15GB as standard and upgrades aren’t too expensive.
There are two ways to do this: via SmoothSync for Android ($2.86/£2.19), or via the slightly cheaper and slightly more time consuming process of going into Settings and synchronizing your iPhone calendar with your Google one.
Step 6: sync your browser bookmarks
If you’re already using Chrome on your iPhone and syncing with Chrome on desktop, you don’t need to do anything here: Android already has your bookmarks.
If not, go into Safari on your computer and select File > Export Bookmarks. This creates a single HTML file containing all your bookmarks that you can then import into Chrome. Chrome (desktop) will then sync those bookmarks with Chrome (Android).
Step 7: erase your iPhone
Once you’ve ensured that you’ve got everything and checked, checked and checked again to be sure, it’s time to get your iPhone ready for its fate: eBay, perhaps, or a grateful friend or family member.
First of all you need to disable Find My Phone in Settings > Your Name > iCloud (or Settings > iCloud on older iOS versions), because if you don’t you’ll be giving someone the gift of a phone they can’t use.
Once you’ve done that you can then go into Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings, which does exactly what it sounds like it’ll do.
That’s it! You’re done!