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Apple detox: How to switch from iOS to Android without missing a beat

Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple iPhone 5

So you’ve decided that maybe the grass is greener on the other side and you’re all set to trip trap across the Android bridge. In this guide we’re going to help you get past any trolls you might encounter, unscathed. Making the switch from iPhone to Android presents a few obstacles, especially if you’re heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, but they’re far from insurmountable.

We’re going to take a look at how to transfer contacts and other data, switch to Google services, and deal with your music, photos and videos. To round things off, we’ll provide a few tips to help you get used to Android, quell some common fears, and point out how best to take advantage of your new platform’s highlights.

What you’re leaving behind

Before you embark on this journey to the promised land of Android, take one last look around you. There are a few things you’ll have to leave behind. Many of the cases, docks, and other accessories you bought for your iPhone are not going to be compatible with Android smartphones (it’s worth checking, though, because many are). Your iOS apps cannot go with you, but you’ll find most of them have Android counterparts awaiting your arrival. Any DRM protected content you bought in iTunes is stuck there (you can easily and legally remove the restrictions from music, but not from TV shows and movies).

Last, but not least, there’s your iPhone itself. If you’re not gifting it to someone then you might want to peruse our guide on how to sell an iPhone without getting ripped off.

Transferring contacts

You’ll want to transfer your contacts before you sell your old device. Check out our guide on how to transfer your contacts between iPhone and Android for a simple method that employs iTunes and Gmail.

How to transfer your contacts between iPhone and Android

It’s also possible to do this with the free My Contacts Backup app. Install it on your iPhone, launch it, tap backup, and then email the backup file to an email account on your Android phone. You’ll get a VCF file which you can import into your Android contacts app.

If you want to use the process as an excuse to thin the herd and edit your contacts, then you might consider doing it one by one. In that case, just open the contact you want to transfer on your iPhone, and select Share Contact to send it as a text message or by email.

Syncing your calendar

This is easy if you’ve already set up your Google account and Gmail (which you’ll need for your Android phone anyway). Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars on your iPhone and add your Gmail account or select it, then turn on syncing for Calendars. If you want to ditch your iPhone for an Android device, but keep your iPad, the Gmail app is a good way to keep your calendar and contacts synced. You can even sync multiple Google calendars to your iPad if you need to do so.

Switching from Apple to Google services

Apple is renowned for that tightly integrated ecosystem, but if you’re switching to Android you’ll want to start using more Google services. Your Google account has gradually come to serve as a passport for a wide range of services and cross platform synchronization has improved drastically over the last couple of years. Forget about iCloud and Safari, you can find all the same functionality, and more, via Google. As long as you are signed in to your Google account, you can access all your contacts, bookmarks, appointments, and files on any device.

google services
  • Google Contacts for backing up and sharing contacts
  • Google Calendar for keeping on top of your schedule
  • Chrome browser can sync bookmarks and open tabs between computer and Android phone
  • Google Drive for backing up your files
  • Google Docs for editing and sharing documents
  • Google Music for storing and streaming your music from the cloud
  • Google+ for chatting and sharing, or backing up photos

On top of all that, you’ve got YouTube for watching and sharing video, Google Maps for easy navigation, and Google Wallet for wireless NFC payments. Then there’s Google Now, as your personal voice-activated assistant (similar to Siri), not to mention a host of excellent Google apps from Sky Map to Google Goggles, from Translate to Field Trip.

Many of these things are actually available on iPhone as well, but the experience on Android is optimal. The fact you can have all of this under one Google account, makes it easy and accessible, and you’ll be tempted to use more and more Google services. There are also loads of great alternatives that you can use instead of, or as well as, the Google offerings, apps like Dropbox, DoubleTwist, and Dolphin Browser.

Moving photos and videos

There are various ways of getting your precious files from your iPhone onto your Android, but we’ll start with the most obvious and basic. You can plug your iPhone into your Windows PC via USB and then choose Import pictures and videos for an automatic transfer, or Open device to view files (your photos and videos will be in the Internal Storage/DCIM folder) if you want to select individually. If you have a Mac, the import window should pop up when you plug your iPhone in and you can select files from there.

Once the files are on your Windows computer, plug your Android smartphone in via USB, and you should get a pop up window where you can select Open device to view files. You can drag and drop files from your computer onto your Android. To do the same on a Mac, check out our how to transfer files from an Android to a Mac guide.

iPhone photo library to Android photo library

It may prove easier to transfer those photos and videos wirelessly, though it will take longer. You can do this using any cloud service. Simply install Google Drive or DropBox on your iPhone, upload the files, and then install the same app on your Android, and download them.

For more details on using apps to back up and share your photos, check out our how to share photos on Android guide. You could actually use a number of the apps and services discussed there to transfer your photos and videos from iPhone.

Moving your music

If you want to get your music from your iTunes account onto Android there are a few potential ways to go. The easiest is probably to sign in to Google Music on the same computer where your iTunes is installed. Now download the Music Manager, install it, and choose the iTunes option when it asks where you store your music. You’ll then be able to select Upload all songs and playlists. You can also select individual playlists and podcasts. Perhaps best of all, you can continue to use iTunes and automatically sync any new purchases to your Google Music account.

We run through a number of other options in our how to play iTunes music and videos on your Android phone guide. You can’t legally copy movies or TV shows from your iTunes to your Android smartphone because you would have to remove the DRM protection first. Unfortunately, that applies to e-books purchased through iTunes as well.

iTunes rip

Moving your text messages

This is a lot trickier than anything we’ve discussed so far, but some people will want to keep those precious iPhone text conversations, and load them onto their new Android smartphones. It is possible. The most obvious method is to use the free iSMS2droid app, but it hasn’t been updated in a long time and it won’t work for everyone. It also requires you to back up your SMS to iTunes and then go digging around to find the right file to convert.

You can use Samsung Kies software to restore an iPhone backup (including text messages) to a Samsung Android smartphone. You’ll also find quite a few premium software options online which purport to allow you to copy text messages, contacts, photos, and even call logs, but we can’t vouch for their effectiveness.

Next up, we’ll take a look at how to make yourself at home on Android.