How To Abandon iOS And Switch To Android

Having guided you through the not-all-that-straightforward process of switching from Android to iOS, we're back to tell you how to go in the opposite direction. (Make your mind up will you?) Going from Apple-powered devices to Google's platform is either ridiculously easy or rather taxing, depending on your current setup.

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Do you Google?

Good news if you're already heavily invested in the Google ecosystem on your iPhone. You can switch to Android in an hour or two and keep your evening free for seeing friends or browsing Netflix. Otherwise, better cancel those evening plans.

Those of you who spend all your time in Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Maps for iOS can simply install those apps on your brand new Android device, sign in using your Google account credentials, and pick up where you left off. The same applies for Google Photos and Google Drive.

Google Drive can handle contacts and calendars for you. Image: Google

Unlike Apple, Google doesn't have a dedicated app to help you defect to its mobile OS, but it does have a website with a lot of the information you're going to need: essentially you're instructed to use Google Drive to copy over contacts, photos, videos and calendar entries, which we'll cover in more detail below.

If you're thinking about switching from iOS to Android in the future, or like to swap mobile OSes on a regular basis, then Google's cloud-centric services make the task much easier -- so your best off keeping all your data there. By contrast, the only official Apple app you can get on Android at the moment is Apple Music.

Messages and emails

Extricating yourself from iMessage is perhaps the biggest challenge facing those jumping ship to Android. iMessage doesn't work on Google's platform, and there's no way to export all your message history into a comparable Android app. You're going to have to say goodbye to iMessage, but you can at least ensure a clean break. As soon as you know you're making the move go into your iOS and navigate to Messages in Settings and turn iMessage off, then go to FaceTime in Settings and turn that off too. Apple's full instructions are here.

If you have some precious iMessages or plain old SMSes you can't leave behind, you'll need to rely on third-party software and some rather convoluted processes to back it all up. iSMS2droid promises to import messages from an unencrypted backup you made in iTunes on your computer into Android. If you don't need the backup on your phone, then PhoneView (macOS) and CopyTrans (Windows) are two of many tools that will let you browse your old missives to your heart's content.

It's goodbye to iMessage. Image: Screenshot

As for emails, Apple's system supports IMAP, so you can carry on checking your iCloud emails through Gmail on Android if you're not having a fresh start and giving up your old email address completely. Tap the drop-down arrow on the Gmail app menu, choose Add account, and follow the configuration instructions provided by Apple. It's the same process if you're using any other kind of email app on your new Android device, like Outlook from Microsoft. The only requirement is that it supports the popular IMAP protocol.

You have a couple of other options if putting your iCloud account directly into Gmail doesn't appeal. You can have all your Apple iCloud emails automatically forwarded to your new Gmail address, by going into iCloud Mail on the web and setting up forwarding -- you can even delete the originals after they're passed on. Alternatively, you can export all your old emails using Mail on a Mac just in case you ever need them again, then close down your Apple account.

Contacts and calendars

As long as you just want to make a one-way, one-time switch from iOS to Android, then Google Drive for iOS makes the process of moving contacts and calendars over simple enough.

Once you've got the app installed on your iOS device, open the menu then tap Settings and Backup. Choose the data you want to transfer across to the equivalent Google accounts, tap Start Backup and you're on your way -- everything from iOS and iCloud gets picked up. Make sure you're on wi-fi, and the iPhone is plugged in during the switchover. Also note, that any previous backups you've done will be overwritten.

macOS can help make switching calendars easier. Image: Screenshot

If you want a two-way sync, which you might if you're using your Android phone with an Apple laptop, then it's a lot more complicated. The best option, really, is to switch to using Google contacts and calendars as much as you can, and then adding your Google account to the relevant apps in macOS (Add Account from the main app menu in both cases).

Even then you need to make sure you're always adding events to the Google calendars (or contacts) and not the iCloud ones for them to show up on your phone. If you absolutely must keep both Google and iCloud services running concurrently, and syncing with each other, then you'll need to put your trust in a third-party app for macOS or Android.

Photos and videos

Since Google Photos came into the world it's actually pretty easy to get all your personal photos and videos moved over to Android, via Google's servers, as long as they're all still on your iPhone: Install Google Photos for iOS, opt to back everything up, and away you go. You can either pay Google for storage and keep everything at full resolution, or accept some resizing (images max out at 16 MP, videos at 1080p), and store as many photos and videos as you like on the web, free of charge.

The process is even more straightforward if you use the Google Drive app as we described in the section above, and Google Photos even supports Live Photos these days, using those extra few frames of animation to create a GIF for you. The only negative is that the albums you've created in iOS don't get copied over (everything appears as one long list of pictures), so you need to create them again.

Google Photos can transfer images and videos. (Image: Google)

All that is easy enough but if you've got photos in iCloud you've moved off your iPhone then you might have a problem or two on your hands. As we explained in our full guide to the topic of switching between Apple Photos and Google Photos, just about the only option open to you is downloading them all from iCloud to a macOS or Windows machine then uploading them again using a Google Photos client.

It's a little convoluted but it's manageable, and it's a lot easier than using the export options in iCloud on the web, which are practically non-existent. If you don't have a computer to act as the middleman between iCloud Photo Library and Google Photos then you're stuck -- you'll have to borrow a laptop from someone.

Music and movies

As we now have Apple Music on Android, getting your iTunes music on your Android device is no longer the exercise in frustration it once was. As far as tunes you've actually purchased directly from iTunes, it's probably the best option out there, though you do need to have signed up for an Apple Music subscription to be able to use the app and get at your purchases.

Otherwise, it depends on where your music is and how it's stored. Any plain old MP3s you were syncing to your iPhone from iTunes can be uploaded to Google Play Music instead (50,000 of them can be stored for free), or you can use something like DoubleTwist, which is just about the leading choice if you want to keep on using iTunes alongside Android for your music. If you're signed up for Spotify you just need the Android app.

Apple Music, now on Android. Image: Screenshot

Likewise, if you've been accessing all your movies and TV shows through Netflix, Plex or Google Play Movies & TV then you just need to find and install the relevant app for Android and you're ready to go. All these services let you stream to multiple devices from a single account, so you can carry on using your iOS device if you need to.

However, any videos you've purchased from iTunes won't run on Android at all -- there's just no app to do it unless Apple ever gets around to making one. Several tools out there will do the job of removing iTunes DRM for you, but since we're getting into murky legal territory with that, we'll leave you to discover them for yourself. If you've invested hundreds of dollars in an iTunes digital library then you can still watch it on macOS, Windows, and the Apple TV, but not Android.

Apps and games

Generally speaking, all the apps you use on your iPhone are going to be available on Android as well, though there are a few exceptions -- like Overcast and Day One. In terms of paid-for apps, you're going to have to pay for them all again, unfortunately, though something like a Spotify subscription buys you access on both Android and iOS.

Whether all your data (from documents to saved games) moves over with you is another matter and worth checking up on before you make the switch. If you're in any doubt, get in touch with the developer directly to see what the situation is (you might be out of luck with anything that relies heavily on the iCloud storage system).

Some paid-for iOS games, like Alto's Adventure, are free to play on Android. (Image: Noodlecake Studios Inc)

We can't give you a guide to everything out there, but think about your productivity, fitness, and banking apps. Assess how much data is stored locally and what's going to happen to it. If you can, keep your old iPhone and new Android phone running alongside each other for a while until you're certain everything's been moved over successfully without too many bumps in the road.

You might not believe it if you've read everything that's above, but moving from iOS to Android is actually much easier than it used to be, thanks mainly to an increased focus on cloud services (even, belatedly, from Apple itself). As long as you take your time, and don't live your life inside iMessage, you don't have to feel daunted by the task.

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Comments

    You can't. It's too late for the iSheep. Abandon them and concentrate on saving their children!

      Android users are like vegans and religious nuts. Nobody asked them, nobody actually has a problem with their choice, but they definitely have a problem with yours and are going to give you 12 reasons as to why theirs is better!

        the recent outrage re: Bunnings Vegan snags is proof that there are plenty of people who have a problem with their choice.
        and also the girl that said I was poor cause I had an HTC X10 instead of an iPhone can get fucked. I just don't want to spend over $1000 on something I'm probably going to drop within the next couple of years.

          Yea the price difference on a plan is pretty minimal, but no way I'd buy a $1000+ phone outright unless I was able to write it off on tax.

            maybe I am poor, I buy outright and am on prepaid cause I'm on Wi-Fi 99% of the time. I spend maybe $25 a month at most.

              I'm not poor, but I have a Redmi Note 3 Special Edition because it gave me Band 28 and 32GB storage for $200 (No NFC though which is a bummer, and a bad camera). I'm also on prepaid.

      That's fine, there is still a chance) Especially if you no longer consider iPhone as an element of status. Even for developers it is already more profitable to make applications on android.

    I don't use any apple services except imessage on my iPhone, works beautifully with exchange from outlook.com with custom domain. Android though? It would constantly hassle and nag me to create a gmail and convert my custom domain google account into an alias. No thanks.

    All major phone OS support exchange or imap, if you use it for syncing your emails, calendar and contacts it doesn't matter what phone you buy, or if you lose your phone, you will always get them back. Don't get suckered into ANY walled garden whether it be Apple, Google, or even your ISP's email (especially the awful pop3 options). They all exist to keep you as a customer and make moving inconvenient, without offering any real benefit.

    I have moved from iOS, to Windows Phone, to Android and back to iOS without going through any of the bullcrap in this article, because I set up exchange email/contact/calendar sync from the very beginning on my first smartphone. Now with Windows 10, all the exact same things are synced live. Just make sure your photos are backed up, especially if they're the only place you have 4000 photo's of your children, and you're free of the shackles Apple and Google hope to restrain you.

      It would constantly hassle and nag me to create a gmail and convert my custom domain google account into an alias. No thanks.
      Not once has android ever asked me to convert my custom domain to a gmail service. Try again.
      Any gmail account is required to use the app store. Gosh, who would have thought just like Apple.

      Don't get suckered into ANY walled garden whether it be Apple, Google, or even your ISP's email

      100% agreed.

      I've taken a similar approach after a while too.

      It's far better to diversify your services across different companies that are cross-platform rather than be locked into an all-in-one. It makes switching platforms on a whim much much easier.

    App to transfer over wifi or cable - native music from iTunes onto Android - iSyncr

    App for Google Calendar, Exchange, Daum Calendar, Naver Calendar, iCloud, Yahoo! Calendar, Yahoo! and any other calendar services that support CalDAV. - SolCalendar.

    Yeah, this sounds great and all, but why are Android phones rooted by their owners? Why doesn't my iPhone need to be scanned by anti-virus/anti-malware software? Why am I bothering to put these point to you? I'd use a windows phone before I would return to an android zombie phone.

      For 100% customisation and illegal apps. I would say 99% of Android users don't root their phones.

      When I had a Galaxy Note (first one) I rooted to do a custom Android install to make the phone faster and better on battery life... because Samsung did a shitty job with the stock install.

      Some devices can benefit quite a bit from root and customisation, particularly those afflicted by bloat or lower end hardware. Some software relies on root to work. The vast majority of users don't need it and probably don't even know what it is.

      Why do iPhone users have to root the phones by their owners? Why does iPhone need to be scanned by anti-virus/anti-malware software?

      My phone is rooted to be able to do real app backups: particularly for moving Google Authenticator between devices. 99% of the time I don't need it rooted, but on those rare occasions when I need elevated privileges then it's what I need.

      Most Android phones are not rooted.

      Most Android devices also don't need to be scanned by anti-virus/anti-malware software, but the much lower level of curation that Google applies to the app store means that it is more likely that malicious apps can reach Google Play than the Apple App Store. Of course, it also means Google doesn't block satirical or political apps seemingly arbitrarily either (see https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/apples-struggle-with-political-app/?_r=0).

      With the improving permissions models on Android, the impact of malicious apps is somewhat reduced. However, because Android device manufacturers are almost uniformly hopeless at providing updates for any reasonable length of time Android devices are much more likely to be vulnerable. In general, Apple devices are more secure over a long period. I say this as an Android user.

      Also, don't imagine that there are no malicious apps on the Apple App Store (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34338362 http://fortune.com/2016/03/16/malware-infect-apple-iphone-ipad/ http://www.computerworld.com/article/2498560/security0/researcher-plants-rogue-app-in-apple-s-app-store.html) so don't get too comfortable on your high-horse, assuming you're not adhered to it.

      Also, iPhone is no longer the innovation leader in phones that it once was.

    Hi David! Irina from CopyTrans here. Just wanted to stop by and thank you for mentioning CopyTrans Contacts in your article. Take care :)

    having spent 20k on the itunes store over the years (movies and tv shows) not having the ability to use my entire catalogue on android has stopped me.

    oh and google photos app is the worst. i left it updating 10000+ photos on wifi and a week later it still had not finished

      Really? It's not fast (few of them are in Australia, I think OneDrive is probably one of the better ones myself) but it's still way better than iCloud Photos, which has the most ridiculous syncing system ever.

        Yeah totally ridiculous how you just take photos and they magically appear on your tablet or laptop/desktop (windows or mac). Such a hassle.

          You can't selectively sync though, and it still keeps a local copy that chews up local storage. There's no way to really control it. One of the best parts of syncing is the ability to move stuff off local storage (especially given how absurdly expensive storage is on iOS devices).

            You can save space-
            iCloud Photo Library keeps all of your photos and videos in their original, high-resolution version. You can save space on your device when you turn on Optimize Storage.

              But it still stores a vast bulk of photos locally and there's no real way to control what it does or doesn't keep. It's vastly inferior to Google Photos or OneDrive. It could be easily fixed but Apple went for a strange system and ended up with something that only gets it half right.

      Wtf? You spent $20k on itunes? You must have rocks in your head...lol.

      I thought I went too far buy $300 worth of itunes cards at 25% off sale to get music. At least the music files are DRM free.

        Yeah, and you can always use software to remove DRM on movies and TV series you've purchased anyway.

      20k on stuff you don't actually own? I felt shafted when i lost a cpl hundred dollars worth of itunes music when i moved to android. Collosal waste of cash.

    How do I switch my Apple Watch 2 over? Will it sync with my Android phone? Or at worst can I sync it with my PC or something?

      You can't. Either get rid of the watch or stay with iOS

        Nice. Thanks Apple. If there was something similar with the latest Android Wear I'd drop it, but I haven't found anything quite right yet.

    Lack of articles, so you change the date on one that was published in May?

    I like both OS's but the thing that keeps me on iOS is that my family are on iOS and we share holiday and family pics through iMessage. I know there are other messaging services but I don't expect everyone I know to change there messaging app just because I want a different phone.

    Honestly, i have both an iPad and an Samsung tablet. I honestly feel the Android OS is a lot more flexible by default, however Nova Prime Launcher is just plain awesome in its power. It makes my inflexible iPad hard to use in comparison and a bit of a frustrating experience.

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