Since nearly the dawn of the smartphone, it’s been an Android versus iOS world. Well, unless you remember BlackBerry. Regardless of the platform, switching between Apple and Google’s ecosystems hasn’t always been easy, though Apple did release a handy “Move to iOS” app in the Play Store in 2015 for Android users making a move.
Perhaps shaking in its boots over how easy Apple has made it for folks to switch, Google has finally soft launched its own branded Switch to Android app for those going the other way. The app syncs up your two devices to transfer over data while also walking you through the process of deactivating iMessage and relegating yourself into the Green Bubble zone. (It’s really not so bad over here.)
Before, if you were moving from iPhone to Android, you had to navigate to this Switch to Android page on the web to learn how to back up your stuff and move it using Google Drive. Heading to a page in a browser isn’t the most intuitive way to switch platforms, and it certainly isn’t going to inspire a mass exodus of folks over from ageing iPhone devices.
The new Switch to Android app aims to make this change a little easier, though it’s not baked enough to test out thoroughly, and is likely to get a more official launch further down the line. The app currently lives unlisted in the Apple App Store, perhaps afraid of the Apple banhammer, and though you can download it to your iPhone and try it out, it’s currently missing a lot of features.
After installing and launching the app, the first prompt asks you to connect the Android device you’re migrating to by using the camera to scan in a QR code. If it’s unavailable, there’s also an option to directly connect to a device using a WiFi Direct network name and password. It’s not entirely clear how this works, but 9to5Google mentioned that it ran into the same issue in its walkthrough. It’s likely the Android setup process hasn’t been updated to work with the new migration tool. I even tried wiping my OnePlus 10 Pro and setting it up again to see if it would serve me a QR code.
I was able to skip that first step and jump straight through to the third, which is turning off iMessage before moving your SIM card. The fourth and last step has you sign in using your Apple ID to copy over photos and videos from iCloud. However, the process sounds tedious, since it involves sending a request to Apple to send over a copy of your data. As such, I couldn’t test it myself before publication.
The app then leads you to a support page, and depending on your photo library, it can take anywhere from three to seven days to finish copying over. At that rate, you’re much better off manually uploading the photos into Google Photos yourself.
Google’s Switch to Android app isn’t a total surprise. It was leaked and rumoured about last year, and it’s a natural move for the company considering that Apple has done the same. Putting the platform wars aside for a second, it’s also crucial for Google to offer this, because many users are still unaware that they need to disable iMessage before moving over, as not disabling it can cause issues with sending and receiving texts.
But the Switch to Android app as it exists now, hiding in an app store, is merely a vessel for moving locally-stored data like your contacts, calendar, photos, and video. Google’s screenshot in the App Store entry for this app only shows those four categories, too. There’s no accounting for messages, and there’s no mention of which apps you’d use as iOS equivalents on Android, one of the major pain points of switching between the two platforms.
At the very least, the Switch to Android app doesn’t require a cable to tether two devices and move data between them, so that’s nice. Anyway, Google’s browser-based Switch to Android page has not been updated to reflect the app’s existence. Hopefully, some of the kinks get worked out and more features get added before this is officially live.