How to switch from Android to iPhone with the 'Move to iOS' app

Apple's 'Move to iOS' Android app makes it relatively painless to transfer your data to an iPhone or iPad.

move to ios app
Derek Walter

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So you’ve finally decided to ditch the wild and unruly land of Android for the polished and proper iOS. 

There’s now an app for that. An Android app, from Apple. Move to iOS will transfer your Android device’s contacts, Gmail, photos, and other data in a few relatively simple steps. It works on any Android device running 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher, and will move the data to any iPhone or iPad.

I tried it out on a Galaxy Note 5 and iPhone 5S. The process was rather easy, just as Apple promised. But there are a few details about exactly what and where Apple moves everything that you should know about.

Start fresh

A friendly PSA: the app only works if you’re setting up your iPhone or iPad as a new device. If you were super eager to get started and already began customizing it, you’re out of luck. You’ll need to follow Apple’s guide or chart your own path in order to move over the content. 

The first few steps are the same as starting up any iPhone or iPad. You’ll select a language, cellular or wireless network, then choose what apps and data to transfer. Once you land on the screen to transfer content, choose Move Data from Android and fire up the Move to iOS app on your Android device. Then, you’ll be prompted to enter a nine-digit code in your iPhone.

move from android

Enter the secret code and your content will flow over from your Android device.

Depending on your Android device you may see, as I did, some type of message alerting you about the potential dangers of connecting to a third-party device. You can safely ignore that and proceed.

Pay attention to photos

The app will then ask if you want to move your camera roll, Google account data, and bookmarks from Chrome. It will then transfer these to the requisite Apple apps.

It actually brings a little more than what you’re promised. Because Apple moves your Google account, you’re set to go to use Apple’s Mail, Calendar, and Contacts as the home for that content. You may, however, have to enter your password again. If you’re using Google’s two-step authentication you’ll need to create a one-time password for each of these apps.  

android transfer

With photos, you’ll need to browse through your new camera roll to see if everything came over. That’s because Google Photos, Carousel from Dropbox, or other cloud-enabled photo apps will sometimes delete pictures from your device in order to save space. If you’ve relied on one of those apps on your Android phone, it’s probably best to install and keep using that. Otherwise you’ll need to download all the pictures out of that service to your Mac and then move them manually to Apple’s Photos

Once this step is over, you’re ready to start using your iPhone. Apple even includes a friendly offer to recycle your Android device for you. Pro tip: you’re better off selling it to a third party or using a service like Gazelle to recover some cash. There’s a big market for used smartphones, so there’s no reason to just hand it over to Apple.

Is this the best way to switch to iPhone? 

If you’re new to the iPhone, it’s a pretty solid way to move your content over and get up and running quickly. However, it’s worth noting there are plenty of other alternatives through the App Store that support your favorite service. For example, you can always install Google’s apps if you want to keep using the company’s cloud, especially the rather excellent Google Photos, Google search app, and Inbox.

Microsoft is also all-in with iOS, so you can explore using Outlook or the OneDrive app if that’s the digital home where you reside. Yes, iOS is often called a “walled garden.” But walled gardens tend to be pretty nice places, and all major cloud providers have set up shop to serve you with their own applications. 

Apps still tend to launch first in the App Store, and even Google and Microsoft often roll out their services at the same time as their own platforms. So you have plenty of what that a lot of Apple critics claim the company doesn’t offer: choice.

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