Google is preparing to launch a whole new way to switch from Apple iPhones to an Android device. Here’s your first look at Google’s “Switch to Android” app running on an iPhone.
Update: Google said it was starting to make the switch to Android available to the public.
When switching from one Android device to a new one, it’s easy to simply connect the two phones together – wirelessly or with a USB cable – to seamlessly copy all your apps, contacts, messages, photos, and more. On the other hand, copying your data from iPhone to Android was not as easy as a process, involving backing up your data to Google Drive and restoring it manually. Android 12 made things a little easier, letting you copy contacts, apps, and media, but only over a Lightning cable connection.
Conversely, for more than five years, Apple has offered a “Switch to iOS” app for Android that attempts to make joining Apple’s ecosystem as easy as possible. In July 2021, we reported that Google was working on its own app to help new customers make their next phone an Android.
The move to Android has now been soft-launched in the App Store as an unlisted app – a feature that Apple recently launched – accessible only via a direct link that our APK Insight team was able to discover.
With this link, we were able to successfully install Switch to Android on an iPhone and run it. However, while everything seems to be ready on the iOS side, the Android setup and restore process is not yet ready for the availability of the Switch to Android app.
On the first screen, the app explains exactly what it will be able to copy from your iPhone to your new Android phone, including “photos, videos, contacts, etc.”
The next step asks you to scan a QR code which should be displayed on your Android phone during the installation and restore process. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to that setup flow, but the bottom line is that your new Android phone would generate a hotspot that your iPhone would connect to. Once connected, the majority of your important data would be transferred wirelessly.
We can see a glimpse of how this step works thanks to the screenshots included in the App Store listing. In them we see toggles for “Contacts”, “Calendar Events”, “Photos” and “Videos”. Below these toggles is a disclaimer that only photos and videos saved locally on your iPhone will be copied to your new Android, and media from your iCloud will be processed later.
Once the copy is complete, you are reminded to turn off iMessage, to ensure that messages from your friends who still have iPhones are indeed delivered via SMS, rather than disappearing into the iMessage void. The last step in the process of switching to Android is to request a transfer of your iCloud data to Google Drive / Google Photos. The “Start Request” button simply launches Safari to an iCloud support page where you can “Request to transfer a copy of your data”.
Update 4/19: In a statement given to TechCrunch, Google said it has started making Switch to Android available to iPhone owners, gradually making the app publicly available on the App Store. In the meantime, the app is available to anyone interested via a direct link.
Around 6:00 p.m. PT on Monday evening, the Switch to Android app began rolling out to the public, Google tells us. The company says it expects this process to reach 10% of users by the end of the day on Tuesday, April 19 and 100% of users within the next two weeks.
Of course, switching to Android doesn’t work on its own, requiring some changes to the Android setup process, which are likely rolling out as well.
Overall, Switch to Android is a delightfully simple experience, making it as easy as possible to leave the walled garden of the iPhone ecosystem. It’s unclear at this time when Google intends to launch Switch to Android widely, but given the length of Apple’s “Move to iOS” app on the Play Store, Google’s alternative already arrives years later than it should have.
Dylan Roussel contributed to this article
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