So you’ve decided to switch to Android. We can’t say we blame you—as you’ll soon see, the grass over here is as green as our bots—but we know that starting from scratch can be a scary experience. There’s all sorts of information on your old iPhone that you’re going to want to transfer to your new one, and let’s face it, Apple isn’t exactly going out of its way to help. But we are!
Whatever your reason for getting your head out of the iClouds, we’re here to support you through this difficult break-up. And before you can say “no headphone jack” we’ll have your new phone up, running, and packed with all the stuff you were afraid you’d have to leave behind.
Switching from another Android phone instead? Check out our detailed guide!
Before your new phone even arrives, there are things you can do to prepare. Just as your iTunes and iCloud accounts are the keys to keeping of your iOS devices humming in unison, a Google account is necessary on your new Android phone. You probably already have a Gmail account, but if you don’t, go get one. While you’re at it, you should enable 2-step verification. Your Google account will hold all your personal information, including contacts, calendars, and Chrome passwords, so the more protection you can add to it the better off you’ll be.
And we’re sorry to say but you’re going to need to turn off iMessage. If your contacts send you an iMessage instead of an SMS text, and you don’t have an iPhone to receive it, it will get lost in the ether. So you’re going to want to tell Apple to stop trying to send them. (You can find the toggle inside the Messages tab in the Settings app on your iPhone.) And besides, you don’t want people to think you’re ignoring them when their lonely message is really just sitting unread on Apple’s servers.
And finally, it’ll also be helpful to sign up for a Dropbox account, if you don’t already have one. There are a number of cross-platform apps that use Dropbox rather than Google Drive as their syncing engine, and one of your old apps will likely need it to transfer your data.
Use your Google Drive
While your iCloud Drive will pretty much be useless the minute you turn off your iPhone, Google Drive can actually help with the transition process. Not only will it be useful in storing and transferring documents, but while we were preparing this guide, Google unveiled a simple backup system right inside its Google Drive iOS app. It won’t bring over everything (and we still recommend following the steps in this guide to ensure a seamless transfer), but if you’re happy with just grabbing contacts, calendar entries, and photos, it’s worth a try.
To get started, download the Google Drive app on your iOS device and head into the Settings (inside the hamburger menu button). Select Backups and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can choose whether you want to save your contacts, calendar events or photos. Tap Start Backup and it’ll begin running, though you’ll need to keep your phone on and the app open, so it’s best to do it overnight with your phone plugged in.
The Google Drive method works well, but it’s an all-or-nothing situation, so if you don’t want every single calendar entry and contact coming over to your new phone, you’ll need to trim them down in their respective apps first. And as we describe below, you’ll still want to change the defaults on your old iPhone to keep everything up to date. But it will get some of the data onto your new phone quickly so you can start using it.
If your new phone happens to be a Pixel or Pixel XL, moving in is easier than it is with any other phone. That’s because of Google’s included Quick Switch Adapter, a simple, speedy method for pulling your data over to your new phone.
During the setup of your Pixel, you’ll be given an option to copy your data from your iPhone. Dig through your Pixel box to find the tiny USB-C adapter, attach your Lightening cable to it, and plug the appropriate ends into each phone. Then, after you log into your Google account, the Pixel will search your iPhone for any contacts, calendar events, photos, videos, non-DRM-protected music, texts, and even iMessages, and bring them all safely over to their new home. (One thing though: If you use an iTunes backup instead of iCloud, Google recommends that it is an unencrypted one. To check, open iTunes on your computer, plug in your iPhone, go to the Summary tab, and make sure the Encrypt iTunes Backup option is unchecked. If it was turned on, you’ll need to run it again.)
It’s all pretty magical, and the process is much easier than Apple’s Move to iOS app. And it’ll save you a whole lot of time by skipping most of the steps you’ll need to take with just about every other phone.
When you open your calendar app for the first time on your Android device and sign into your new Google account, it’s probably going to be empty. But moving all your appointments from your Apple calendar to your Google one is easier than you think.
If you have a Mac, the first thing you’ll need to do is open the Calendar app on your computer. Select the calendar you want to export, head to the File menu, and click Export to create an ICS file. (Repeat if you have more than one calendar to copy over.) If you’re using a PC, however, you’ll need to jump through a few small hoops. First, log in to iCloud.com and open the calendar app. Select the calendar you want to share and click the broadcast icon to the right. In the accompanying dialogue box, select Public Calendar and copy the address that appears. (The address will be too long to view, so you’ll need to click the email link button to copy the whole thing.) Paste the entire link into a new tab, change “webcal” at the front to “http”, and press enter. That will download the ICS file you need. Finally, go back to your iCloud Calendar and uncheck Public Calendar, then repeat the process for any other calendars to want to copy over.
Then log in to your Google calendar on the web and import the file you downloaded by clicking on the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen. Go down to Settings, click Calendars and find the Import calendar button. Then all you need to do is find the file you exported and your iPhone’s dates will show up on your Android phone. Just don’t forget that you’ll need to do this for each of the calendars you’ve exported (Home, Work, Birthdays, etc.).
When all that’s done, the last thing you need to do is change the default calendar account on your Apple devices (including your old iPhone) from iCloud to Google. On iOS, you can switch it in the Calendars tab inside the Settings app, while on OS X you’ll find it inside the app’s preferences. From there, you can simply log in to your Google account and your events will forever remain perfectly in sync.
Now that you’ve got your appointments in order, you’re going to need some people to communicate with. And since you’re already an expert in importing calendar files, you’ll just need to do the same with your contacts.
Once again, you’re going to start with your computer, but things are a little different. On your Mac, jump into the Contacts app, and do a select-all so you make sure to grab all the names in your address book (or go through and select the ones you want). Then navigate over to File > Export, and select Export vCard. Check to make sure the file says something like “Amy Andrews and 200 others,” choose where you want it to go, and hit the save button.
It’s just as easy on your PC. Go back to iCloud.com and this time select the Contacts app. Select all of your contacts, click the gear icon at the bottom left of the screen, and find the Export Vcard option.
Then go back to your Google account on the web, but this time you’re going to open Contacts (it’s in the second batch of icons). Click on the More option under your account icon on the left, scroll down to the Import button, and select CSV or vCard file. However, since Google is currently in the process of redesigning Contacts, you can’t actually complete the import here. Instead, it will prompt you to go back to the old app where you can click on the Import Contacts button at the bottom of the left-hand column. Once the box opens, choose the vCard file, and your Google address book will instantly populate with all of the names from your iOS one.
Of course, if you’re already using a GMail account as your main email address, you can skip right to the next section. When you sign in to your new Android phone with your Google account, all your mail will be there. But setting up your iCloud account isn’t too much more difficult. And even though you won’t see an option for iCloud when you go to add a new account, you can still use the GMail app to manage your Apple mail.
To get started, open the Gmail app on your new phone, go to Settings (at the bottom of the sidebar), and tap Add account. On the Set up email screen, select Other, and follow the prompts to enter your iCloud email address and password. (If you have 2-step or 2-factor authentication enabled for your iCloud account, you’ll need to create an app-specific password first on your Apple ID account page.)
That should be enough to get your account up and running, but if you’re still getting error messages, you might need to tweak the server settings. You can find the incoming IMAP and outgoing SMTP server settings on Apple’s website. And if you don’t want to use the GMail app that came with your phone, you can download any number of great ones from the Play Store, including Alto, Newton, Outlook, and others that you may be familiar with on iOS.
Here’s the only real stumbling block with switching between iOS and Android: Your messages don’t play nice between the two operating systems. Even if you’re moving between Android phones the system is less than ideal, mostly relying on third-party solutions that may or may not work.
As we already discussed, Google offers an excellent solution baked into the Pixel, and Samsung offers something similar with its Smart Switch app, but otherwise there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to bring your messages over. The most popular tool is iSMS2droid, but it relies on making an unencrypted iTunes backup, digging into your drive to find the SMS database file, and renaming it and converting it. Not exactly the easiest of solutions.
So, unless you use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or some other over-the-top service, your iMessages will likely be forever locked on your old iPhone. But a clean slate might be for the best anyway since you’re going to be a green bubble from here on out. Because you’ve already turned off iMessage, right?