We really don't need a 'Switch to Android' tool from Apple

Anytime Apple does something that isn't an immediate and obvious product to draw users deeper into the Apple hardware ecosystem, people get excited. Apple does some great stuff, but the Apple experience only really works when you go all in and set yourself up with Apple everything. This is one of several reasons recent headlines about some kind of external pressure leading to a tool from Apple allowing for easy migration to Android really shouldn't have ever been taken seriously, but there's something way more important to keep in mind when thinking about this whole scenario.

New Android users don't need a "Switch to Android" tool from Apple — unless you count that fix for iMessage breaking things horribly — because those tools have existed for years already. And they're already really well done.

The truth is iPhone users have been switching to Android for years. The only reason any of this is getting any attention right now is because Apple made a "Switch to iPhone" app and put it in the Google Play Store (opens in new tab). We'll step right over the fact that Apple would never in a million years allow any Android manufacturer to do the same in the App Store, but a few months after the app was published we saw headlines claiming Android users were switching to the iPhone in droves. It turned out that information was not only inaccurate, but that more iPhone users were switching to Android in the same timeframe. There has been no mass exodus on either side, though. It's just the regular, predictable churn of users trying something new.

Besides, where else would they go?

iPhone with Google

So we already have lots of iPhone users trying something new, and Android is almost always the flavor they switch to. These users aren't leaving their iOS data behind, and they aren't screaming from the rooftops about how difficult it is to switch from one platform to another, and that has everything to do with the utilities that are already in place.

  • Google products sync effortlessly — If you're already using any of the 20-plus Google apps on your iPhone, you'll find that as soon as you log in on your Android phone that data already is at your fingertips. This includes contacts, email, photos, and documents, depending on the apps you use. It's all already there, no need for a clumsy sync tool to do transfer things for you.
  • Creating a Google account is easy — Google's services aren't hardware-dependent; they mostly work everywhere. Even if you've never used Google for anything other than search, creating an account and choosing what information you want to pull from your iPhone couldn't be easier, and works really well for users who don't want to haul every single thing from one system to another.
  • Almost every manufacturer has a migration tool — As part of the setup process for just about every Android phone, there's a section for importing contacts and photos from another phone. These tools are built for transferring from just about any phone, and while they vary slightly in functionality the process for each is simple enough that you aren't usually spending more than a few minutes to complete a migration. The best by far is Samsung's Smart Switch (opens in new tab), which among other features includes a hardware-based transfer system that will allow for the fastest migration.

As you can see, the tools already exist. It has never been easier to switch from an iPhone to an Android phone, and it's clear from the number of users that switch back and forth every year that there's really not much to separate the basic functions of these two operating systems anymore. In the end, people are going to use what works best for them, and every once in a while giving something new a try is bound to happen. That doesn't mean it's the end of either platform, and it certainly doesn't mean Apple is going to start doing anything that doesn't immediately result in more people moving to their hardware ecosystem.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

181 Comments
  • Yeah, we've had pretty much every iPhone since the 3G, and moving things over was not an issue. My wife, it turns out, had a vast library of voice memos on her iPhone when she switched months after I. These did not transfer, so I had to convert them to Mp3's, but that was the only sticking point. I'm not really concerned about having to switch her back, as she's very vocal about how much she loves being set free. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well the app is terrible anyway. It doesn't work unless the iPhone is completely factory reset. So if you get a new iphonr and happen to skip over that one screen that says "Transfer from android" you have to factory reset the phone to go back to that screen. Apple always designs stuff in software in the most difficult manner. Has anyone ever tried to create an iTunes account through an iPhone? It will take you at least 30 minutes. Posted via the Android Central App
  • um android migration tools are also in the set up area. it would be the logical place for it. Yes gmail accts bring over many thing IF you use gmail. But even if you go from a moto x to a nexus, you don't migrate all your texts messages AFTER the phone is 100% set up. You bring that over as you are setting up the new device. using that phones migration assist.
    if it takes 30 min to set up an apple ID on an iPhone, you need to go back to a flip phone.
    Setting up an apple ID takes 5 minutes MAX unless you can only type 2 words per minute. An apple ID take no more time than making a new gmail account.
    The Android to iOS app works great. The 1 star reviews come from Tools that just downloaded it so they could 1 star the review and then delete it.
  • Yes they are in the set up but the difference is they are ALSO in the regular app screen. Meaning that if you don't have the time to sit there and wait for the phone to set up, you can transfer information later without having to face tory reset everything you've just done. Secondly, the process setting up an account through Google is much easier. You pick an email and a password and you're done. With Apple, you create the iTunes name, then you verify settings, then you are required to input a credit card afterwhich it takes you to the app store, which is great! But wait! Now when you download an app it tells you to wait again while they send an email to verify the account. After you've logged in AGAIN when verifying the account, THEN you can go back to the app store and start downloading your applications. It is a mess and takes too long. Trust me, I do this every working day of my life. The process on android takes seconds to complete. It takes many minutes to do on Apple and then explain to people why they need a credit card input on their device, and wait for them to remember their active email password, etc. Posted via the Android Central App
  • you do not have to put in CC info, there is a NONE option. after you make the apple ID, you simply click a link to verify and DONE. 5 minutes, literally. I work at apple. Trust me. 5 min max.
  • With Google takes seconds.
  • I don't know. Sometimes I think about switching to iPhone because Apple supports its older devices. I like how even the iPhone 4S got iOS 9. My S6 active finally got 5.1.1 and 5.1.1 first debuted 10 months ago! Would I have to wait another 10 months to get Marshmallow? Would I even get it? That's my annoyance with Android at the moment.
  • Apple can support its devices that long because they have a very locked-down closed-source ecosystem along with a small-ish line of devices with hardware they are familiar with. As such, it's simpler for them to optimize the OS for these devices. Compare that to how many different number of Android devices out there in the wild. It's both a blessing and a curse, and really, I don't mind. Like I mentioned below, I use Android as my phone OS and iOS as my tablet OS.
  • You need to understand that older iPhone's get only version update and some features. Not all features are imported to older devices from new version. There is fragmentation and the hardware & MARKETING defines limitation Posted via the Android Central App
  • While you are correct in your statement, what you say is somewhat misleading. All supported iOS devices get the security benefits of the latest OS version, whereas on Android no one can say that. Also, no, all Apple users do not get features that the hardware doesn't support, but they do get EVERYTHING ELSE.
  • Android gets all the security patches through google play services, ignorance is a bliss Posted via the Android Central App
  • That simply is not true. Unless you are on Marshmallow, go to the play store and download a Stagefright diagnostic tool. Run it. Yeah, Google Play Services isn't patching that. Google Play Services takes care of a lot of stuff to make apps compatible despite the Android version,but it isn't a miracle patching system for OS level bugs.
  • They do get the lag Posted via the Android Central App
  • Apple updates more devices than any other manufacturer right now.
    Just count how many updates to marshmallow will arrive for each manufacturer then count apple devices in latest version.
  • That's because Apple only has Apple devices. Android is an OS on many manufacturers phones.
  • You missed the point. Apple only have apple devices, and samsung only have samsung devices. Why can't they be updated the same way?
    Even nexus 4 was left behind, the next one is nexus 5 and iphone 4s will probably receive the next ios.
  • Because Apple has the software and hardware that they control. They have made 10 phones total, 12 if you count the plus variants. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Because samsung doesn't own android. Nexus has it's limitation too. Apple old device gets updated along with the extra lag
    Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm the same way. I don't use the tablet as much so I don't get as frustrated.
  • If you expect every feature of iOS 9 to work on older devices, you're sadly mistaken. Simply because they get support doesn't mean the upgrades work well.
  • It's obviously hardware dependent, but the same goes for older devices being upgraded to newer versions of Android. There's nothing wrong with that. Although Siri not being added to the iPhone 4 was kind of a dick move, if I recall correctly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I respectfully disagree that "there's nothing wrong with that." The problem is, people say: "My iPhone 3Gs got iOS 9 so Apple is better than Android!" Well, that's deceitful to say that. They may get the update on older iPhones, but the updates are a shell of the real deal. I guess it's still cool that they update them, but I don't like when people aren't straightforward about it. I suppose it ultimately comes down to what the people really want. Do they want to feel cool by saying they get the newest update, even though their phone can't do anything from the new update? If so, by all means have at it. I personally don't count the update as a true update unless I get at least most of the features.
  • They get the security benefits of the new OS, and they get most features of the new OS, they do not get what their hardware won't support. That is not a "Shell of the real deal." What else do you think that they should get? On Android I only will use Nexus devices because I grew sick long ago of not getting software updates in a timely matter or oftentimes not getting them at all. In iOS, Stagefright would have been fixed pretty quickly, in Android land most devices will never be fixed.
  • Ignorance is a bliss Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's not the point. The point is that the security that comes with the new version iOS gets updated. I'm annoyed that I have to wait several months to get any security updates on my device, especially since I use Samsung Pay and I have sensitive data on my phone.
  • You have security updates many times a day, they don't require any input by the user. This is handled through Google services. Android is very secure Posted via the Android Central App
  • Really? Oh. Well then. There we are.
  • Stagefright still isn't fixed.
  • http://www.techtimes.com/articles/91962/20151007/google-releases-securit...
  • Insecurity... Insecurity everywhere. And it came along with ignorance Posted via the Android Central App
  • play services doesn't update security. that's why Nexus devices has monthly security updates which are OTA
  • Then you need to join google's nexus platform
  • Plus with old model, they pushed it too much it became a burden, they add extra lag along with the updates Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm sure there would be a lot of annoyances on iOS as well. but man iOS on iPhone 6/6s/ feels so silky smooth.. in my whole life I just used iOS iPhone 6s for one month its speed was on next level. but it got the worst dialer ;) and notification center is not that great.. also lacks quick charging.. other than that it was hell of a device.. Nexus 6P is my favorite Android phone at the moment but using LG V10.. Both have QHD display but LG V10 display seems more clear detailed like have more pixels(which it does have) but pictures videos looks really great on Nexus 6p but web and text looks great on V10.. V10 is fast but not smooth else I really loved V10 second screen.
  • Yeah. I was playing around with the 6S Plus and iOS 9 was just smooth. But damn, that $849 price tag for the 64GB version is such a turn-off.
  • Yes correct that is very expensive but best part is iPhone are like cash deposit.. you buy it and sell for next to no loss.. beside its only phone whose price whole year stays same.. and next year only $100 decreases.. Samsung, HTC, LG phones after a year you can get in half the price and if you own one you guess right how much you get in return.. people like me who buy and sell more often for them its good thing.. I guess I want to say iPhone have the best resale value too ;)
  • It has better resell but its like 30-35% compared to 45-50% Posted via the Android Central App
  • Here's the thing, should I buy a used iPhone 6 plus for 599 or 699, when I can get a brand spanking new nexus 6P for 499? With carriers removing phone subsidy programs, the price of the phone and bang for the buck become way more prominent. You actually have to pay the full price for your iPhones now. And, truth be told, the Nexus 6p is compatible with the iPhone 6s plus while it blows away the iPhone 6 plus which can be had for at least 100 more, used. Let me think "which phone should I get? " Those iPhone resell prices are about to take a nosedive as well because the competition for something later and greater in the form of Android can now be had. Posted via the Android Central App
  • People who are thinking about buying a new iPhone, though, don't even know that the Nexus 6P even exists.
  • But why people should buy Nexus 6P if they buying iPhone? iPhone is for old iPhone owners and Nexus 6p is for android users. I've Macbook Air and Nexus 6P, but if I had iPhone I could take advantage of many iPhone features which Nexus 6p won't give me.. and those features are really awesome, I had iPhone for a month and I miss those features.. beside Nexus 6p is very big not for most of iPhone users. they accustom to small sizes. I think Android is not for everyone same is iOS. and I don't see if any OS is clear winner both are great.
  • Then go back to the iPhone!
  • I'm that kind of person who don't use just one or two or three mobile whole year. I use all flagships phone through out the year. but in turns of course. at the moment using V10, Tomorrow my Moto X pure will be on my door(Imported from USA) and after 22 my Aunt coming from USA with Nexus 6P.. but I've used Iphone 6s for a month but iPHone 6s plus left ;) .. Once I was very conservative and was die hard HTC fan, Hated Samsung, LG iPhone.. Now I admire every OEM. like iPhone have bad dialer and slow charging and yea notification center is awkward,
  • What crap! You're telling me that I can sell my $850 iPhone in a years and get $750 for it?? Seriously??
  • if not $750 you can get $700 if you sell before Next iPhone come to market. but when next come you still expect $600 for most part of year.. but if its galaxy phone its value will be almost half like I can get Galaxy S6 for $350 but iPhone 6 stil costs me $500 for used phone.. recently sold iPhone 6 of my uncle for $480 it was 16GB variant
  • Mint iPhone 6 Plus 64GB is only selling for $475-$575 right now on Swappa.
  • Wouldn't take an iPhone without 3D touch ;) cuz my first iPhone ever was iPhone 6s. BTW its also depends on which part of world you live I guess then
  • All new phones are smooth, the other reason iPhone feels smoother is because it does not do much, also ios is not fragmented like Android is, ios runs only one one device the iPhone, have you ever tried a Nexus device, it's just as smooth if not smoother than an iPhone. At the end of the day, they all do the same thing, except Apple iPhone users have no choices, and are stuck with what Apple feeds them. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Apple uses a number of slick animations that make iOS feel really smooth.
  • So does stock Android and till lolipop they had bad animations it just got better with marshmallow which makes nexus and other devices like Moto X feel faster. Only thing I don't like in term of UI is scrolling. That's terrible slow to scroll on web pages but rest of iOS feels fasters smoother and quicker.
  • Naah...iOS on the iphone 6S definately doesnt feel any faster than my Nexus 6 on marshmallow. Id say my N6 is faster overall. I have an iphone 6S in my house that i play with occasionally. Actually because of the faster animations that android developers generally use i think stock android on high-end hardware definately feels faster than iOS on apples latest and greatest
  • I have nexus 6P and speed on nexus 6P is on next level everything is fast and smooth. No stutter. For me speed standard is nexus 6P I assume nexus 6 will be also same
  • It pretty much is. But from my experience the way to maximize performance on the N6 you need to decrypt it by flashing a custom boot image
  • My Android isn't fragmented. We're talking about a single phone
  • The price seems steep for sure, but if you want a phone that's reliable and updated for the next 3-5 years the price is actually a good value. Don't forget the decent resale value of an iPhone either.
  • They restrict a LOT of features for the older devices. And after about 2 major updates, lag starts to appear.
    I'd prefer not getting updates. That way you have all the features possible without having major lag.
    Of course, every man to his own... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Totally agree. You almost don't want to upgrade iOS after one major update. I swear they make you want to get a new phone because your old phone that used to be fast is now slow because the OS slowed it down. I leave some of my older iOS devices on older iOS (mainly tablets). Most phones don't last much more than a couple years anyways, but my iPad 1.0 is still going strong and holds a great charge.
  • You really don't want iOS 9 on a 4. Or a 4s, 5, or 5c anyway. I own an iPhone 6, but also have three 5c's on contract, and an iPhone 5c running iOS 9 is frustratingly slow. Turn on low power mode and it's pretty much unusable. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nexus devices... Posted via the Android Central App
  • THIS! If you want every update, get a Nexus! I switched to a Nexus 5X from a Lumia 822 because Microsoft will not release Windows 10 Mobile for older devices.
  • They supports their devices, but after 2 years, they are EXTREMELY laggy I have 2 ios devices, and I will not update them after 2 ". 0" updates, which is about what android flagship get anyway. I don't consider apples updates a selling point. And there's even a case of 4s owners suing apple because after the ios 9 update their devices are basically unusable do to lag and slowdowns. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, I read that. Something about how Apple is subtly (or not-so-subtly) letting 4S owners know that they should upgrade their device.
  • Also, your s6 active marshmallow update will probably take a very very very long time because it's an AT&T exclusive and they have a repulsion for not updating phones very well Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's what I hate about Android updates. They go through the carrier instead of coming straight from Google. iOS doesn't do that. All the updates comes straight from Apple. Why is there such a difference between the two? Why do my updates come from the carrier and not straight from Samsung?
  • Apple have significantly more influence over the carriers than any android manufacturer. Regardless, there's a fairly simple solution that involves not buying your phone from a carrier and bypassing their Bullshit. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Touche. The only thing that sucks about buying unlocked phones is that you have to pay full retail price for it upfront. But that may be worth it.
  • It can be a problem, especially if you're interested in something exorbitant like the priv or note 5, but I think a decent number of places offer financing options now. Posted via the Android Central App
  • On unlocked devices, the updates come straight from the device manufacturer. Which is why I always use them. I never ever use carrier-branded devices.
  • There is no reason to wait for the carrier to update your Nexus device. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That annoyance of waiting on Android updates is legitimate. That's exactly the reason why I use nexus devices. I was Damn tired of having to purchase the next new device from HTC to get the latest software. My nexus 6 received marshmallow before the nexus 6p was even released. That's the way it should be and at the very least, all devices should get the latest software at the same time as the release of the latest hardware. Switch to a nexus device and you will get timely updates and Google typically supports the older devices beyond two years. I'd never know because I love having the latest and greatest in hardware and software. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I like the idea of the Nexus device, but I work outside for 10 hours a day and I really need a phone to be waterproof or the phone to have the ability to use a LifeProof case. Unfortunately, there is no LifeProof case available for the Nexus devices.
  • Nexus 6 is waterproof and very cheap right now.
  • It's also a 1.5 year old phone model.
  • And it's still lighting fast, and runs the latest OS software, how has the powerful Snapdragon 805 all of a sudden become slow, I scratch my head sometimes with some of these comments in here. The Nexus 6 is a beast of a phone, it's waterproof, has fantastic front firing speakers, runs the latest software and will be just fine for years to come. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If I were buying a phone today, why would I buy something that's that old? I don't care if the 64GB version is only $299. I could spend $200 more and get a much better phone.
  • Sounds like you should be annoyed at your choice of phone, if updates are important to you then the only phones for you are Nexus phones (and thats one of my main reason for buying them). Or you can update your phones yourself...
  • That's android. Samsung only guarantees ONE update within 18 months. After that, you may or may not get more.
    Samsung only has Samsung phones to update. No excuse other than laziness to not get updates for 3+ years like Apple does.
  • I know someone with an iPhone 4s and iOS 9. The battery lasts about 6 hours on standby and webpages take for ever to load. Oh and she can't take a call and check her email. The screen is cracked and the whole phone is pretty scratched up. She loves the thing, but I'm not sure the market has matured enough to worry about update support. I'd give it til 2020 when battery tech and OS polishing catch up with demand. Sony is really good on updates. I have a Z3 compact and running lollipop 5.1 with marshmallow on the way. One more thing to consider, buggy updates. I have marshmallow on my shield tablet and it is not only got some bugs but a few apps won't work with it. It's nice to get an update about 9-12 months out just so the bugs are more likely to be worked out. Posted via the Android Central App on the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
  • that's true.
    on the other hand when you update an old iPhone to the latest version of iOS you risk making the phone completely unusable.
    It happened when i updated my 3GS to iOS 4 and it happened when i updated my gf's iPhone 4 to iOS 7. Honestly, the phones became to slow that using them was painful (and it comes from someone who bought and loved the 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4s before switching to android).
  • That's because those depend on the manufacturer. I only use Google Nexus devices for that same reason. As for Apple, we'll, they are pretty good devices for basic users, except for the tedious and long account creation part. But once you do that, it's off to basic as hell heaven (pun intended). Now, for power users, undercover geeks and such, like me, I don't think I could ever live with such a closed platform as Apple's. I like to be able to say that, out of all the Nexus 6ps in the world, mine is truly unique, because it fully customized to my own personal taste and to how I use my phone, not how some nerd out in Google thinks is the right way to use it.
  • What do you mean where else would they go? Windows is a totally viable option Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Mmm...not so sure about that. You tube was alone enough to keep me off the os Posted via a nexus
  • Tubex on win phone is as good as android youtube, if not better Posted via the Android Central App
  • There are three or four third party YouTube apps that are as good as, if not better than, the official YouTube app Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just don't expect any updates!!
  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
  • Laugh all you want, but in my experience, Windows is a much better platform than android is