Introducing Google’s New “Switch to Android” App for iPhone

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: The Google Switch to Android app now supports all Android 12 devices, not just Pixel.

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 has 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 dedicated “Move to iOS” application for Android that tries to make integration into 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 only 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 final 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 delivered to Tech Crunch, 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.

Update 4/28: From a new tweet, Google is now actively promoting its Switch to Android app to potential Pixel customers, as well as through a new landing page on Android’s website. By all indications, it should now be quite possible to copy loads of data from your old iPhone to a new Android phone, either wirelessly or with a cable. Specifically, you can copy the following:

  • contacts
  • Photos stored locally
  • SMS/MMS/iMessage message and media history
  • Whatsapp message and media history
  • Free apps also available on play store
  • custom wallpaper
  • DRM-free music
  • Call logs
  • Alarms
  • Some device settings

Update 6/29: After initially marketing Switch to Android only to potential Pixel buyers, Google now allows the app to migrate data from iPhone to any device running Android 12 or newer. This even includes the affordable Spectrum devices, built with the Android 12GB edition.

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 how long Apple’s “Move to iOS” app has been 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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