Q. How hard is it to switch smartphone systems from Android to the new iPhone that is coming out this fall? Do I have to buy all new apps? And if I ever want to change back to Android, how much of a hassle is it?
A. Switching between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android system — the top two platforms used by mobile devices — is easier than it used to be because each company has created illustrated guides for jumping ship to the other’s software. As for your apps, though, programs written specifically for iOS will not run in Android — and vice versa.
Apps for popular services like Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail and others are available for both platforms, and you can download new versions from the respective app stores. However, some apps may only be available for one system, so take an inventory of every program you use on your phone and check for alternatives that work on the other platform. Media files with copyright restrictions built in may not play across platforms, although those from services that have apps for both platforms (like Amazon Music or Google Music Manager) may play fine after you log in.
To see what is involved with moving from an Android device to an iPhone, check out Apple’s guide for switching. As part of the relocation process, you need a Wi-Fi connection and a copy of Apple’s own Move to iOS app on your Android device. Although it does not have uniformly great reviews from users in the Google Play store, the Move to iOS app promises to automatically transfer your contacts, calendars, photos and videos, text-message history, mail accounts and web bookmarks over to an iPhone, while also providing a list of corresponding iOS versions of installed Android apps you can download from the App Store.
The steps needed to move from an iPhone to an Android device can vary, as many manufacturers offer Android phones and the software may be different from maker to maker. Google’s site has its own three-step guide to leaving iOS for Android, with the first step as backing up your iPhone’s data to an online Google Drive account. As part of the process, you also import your phone’s address book and calendar events to Google’s apps. For those leaving Apple’s iOS platform, it is also important to turn off and “deregister” your phone number from the company’s iMessage service so your text messages will arrive properly on your Android device.