How to Make the Switch from iOS to Android

You've been hanging back, waffling back and forth. Android or iPhone? But it's decision time, and you've made the call: it's time to trade in the Cupertino Kool-Aid for some Kit Kats. Here's how to do it right.

Contacts and Calendars

Migrating your contacts and calendar dates from iPhone to Android is as simple as setting up Google Sync. As long as you're running iOS 3.0 or above, and already have an active Google or Gmail account, you can do it directly through your phone:

  • On your iPhone select Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  • Set up a new "Microsoft Exchange" account (yes, even if you're trying to import from Gmail).
  • Input your email address and login info. Enter a domain if you have one for an actual ME server; Gmail users can leave it blank.
  • Select "Server" then either input the ME server address or "m.google.com" for Gmail.
  • On the final screen, select what you want to import—Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and/or Reminders—then hit Accept.

Or you can do it through iTunes if you prefer, though you'll only be able to pull your contacts' vital fields like their names, job titles, email, postal addresses, phone numbers, and IM handle. To do so:

  • Mount your iPhone onto your computer as an external drive using a USB cable and open iTunes
  • Select your iPhone from the list on the left pane and select the "Info" tab
  • Select "Sync Contacts With" and then choose "Google Contacts" from the drop-down
  • Enter your Google log-in info when prompted then hit Apply to sync

Make sure you disable the Sync With Google option when you've finished otherwise the system will dump redundant entries into your contacts list.

All Your Media

For your music, videos, and pictures, you'll need to again mount your iPhone onto you computer as an external drive. If you are using a PC, open Explorer, locate the appropriate files on the phone and copy them to your desktop. Mac users, on the other hand, can just use Image Capture to download these files to the desktop or. Once that's done, connect your Android to your computer and transfer the media files to the appropriate phone folder. For PC users, it's plug-and-play. For OSX users, if your new Android runs ICS or above, download Android File Transfer Utility do your Mac, and then drag-and-drop. Images and video go to DCIM, music goes to, well, Music.

You may notice that your Android can't sync with iTunes, so you'll need an alternative service to load new media onto the device. Google Music is a solid option, allowing you to store up to 20,000 uploaded tracks for free (and loads your collection directly from iTunes), as well as Amazon Cloud Player, which offers 5GB of space for uploaded tracks at no charge. Or use Spotify.

When transferring SMS messages off the iPhone, My SMS is quite handy. This free app syncs text messages among your various devices—phones, tablets, laptops, and whathaveyou—and is compatible with both Mac and Windows. Simply download the app on both phones, follow the setup instructions and MySMS does the rest.

Extracting voice mail messages from your iPhone, on the other hand, can be a bit of a pain though it depends on how much money you are willing to spend. The least costly option (albeit most labor intensive) involves simply forwarding messages individually to your Google account. To do so, select the appropriate conversation in "Messages", click Edit and then Forward.

Now if you'd prefer to skip the drudgery of sending yourself old voicemail messages individually, programs like PhoneView (Mac - $30) and iExplorer (Mac and PC - $35) can be quite helpful. These programs pull data from your iTunes backup logs giving you access to virtually every file you've synced. You'll be able to copy not just voicemail to the desktop, but also your call history, contacts, bookmarks, notes, and media files as well.

Apps

Used to be, many popular apps like Instagram, Fruit Ninja, and Flipboard were iOS exclusives, leaving Android owners to either do without or settle for cheap imitations. However, with Android's recent meteoric rise in popularity developers can no longer afford to ignore it like a red-headed step-child and now regularly offer their wares for both systems. Games are an exception to this trend, unfortunately. Many developers have proven reluctant to port their games to Android and its menagerie of supported hardware, which is why you'll be hard-pressed to find iOS stalwarts like Plants vs Zombies, Chrono Trigger, or Infinity Blade on Google Play.

What you get instead are a bevy of features that don't exist in Apple's sandbox—widgets, for example. These home screen-based apps provide instant access to a variety of services; from Accuweather Forecasts to Rdio Playlists and native Android utilities like Gmail, Calendar, and Voice Search (which is like Siri but, you know, competent). And if you had the pleasure of using iOS 6 before jumping off the Apple wagon, Google Maps will be a welcome return. As will be the near infinite customizability of the OS. If you don't like your native app launcher, or background, or ringtone suite, or virtually any other aspect of how your phone functions or looks, there are thousands of options (most free) are available on Google Play to replace them. [Google 1, 2 - Tricky Ways - CNet - MSNBC - Ars Technica]