Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

Simon Hill

So you’ve grown tired of the Android wilds and bought your ticket to the land of Apple. In this guide, we’ll help you pack for the trip and serve up a few tips to help the transition go smoothly. Breaking free of Google’s ecosystem and its team of manufacturers will present a few difficulties, sure, but we can find solutions.

Related: New to the iOS ecosystem? Here are 100 of our favorite apps for the iPhone

We’ll run through how to transfer your contacts, move your precious music, videos, photos, and find equivalent services on iOS to replace what you’re leaving behind. We’ll also help you find your feet with some tips, and show you how to get the best out of your newfangled iPhone. Let’s begin!

What you’re leaving behind

As you prepare to abandon Android, it’s worth considering what you can’t take with you. Your phone case is not going to be compatible with your new iPhone, and your dock might not be either, but there’s a good chance that any other Android accessories you bought will be. If they rely on Bluetooth to connect, then they’ll work just fine with the iPhone. Most speaker accessories and docks have iPhone compatibility as standard. Even traditional headphones will work with the latest iPhone, as it comes with a handy Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter.

You obviously can’t take your Android apps with you, but there are lots of great options on iOS, so you’ll be able to replace the vast majority. Wave goodbye to home screen customization, you won’t really find it on iOS. Last, but not least, there’s the question of what to do with your old phone. Your best bet might be to wipe it and sell it, because you’ll need some cash for that new iPhone.

Transferring contacts

Naturally you’ll want to take your contacts with you, and there are various ways you can do that. Start with this guide on how to transfer your contacts between iPhone and Android, and you’ll find it’s easy to handle the process using Gmail and iTunes, in case you need to do that.

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Switching from Google to Apple services

When we covered how to switch from iPhone to Android, we discussed all the Google services that you might consider using in order to replace Apple’s offerings, but going the other way is a lot easier because the Google services you’ve been using on Android are all available on iOS as well. You can find a complete list on this Google page.

Google Maps, Chrome, Google Play Music, Google Drive, and even Google Now (available through the Google Search app), among other things, can all be enjoyed on iOS. They might work a little differently from their Android counterparts, but if you’re heavily invested in using any of them, then their presence on iOS should certainly help you feel at home.

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7

Of course, there are still many Apple alternatives and they’ll be set as the default options on your new iPhone. You’ll want to try out:

  • iTunes: Good for buying and organizing your music, movies, TV shows, apps, audiobooks, and more
  • Safari Web browser: Can sync bookmarks across all your Apple devices
  • iCloud: Can back up your files, contacts, calendars, and photos

There’s also the Maps app for turn-by-turn directions, and a lot of premium optional extras. Creative people will want to try iMovie and GarageBand. Workaholics will love Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. There’s also iBooks for reading, and then there’s the largest collection of free education content available through iTunes U.

Moving photos, videos, and music

Backing up your precious memories is vital. We took a look at how to back up, speed up, and clean up your iPhone or Android device, so you might want to start there.

If you’d like to copy files over a wired connection, then plug your Android phone into your computer using your Micro USB to USB cable. Pull down the Notification shade on your Android phone, and make sure it’s connected. It should connect automatically in Media transfer mode (MTP). You should get a pop-up on your PC, which will give various options including Open device to view files. Alternatively you can go to Start > Computer, and you should find it listed. Navigate to the files you want, and drag and drop them onto your computer. Here’s how to transfer files from an Android phone to a Mac.

To get files from your computer to your iPhone, you can plug your iPhone in and fire up iTunes. Select your device in the left panel in iTunes, click the Apps tab, and then scroll down to find the File Sharing section (if you don’t have a file sharing section, your iPhone has no file sharing apps installed). Choose the app you want to transfer the file to, and then drag and drop the file from your computer into iTunes onto the space on the right.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple iPhone 7 Plus

If you want to transfer all your photos, first make sure that any new photos you have on your iPhone are backed up, then go and select your device in iTunes again, and select the Photos tab up top. Make sure the Sync Photos box is ticked and tap on the drop down menu to choose the Copy files from folder. Now pick the folder of photos you want to transfer. Be warned: You may lose any photos you have on the iPhone when you do this, so back up first.

Going wireless and using the cloud to transfer files can prove a whole lot easier. You could log in and use iCloud, but remember you only get 5GB for free. You can always bolster it with Google Drive, Google Photos, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, or another cloud service.

You can access any movies, music, or books that you bought through Google Play through the browser on your iPhone, or by downloading the right Google iOS app. For example, if you’ve been using Google Play Books on Android, you just download the Google Play Books app for iOS and your collection is instantly accessible. If you’ve been backing up files on Google Drive or uploading photos to Google Photos, then you can do the same thing – snag the iOS apps and you have instant easy access to sync them across.

It’s easy to transfer files using other cloud solutions. Most of the big names, like Dropbox, have Android and iOS apps, so simply download the iOS app, enter your account details, and copy across whatever you need.

It makes sense to import your music into iTunes, and it’s easily done. Make sure you have the Music Manager for Google Play Music installed on your computer, or Google Play Music installed to your Chrome browser, and select Download my library from the Download tab. Choose the folder you want to download to and then fire up iTunes and go to File > Add Folder to Library, choose the same folder, and it will all be copied across. Once you have all your music in iTunes, check out our guide on how to download music to your iPod or iPhone.

Moving your text messages

It’s often a wrench to leave behind your old text messages when you switch to a new phone. Most of them won’t be missed, but sometimes you’ll have a special goodbye or a romantic message that you want to keep. Fortunately, there’s an app that makes this less of an issue, and it comes straight from Apple. Appropriately called Move to iOS, this free app will transfer your Contacts, Message history, photos, videos, Mail accounts, and other data you might want to keep.

Welcome to iOS

At first glance, it’s bound to look strange around these parts, and there are some things you’ll probably miss about Android, but iOS is designed to be intuitive, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble settling in. Let’s see if we can make it as soft a landing as possible.

Finding your way

The first thing you’re going to notice is the lack of a Back or Task switcher button. All you’ve got is the solitary Home button, which always takes you back to your home screen. In general, any back options will show up at the top left of the screen; otherwise tap that Home button to reverse out of an app. You open up recent apps or multitasking by tapping the Home button twice. You can also hold the Home button down to launch Siri. You can ask questions, get directions, set up appointments, and more.You can ask questions, get directions, set up appointments, and more.

For settings, you’ll have to look in individual app menus, or try the Settings app.

You’ll find that the pull-down Notifications bar is familiar to Android, but by default notifications will show up on your lock screen as well. You can always change this in Settings > Notifications. Just remember that if you tap or swipe on the notification it will probably open the relevant app. You have to tap the small cross at the top right to dismiss a notification. Some pop-up notifications do offer interactions now, so you can dismiss a notification or write a quick reply without leaving the app you’re in. You can also add widgets to the Notification center. Swipe down from the top or swipe right to open it, and then tap Edit to see what your choices are.



Your home screen in iOS is basically like your app drawer on Android – it’s just a list of all your apps. You can scroll right to access further home screen pages. You can tap and hold on an app to move or delete the icon. If you want to create a folder then drag it on top of another app icon and drop it.

Setting your iPhone wallpaper is easy. Go into the Settings app, choose Wallpaper, and then select the image you want to use. If you want to make one yourself, the iPhone 7 has a resolution of 1,334 x 750 pixels, but you might want to make it slightly larger (1,592 x 893 pixels) to account for the parallax effect.

For ringtones you can choose whatever you like, or make your own. Check out our how to make ringtones for iPhone guide to get the lowdown on that.


The selection of apps and games on iOS is excellent. All of the big name apps that you were used to on Android will be easy to find in Apple’s App Store. We’ve got a big list of the best iPhone apps and the best iPhone games to get you started.


Software updates

iPhones are the best devices if you like to get operating system updates. You’ll be glad to leave Android and Windows Phone behind in this respect. All updates for those devices have to go through wireless carriers before they’re approved, a process that takes months. With the iPhone, updates are universal and easy to apply. Older models might not support the latest software, so iOS is not entirely free of fragmentation, but it’s certainly much less of an issue. You have the option to do it wirelessly via Settings > General > Software Update, or you can plug it in and do it through iTunes. To get the most out of iOS 10, the latest version of iOS, here are a handful of useful iOS 10 tips.

Battery life

Apple works hard on battery life for the iPhone and some users report that their juice keeps on flowing for longer than it does on some Android flagship phones (this is highly debatable). You may miss home screen widgets, but at least there’s a reduced drain on the battery without them. Whether you find an improvement, or not, most of you are probably going to want to find ways of maximizing that iPhone battery life.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Extra iPhone options and tips

We’ve got some handy iPhone 7 tips and tricks to help you get started with your new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. If you decided to save some cash and go for an older model, then start with our iPhone 6S tips or iPhone 6 tips.

You’ll find video calls built-in as an option with the iPhone, thanks to the FaceTime feature. You can find everything you need to know about that in our how to use FaceTime guide.

If you run into any serious problems with your iPhone, then check out how to factory reset your iPhone. We also have guides to common iPhone 7 problems and iOS 10 problems, complete with solutions where possible. You can deal with unwanted calls with how to block calls on an iPhone. We cover all sorts of tips and guides for the iPhone here at Digital Trends, so dig around and you’ll find plenty more useful information.

Before we sign off, take a look at the best iPhone 7 cases and the best iPhone 7 Plus cases.

Let us know how your move to iOS goes. Do you have any other tips for Android defectors? Feel free to share them in the comments. If you ever want to cross back over to the other side then remember, we also have an iOS to Android guide.