Android to iOS: process and initial thoughts

wherein the tiger changes his stripes

I replaced my Nexus 5 with a regular iPhone 6, and have so far lived to tell the tale.


I’ve been an avid Android fan (either raw AOSP or CyanogenMod distributions) since Cupcake, and I feel I have a good sense of what discerning Android users expect from apps on that platform. I not only have an academic understanding of Google’s design guidelines for Android, but also years of practical experience with UX conventions.

When it comes to iOS, my experience is academic and distant. I’m familiar with Apple’s design guidelines for iOS, and I test projects on the platform frequently. Yet I have not had to live in that foreign land and learn its customs, I’ve been an iOS tourist.

So when a family member prompted me to perform the sacred ritual of “hand-me-down”, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to address the gap in my professional experience.

Cloud Lifeboat

Such a move would be daunting in the past. I dimly recall lining up a Nokia phone to beam my address book as infrared light to it’s replacement kin. And just forget about it if the two phones weren’t from the same manufacturer.

Thankfully, it’s been a fairly routine affair these days, made even easier if you managed to avoid platform-specific apps and services as I have. Apple even has a guide on how to move content from your Android phone to iPhone.

Email, Contacts and Calendars

In Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars I configured my personal and work Gmail accounts, my Microsoft and ISP-provided email accounts, as well as my iCloud account (of course).

I disabled Notes synchronisation for everything except iCloud, to avoid extra cruft accumulating in my Gmail accounts. For those Gmail accounts, I’ve also disabled Mail synchronisation. I’m using Google’s Inbox and Gmail apps for iOS instead of Apple’s Mail. It’s important to me that my primary email accounts function correctly, and Mail has a history of being problematic (due partly to Google’s particular flavour of IMAP).


Warning: do not erase your old handset until you’ve migrated your OTP code generators!

I’ve learnt the hard way with previous handset replacements that it’s a very bad idea to procrastinate doing this part. I tend to transition OTP code generators as I setup their associated accounts, just to be on the safe side.


Google’s Drive suite follows me everywhere, although I do plan on evaluating Microsoft and Apple’s cross-platform entrants in the office suite race.

I have todo lists (including a shared grocery list) in Wunderlist. We use Trello at work here and there, and I’ve used it for brainstorming for personal projects, such as organising my recent move.

Social Networks and News

The Twitter, Facebook and Google+ apps are some of the earliest apps I’ll install on any new device. The presence of these apps improves the login experience in some apps, but most other apps lean on webviews for social authentication.

These organic, squishy sources play an increasing role in my awareness of world events, etc, but I still rely on RSS feeds and “real” news apps for the most part. To that end, I have cross-platform subscriptions in Tumblr and Feedly, and I’ll thumb through Google’s Play Newstand app for free articles to pass the time.

I would have installed an official GitHub app if there was one for iOS. The Stack Exchange app functions at least as well as its Android counterpart.

Photos and Videos

I configure the Google+ app to back up my photos and videos automatically. I’ve not lost a single photo or video since using this feature, across 4 previous Nexus Androids.

I’ll leave Apple’s equivalant iCloud features enabled, but I’m weary of the 5GB baseline quota (compared to Google’s 15GB). I suspect I’ll have to subscribe for a larger cap.

Commercial Content

My iTunes collection comprises but a few dozen tracks. Google’s Play network meets the majority of my commercial content needs: Play Books, Play Music and Play Movies. Thankfully, Google provides iOS apps for these services. Having to recreate my music playlists would have otherwise been time-consuming.


PocketCasts by ShiftyJelly is the best Android app for podcasts (I worked my way through a handful before this). Naturally, they offer an iOS app, and there’s even a web player for traditional computers.

Podcast subscriptions, listened episodes and even position in each episode is synchronised via a cloud account, and ShiftyJelly has tailored the smartphone apps to the strengths and conventions of each platform. Worth every penny, for the peace of mind alone.


Smartphone games don’t generally appeal to me much. A recent exception is Monument Valley, which is available on both Android and iOS. I’ve purchased it on both platforms to try to support the developer. Just enchanting.

Google’s Ingress is also cross-platform, and is effectively a smartphone MMORPG with a strong focus on geolocation. As an MMO, much of the gameplay boils down to farming and long-term investment, but it makes for an amusing distration.

Abandoned Data

My SMS messages did not survive the transition. Almost all of my messaging needs are met by Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger or Slack. I’ve never been the sort that saves favourite SMSs or anything, so there’s nothing worth going to any trouble over.

Whilst not technically abandoned, there’s no official Google Keep app for iOS. As such, I’ll probably transition my lists over to Wunderlist and my notes over to something else (probably Google Drive or the iOS Notes app).

Easing In

Whilst immersing myself in Google services has made the transition laughably easy, I’m aware that this does somewhat defeat the purpose of this move. I won’t be properly experiencing iOS UX conventions if Google’s cross-platform Material Design features prominently in my smartphone usage.

Over the coming weeks, I plan to shift:

  • my podcasts over to the iOS Podcast app
  • my office email from Gmail to the iOS Mail app
  • some of my content consumption over to iTunes (from Google Play)

I dearly wish Apple offered Windows and Android apps. I’d have no trepidation at all investing further into their cloud services if that were the case.

In future posts, I’ll review the iPhone and iOS itself. Please leave comments if you have any suggestions for a recent platform-hopper such as myself, or if you have specific questions that you’d like answered in my upcoming review(s).

Android to iOS series:

  1. process and initial thoughts
  2. Nexus 5 versus iPhone 6

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Ron -