Is it time to switch from iOS to Android?

With yet another iPhone in the pipeline, could it be time to make the change to Googles operating system? These questions and answers may help you decide

Apple is about to unveil its latest smartphone, likely to be called the iPhone 7. Plenty of owners of older iPhones will be eager to upgrade, but what if youre losing faith in Apples flagship device?

According to research firm Gartner, Android accounts for 86.2% of new smartphone sales, with impressive handsets from Samsung, Motorola and Google tempting people away from iOS.

Considering making the switch? Here are answers to some of the questions you might have.

Will I be stumped by an unfamiliar interface?

You will have to learn a few different conventions on Android, but the basic vocabulary of tapping and swiping is the same, as is the structure of apps and folders on your home screen. The major difference in Android is a few extra onscreen buttons. The universal back button takes you to the previous page or app, while the overview button pops up previews of all your running apps, so you can switch between them.

Will I lose all my contacts and bookmarks?

No; you can keep them by copying them from iCloud into your Google account. Apple has a guide for exporting your address book as a vCard file via the iCloud website.

Safari bookmarks can be synced with Googles Chrome browser: search the Chrome web store for iCloud Bookmarks to find the necessary plug-in.

Syncing your iOS calendar with Google Calendar is even easier; on your iPhone, go to Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars and then select or set up your Google account and turn on the switch next to Calendars.

Will people still be able to message me?

If you use WhatsApp or other popular messaging apps, these are all available on Android too: your friends wont even know youve switched. There is one potential gotcha, however. iMessage is an Apple-only feature that automatically routes text messages over the internet where possible. After youve switched to Android, its possible that incoming text messages to your phone number will continue being diverted to the iMessage network, meaning you wont receive them.

To ensure your settings update, visit Apples help page and remove yourself from iMessage manually.

Will all my favourite apps be available?

There are few big-name apps that dont support Android, from games and social apps to productivity tools, even if new releases sometimes still come earlier to iOS. Certain genres still suffer on Android in comparison to iOS. For example, music-makers should be warned there is still no real alternative to Apples GarageBand on Android or the many professional-grade audio tools that exist on iOS.

There is also no direct equivalent to Apples iMovie, although there are a growing number of video-editing tools on Android that handle parts of that apps features.

Will I lose access to my music?

Not at all. In the early days of iTunes, its downloads could only be played on Apple hardware. Anything youve bought since 2009 will be in the unrestricted M4A format though, which can easily be converted into MP3s that will play on any Android phone. Streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer are available on Android, as is Apple Music, so you can sign in on your new phone and access all your old playlists.



figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Android Nougat allows you precise control over app notifications. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Are Android phones worse for photography?

Apple might think so, but there are Android phones with cameras as good as the iPhones or better. Samsungs Galaxy S7 has a wider lens aperture than the iPhone 6 and 6S, for example, plus optical image stabilisation for steadier shots. If youre worried about losing the photos from your iPhone camera roll, you can export them on to your computer or install the Google Photos app on iOS to upload them to your Google account.

Will I be vulnerable to viruses and hacking attacks?

Android gives app developers a lot of freedom, which means you can apply cool customisations that arent possible on iOS, such as third-party widgets on the home screen. But yes, this means Android phones are more vulnerable to malware attacks. In theory, a malicious app could snoop on your banking details, lock up your data or run up huge bills by silently calling premium-rate numbers when youre not looking.

Dont panic, though such outbreaks are rare and a little common sense goes a long way. Dont install apps from unfamiliar sites stick to the official Google Play store and, ideally, stick to established apps with plenty of positive user reviews.

Will Android work properly with my Mac?

If you prefer to use iTunes on your desktop, then switching will demand a certain adjustment of your habits theres no comparable central control panel for Android. Your settings and content are managed from within the relevant apps and websites.

However, if you want to drag and drop files manually from your desktop on to a connected Android phone, you can do it using Googles standalone Android File Transfer tool for the Mac. It works the other way too, so you can keep copies of your on-device photos and music or take your pick from the many backup apps on Google Play, both free and paid-for.

Will I have to get by without Touch ID and Night Shift?

Apples Touch ID sensor is a great piece of technology, but there are plenty of Android phones with similar thumbprint scanners, the Nexus 5X and 6P for example, which can be used in the same way to unlock the phone and authorise purchases from Google Play.

As for Night Shift, the feature in iOS 9.3 that tints the screen at night to help your brain wind down and sleep better, Google is working on something similar but it hasnt yet been officially baked into the operating system.

Google Play offers a selection of apps that can do the same thing. Twilight is one highly rated option thats free to download so you dont need to lose sleep over switching.

Will my accessories still work?

Bluetooth accessories such as headphones and speakers should work perfectly well on Android, while health and fitness trackers tend to support both Android and iOS with their apps. Anything with a Lightning connector, however, is sadly a no-go: the plugs and sockets are patented, so you cant hook them up to a non-Apple device. Its a similar situation if youve splashed out on an Apple Watch. Despite speculation that Apple might open the watch up to work with Android smartphones, it remains iOS-only for now. The good news is that if you cant live without a smartwatch, theres a good range of Android Wear devices out there for less than 100.

What if I want to switch from Android to iPhone?

Many of the reassurances above apply just as well the other way, from apps to music. Apple has also launched an Android app called Move to iOS that migrates your photos, messages, contacts and bookmarks to an iPhone.

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