​Apple's debut Android app appears: 'Move to iOS' launches to help switchers

Apple's first and only app on Google Play helps Android users wirelessly transfer contacts, content, and other essentials to the iPhone.

Move to iOS and recycle your old Android at an Apple Store. Image: Apple

Along with the rollout of iOS 9, Apple has published its first Android app on Google Play. Called 'Move to iOS', it's designed to help Android users switch to an Apple device without the need for any cables.

According to Apple's description of the app on Google Play, Move to iOS is meant to make switching to Apple's mobile devices easy. The app handles the transfer of contacts, message history, photos and videos, browser bookmarks, mail accounts, and calendars from an Android to an iOS handset.

"Everything about iOS is designed to be easy," says Apple. "That includes switching to it. With just a few steps, you can migrate your content automatically and securely from your Android device with the Move to iOS app. No need to save your stuff elsewhere before switching from Android."

By enabling a wireless transfer, Apple is cutting out the few steps required for transferring from iOS to Android, helpfully outlined in step-by-step instructions from Google's chairman Eric Schmidt in 2013. For contacts, this involved logging into iCloud from a desktop, and exporting them as a vCard file before transferring them from the desktop to contacts in Android.

The app could be useful for the continued influx of Android smartphone owners to iOS. Though Android still dominates smartphone marketshare worldwide, Android switchers have accounted for around a quarter of new iPhone buyers over the past year, according to some sales estimates.

The app's presence on Google Play may have offended loyal Android fans: the app garnered nearly 2,000 one-star ratings compared to 472 five star ratings. And though hardly surprising, as one user noted, Apple's app hasn't conformed to Google's Material Design look-and-feel for Android.

When a person has bought a new iPhone or iPad, the iOS devices creates a private wi-fi network and searches for a nearby Android device running the app. After entering a security code in the Android device, the contents begin transferring. Once complete Apple provides a reminder that the device can be recycled for free at any Apple Store.

Though Move to iOS made its first appearance on Google Play, Apple quietly flagged it up as a forthcoming feature when it unveiled iOS 9 at WWDC in June. The feature is baked into iOS 9 as its Android migration tool.

Since Google Play is blocked in China, Apple provides a separate link for users there to directly download the Move to iOS APK file from Apple's servers.

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