Cloud aids mobile OS migration

Such services helpful for data backup before switching mobile operating systems, say users who share other tips for smooth migration.

Cloud services are useful for backing up files and data should users decide to migrate to a different mobile operating system (OS). This is one of several tips from mobile consumers to make the switch less cumbersome.

U.S.-based system analyst Tom Nguyen, who has used phones running on Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS, Apple iOS and Google Android, suggested users tap a centralized data management system to store files. With the data stored elsewhere, users will not need to worry about moving files from one device to another when they switch.

Nguyen explained: "Using cloud-based hosting  for all your files is a good way to be platform independent. You can even host your own cloud or file server so you can connect to it whenever you want, using whatever device of your choice."

Netherlands-based Dirk-Jan Koeman, who has used iOS, Android and Microsoft Windows Phone, does the same for his files. He uses cloud storage Dropbox  to sync documents on the cloud so he can access them from any OS.

Similarly, Koeman noted the contact list of a phone can be synced on different OS if it is stored in a Web-based contact list such as Google's Gmail.

Singapore-based user Benjamin Chew who backs up his contacts to Google and uses cloud services to sync his docoments and images feels making a switch between OSes is not difficult.

In the past four months, he has switched between Android, BlackBerry and iOS, and does not find it a hassle to move between OSes. For Chew,  it is "just a matter of adapting" to the different interfaces.

Before switching to a new operating system, Nguyen said users should sync data into their computer, including contacts and phone numbers, documents, videos, pictures, bookmarks as well as all hidden files or protected folders if any. "Make a full backup of your current phone if necessary," he added.

For business users who have connected their old phones to enterprise systems, they should inform their IT administrators about the change and ask for further support, he said.

However, users need to be aware their company's system might not be able to handle a specific platform so they will be unable to check their work e-mail, calendars or chat on their new device, he added.

The last advice he had for users looking to switch mobile OSes is to keep the old phone, "at least for a while", as a backup plan.

Future-proofing app investment
To future-proof their app investments, users need to do some research on the apps they want to buy to make sure the developers have made the same apps available on other platforms.

Nguyen said: "For example, Amazon Kindle app is a good choice for books since it is available on iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone 7."

However, Koeman believes there is pointless to think about migrating apps as mobile OSes have different appstores and APIs (application programming interfaces).

Mobile app developer trainer, Dave Murphy, said developers can help simplify mobile OS migration for user by building mobile Web apps instead of native apps.

"A mobile Web app is built using newer technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3. This allows the application to work on any device as opposed to building a native application [that runs on an individual] device," said Murphy.