We’re kicking Tech 911 up to “hard mode” this week—a little—because moving data from one smartphone platform to the other can be tricky. In a perfect world, there would be a quick, easy-to-use solution to getting your text messages from the platform you’re leaving to the platform you’re going to. And there is—you just have to set it up at the right time.
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My friend and former colleague Jeremy Kaplan, editor in chief of Digital Trends, tweeted this message a while ago, and it’s been something I’ve been thinking about (occasionally) ever since:
He’s perfectly right. In a world where we all sing songs, hold hands, and freely switch between whatever smartphone platforms we want to use, all companies would offer a cloud-based solution for text messaging that you could use to easily import and export messages from any device—smartphones, tablets, stupid-looking glasses, et cetera.
The easy way: moving messages when setting up a new smartphone
Right now, the best way to get your messages from iOS to Android, or vice versa, is to use each company’s “transfer to” app. If you’re on iPhone and you’re jumping ship to Android, your device’s manufacturer probably has an app, cable, or dongle that allows you to rip your data off your Apple device and dump it on your new Android device. (For example: Samsung, LG, Google, and Huawei)
If you’re on Android and you’re moving to a new iPhone, Apple offers a similar app (on Google Play) that should pull all of your text messages from Android onto your iPhone.
The hard way: moving messages to a smartphone you’ve been using
If you’re already using your newer Android smartphone or iPhone, your options are more limited. I’m not sure there’s a way to move messages from an Android smartphone to an iPhone if you aren’t setting up a new iPhone—at least, I haven’t found an app to do it that doesn’t sound like a complete scam, and Apple doesn’t provide any instructions for manually moving messages. Your best bet is to just backup your messages so you can view them later, even if it isn’t on your new iPhone.
(I confess, I don’t really use third-party messaging services like WhatsApp or Signal, so if any Lifehacker readers have any tips for apps that let you import your device’s text messages—and also sync to the cloud—that could be one way to get your Android messages over to an iPhone you’ve been using.)
As for going from an iPhone to an Android smartphone, you should be able to import messages by backing up your iPhone to a computer, grabbing the right files, and using iSMS2Droid on your Android device to pull them in. TechRepublic has a great write-up on how this works. More importantly, I don’t believe the app overwrites any messages you already have on Android—your iPhone’s messages should just supplement them. Reviews of iSMS2Droid on Google Play, as of today, indicate the app still seems to work well, so I’d give it a shot.