How to make the switch from Android to iPhone 4
iPhone 4 with its 960×640 retina display, easy-peasy FaceTime video calling, high quality 5 megapixel, back-illuminated camera that shoots 720p 30fps video, and the silky smoothness of iOS 4 convincing you to switch from Google’s Android to Apple’s newest handset? Worried about moving over your personal data like contacts, finding apps, getting used to the differences? Wondering where to get help?
Relax. You’re in the the right place. Follow along after the break for everything you need to know (more properly, everything the TiPb iPhone Forums have taught us) about switching from Android to iPhone 4 and iOS 4.
(And yes, we’ll have BlackBerry, webOS, and Windows Mobile switcher guides up later this week as well).
Android to iPhone – or there and back again
Maybe you used to have an iPhone but after several months the luster wore off and Google’s relentless march of new devices — Droid, Nexus One, Incredible, Evo 4G, Droid 2, Droid x… stop us any time! — got you itching to try life on the Android side, and now you’re back? Maybe the previous lack of multitasking made you wait until now to try iPhone for the first time? It doesn’t matter. The past is the past and this is about the future — your future with iPhone 4 and iOS 4. This is about getting you from Android to 100mph on the iPhone as fast as possible.
Moving over contacts, calendars, and email
Here’s the good news: if you’re using Android chances are you’re using Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts for your personal information, and those all work really well on the iPhone. You can set them up either as an Exchange account (which uses Google Sync’s ActiveSync license) to push everything straight from the mothership to your iPhone.
Since iOS 4 can handle multiple ActiveSync accounts, that’s the way we recommend you go. Just tap the Settings icon on the Home Screen, tap Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, choose Exchange, and enter your credentials. Google even has a help page [link] if you’re not sure just what exactly to put where.
About the only things you’ll miss — and we miss them too — is a more Gmail-like mail app. iPhone Mail is a great IMAP client but Gmail does things their own way, with threads and labels and stars. You’ll get threads, but the other two just aren’t there.
If it bothers you enough, you can load up gmail.com right in the Safari web browser. Google makes the best web apps in the business and they work great in Safari (which shares the same WebKit root as Google’s own Chrome). Once you’ve logged in to Gmail, Safari will ask you to cache a few megs of mail on your iPhone — HTML5 and SQLite power! — and then you’re good to go.
On the off chance you don’t like ActiveSync you can hit the handy Gmail button instead in Mail Settings and go the IMAP route. If you don’t even use Gmail, you can setup MobileMe (Apple’s expensive push service), Exchange, or pretty much any POP3 or IMAP service you have via the Other button.
What to do about Google Voice and Google Navigation
YouTube, Google-powered Maps, and Google search are built right into the iPhone. Enjoy. Google Voice and Google Navigation… those are harder to replace.
If you’re not in the US, you probably don’t have to worry about Google Voice since it’s not international yet, and Google Navigation is just starting to spread so you may not have to worry about that either. If you are in the US and are a big Google Voice and Google Navigation user, here’s where things get sticky — Apple hasn’t allowed Google Voice into the App Store and Google hasn’t made Google Navigation for the iPhone yet.
It’s like when mom and dad fight and the kids suffer, right? There’s a couple alternatives you can check out for each, though none are ideal — and most aren’t free.
For Google Voice you can use Google’s own web app. It’s pretty good, though obviously more limited than a native app would be. There are also 3rd party Google Voice web apps like Black Swan and rival services like Line2.
For Google Navigation, you have the previously mentioned, though much more limited Google Maps built in. It lacks turn by turn and voice directions but is free and useful in a pinch. There are a variety of cheap and/or crowd-sourced navigation apps as well. The cheap ones are a mixed bag. The crowd-sourced ones make us worry that Stephen Colbert’s viewers will one day move the Empire State Building to the Cleve just for lulz (joking!), but they’re worth checking out. Motion X GPS Drive is $0.99 right now, for example [iTunes]. If you prefer to navigate with the big boys, you can also find everything from TeleNav’s online maps in AT&T and Rogers Navigator to NAVIGON’s on-board maps in MobileNavigator, to TomTom which owns their own maps. They’re all great — but they come at a price.
And in iOS 4, navigation, VoIP, and — yes — streaming music Pandora or Slacker-style can all multitask away blissfully in the background.
Finding other apps (and games).
Sure Apple doesn’t allow endless keyboards, task killers, and pinup girls into the App Store, but there are 200,000 apps anyway and almost certainly any big ticket ones you’ve come to rely on in the Android Market are there, ready and waiting for download. There are also tons of games, from the casual farmers to full-on 3D shooters. TiPb reviews several a week and we’ve got a whole iPhone Apps and Games Forum ready to help you out as well.
Root meet Jailbreak
Forget the words root and ROM. Remember the words Jailbreak and Cydia. Okay, iPhone 4 probably won’t be Jailbroken (root jail broken open to allow side-loading of unsigned apps — if you don’t know what that means, skip this section) on launch day but it probably will eventually, maybe even soon. If you’re a diehard tweaker and customizer, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled to our Jailbreak coverage, and more importantly — our Jailbreak Help Forum, and Jailbreak Apps, Games, and Themes Forum.
Say farewell to fracture
Seriously, you don’t have to worry much if at all about versions and hardware compatibility any more. With very few exception, iPhone apps past, present, and future will just work on your iPhone 4. Sure the screen is bigger but it’s exactly 4 times bigger at the same physical size so existing (pre-iOS 4) apps will look the same and new (post iOS 4) apps will, frankly, blow your eyeballs out the back of your head.
Apple is all about user experience and they’re doing a lot of abstraction behind the scenes to make sure things look great in front of them. Enjoy.
Say hello to iTunes
A mixed blessing if ever there was one, iTunes runs okay on Mac, kludgy on Windows, but is the local sync client required to activate your iPhone 4 and to transfer large media and document files from your computer to your phone.
You can do a lot of things OTA (over the air), including syncing all your personal data via ActiveSync (including Google Sync) or MobileMe, download apps, and buy or rent iTunes music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, etc. (20MB or under over 3G, any size over Wi-Fi). You can find apps that let you access your Google Docs, DropBox, Box.net, and other online storage. You can even convert and stream content on the fly with apps like AirSharing [iTunes]. But at some point, be it to install a software update like iOS 4.1 (probably due this fall) or backup your data, you’re going to need to plug in to iTunes. So 2007, we know. If it’s any consolation, Apple should release iTunes.com at some point…
Say WTH to interruptive notifications and lack of widgets
For all the huge usability advantages iOS 4 has over Android 2.2 — and make no mistake they really are huge — notifications and widgets are sorely lacking.
You get one notification popup at a time that you have to view or close before you can resume what you were doing (or about to do) and once you close it — or another notification pops up on top of it — it’s gone forever.
Likewise, aside from the orientation lock and music controls in the fast app switcher UI, there’s not widgets. None for the lock screen, none for the home screen.
Hopefully Apple will fix these omissions in a future update. (Because we know Google’s planning on fixing the usability.)
More Android to iPhone help and information
If you haven’t already, check out our complete iOS 4 feature walkthrough. There’s an incredible amount of stuff in iOS 4 and you can save yourself some serious time cribbing off of us.
If you need help, or have a story to share, check out TiPb’s iPhone forum — we’ve got a special switching from Android to iPhone 4 thread going just for you!
And if we forgot anything or just plain got something wrong, let us know and we’ll add it or fix it.
Switching from Android to iPhone 4? Here’s what you need to know is a story by TiPb. This feed is sponsored by The iPhone Blog Store.