How Many Android Users Really Switch to Apple’s iOS?

Apple's Move to iOS app for Android


After the launch of a new app that makes it easier for Android users to switch to iOS, you might be wondering how often people make the switch between operating systems. But vigorous backlash against the app has commandeered the conversation about why and how smartphone owners reevaluate their choice of mobile OS.

Emil Protalinski recently reported for VentureBeat that Apple has released the first Android app it’s ever built in-house, Move to iOS. The app enables users of Android phones to transfer their photos, messages, and contacts to a new iPhone or iPad. Unsurprisingly, the app has not gone over well on the Google Play Store, where it’s been bombarded with one-star reviews — almost 30,000 of them as of the time of writing, offset by only almost 6,000 five-start reviews to result in an average rating of 1.7 stars.

It’s no surprise that the app is being flooded with negative reviews, and Protalinski states that “if this isn’t a prime example of just how dumb the five-star rating system is, we don’t know what is.” The influx of negative reviews — a selection of which compare Apple’s publishing of the app to “putting Pepsi in the Coca Cola vending machine,” complain that “Apple should have showed some respect and followed android material design,” and state that switching from Android to iOS “is like choosing to just go to jail” — is also a reminder of a basic fact about the smartphone world: that many Android users hate iOS.

Some dislike Apple’s closed platform. Others are indignant that the app doesn’t follow Google’s Material Design aesthetic. Some reviewers are upset that Apple published an app on Android in the first place. And others just seem happy to have another place to share some of the reasons why they think Android is superior to iOS. Some event point out that Google wouldn’t even be able to launch an equivalent app in the iOS App Store — to help users switch from iOS to Android — because of a clause in Apple’s review guidelines, explaining that “apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.”

But looking beyond the hilarity of reading the most ridiculous reviews, Protalinski writes, “Fanboys will be fanboys, haters love to hate, and trolls will troll. The bigger problem is that Google is giving these ‘reviewers’ a platform to write whatever they want.” Like the iOS App Store, Google’s Play Store lets you rate an app immediately after downloading it, an issue that both Apple and Google could solve by requiring a certain number of minutes of use before you can rate an app. A minimum of even a minute of use would likely cut down the number of one-star reviews from users who never intend to use the app. (The same could be said for the smaller number of five-start reviews that are also fake.)

The frenzy of negative reviews also detracts from useful conversations about how users can switch between mobile operating systems. There actually are a number of users who switch from Android to iOS every year. In fact, Rene Ritchie recently reported for iMore that Apple is seeing more Android switchers than ever. During Apple’s third-quarter conference call with investors, Tim Cook mentioned users switching from Android to iOS a total of four times.

Cook reported that during the third quarter, Apple saw “the highest switcher rate from Android that we’ve ever measured.” Every time Apple introduces a new iPhone, or a new pair of iPhones, it has another chance to win over customers who are either buying their first smartphone or are looking to upgrade from their current smartphone. Particularly among users who are dissatisfied with Google’s handling of privacy and security in Android, or the gamble involved in guessing whether or not their Android phone will ever get a software update, iOS offers an attractive alternative.

Of course, we still don’t know how many users are really switching from Android to iOS, since Apple declines to share concrete numbers on this type of metric. But it’s safe to say that the number who have completed or are contemplating the switch is significant (as is, one could imagine, the number of users who are switching or have switched from iOS to Android). Which makes it a shame that the conversation around how to switch between operating systems has been mostly overtaken by Android fans condemning Apple for publishing a self-serving, but harmless, app on the Google Play Store, instead of left to users who have something helpful to say about the process of switching operating systems.

The great thing, after all, about having a choice of operating system is that there are many reasons to choose each of the major platforms. And if one of those reasons becomes more important to you, you’re always free to reevaluate your choice and switch operating systems. That’s an option that many users take advantage of each year.

Interestingly, recent research pointed out by CNET found that Android users are slightly more loyal to their operating system of choice than iOS users, but also found that switching to a new operating system isn’t an attractive option for most smartphone owners. Exactly why the users who do stick with their operating system choose to do so wasn’t clear to the researchers, especially because “users cannot easily articulate why they like one or another operating system.” If the flood of reviews from Android super-fans are any indication, then little seems to have changed.

More from Gear & Style Cheat Sheet: