Switching from Android to iOS Part 1: Setup and Restore

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Switching from Android to iOS Part 1: Setup and Restore
After deciding to switch from Android to an iPhone, I found the experience of setting up an iPhone for the very first time is a tediously annoying task, but frankly that would be true of a long time Android user switching to any other platform, as I found when switching to Windows Phone for the first time (and a short-lived attempt to switch to Ubuntu before the platform was ready). To an extent, the switch was made easier by the Move to iOS app that Apple has made as well as the fact that, as a Google user, the vast majority of my data was in the cloud and could sync across without hassle. The only things that didn't translate over were my apps, but I'll have to cover that later.

When setting up a new iPhone, be ready for a longer than average on-boarding process and many more notifications than you're used to. This is actually a good thing (to an extent), because Apple makes it blatant and very noticeable what it is asking for which adds to the overall setup time. Google doesn't hide its goings-on in the on-boarding process, but Apple takes the extra step to make sure you know what exactly will happen if you choose whether or not diagnostics and app analytics are sent to Apple or what will happen every time you use an app.

That's all fairly basic and shouldn't take too much time. But, then there are the notifications that you'll get from every app as you use them. To be fair, Android has also begun changing permissions policies to stop having users accept everything at the time of the app install and grant permissions on an as-needed basis, so setting up Android for the first time is becoming just as cumbersome, but every app you use on both platforms will now have to ask, as needed, if it can access your location, photos, camera, or contacts. This can be extremely tedious for a setup process.

But, as noted earlier, Apple takes this a bit further and ends up asking you for permissions multiple times. In some cases, like using your fingerprint to approve app installs, it improves security. But other times, it just means you have to say yes to the same notification in two ways, because an app (mostly games) will ask for permission to serve you notifications and after you say yes, you have to accept again from the iOS system because apps can't hook in to the system to bypass that extra step. Even so, the process of installing a new app feels more cumbersome on iOS because the screen never changes. On Android, when installing a free app, you tap to install it then tap the pop-up to accept the basic permissions it asks for. On iOS, you tap the "get" button for a free app which then changes to the "install" button, even though nothing else on the screen changes. Couple that with having to enter your password, and it gets annoying (especially if you choose the need to authenticate every app install).

Restore ease

As you might expect with Apple taking the extra step, performing a factory reset on an iPhone is surprisingly complicated. When you dig into the settings to find the right spot, tapping the "erase all content and settings" option will first prompt you to enter your passcode before proceeding. Then, you have to tap the "erase iPhone" button twice, and even after that you still have to enter your password in order to complete the reset. Security is one thing, but a four step process to reset a phone seems a bit much to me.

All of that said, the process of setting up a new iPhone when you already have an iCloud backup is simple as pie. While Google has made strides in saving your used apps, restoring doesn't always represent the most recent changes to app install and uninstalls. And, Google still can't restore your app data aside from some game files. This has never really bothered me too much with Android because the majority of my data is in the cloud anyway, so there is a limited amount of local data that I'd need to be restored. But, the first time I restored my iPhone from an iCloud backup was an impressive, though slightly disconcerting, experience.

The first time I restored, all my apps went back to the position they should (which wasn't much of a surprise, nor out of the ordinary to how Google handled my apps), but amazingly all of the apps that I had logged into, like Facebook and Twitter were automatically restored so I didn't need to log in again. The only apps I had to log-in to again were my Google apps, requiring my two-factor authentication, which could explain that.

iCloud security concerns

As impressive as this was, though, it made me a bit worried about my data in a way that Apple has assured me is not an issue. Apple has positioned itself as the company that is all about your privacy and security, even going as far recently to take on the FBI in that regard. I've written before that I support Apple in the encryption debate (even if its own employees are uncomfortable with the spotlight), but there is a troubling loophole in Apple's claims.

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Apple is fighting to make sure it can't be compelled to unlock someone's personal device, a fight which I support. But, Apple will freely and without much reservation hand over to the FBI the encrypted data of yours to which it has the keys -- your iCloud data. Apple doesn't want to be forced to unlock devices or modify iOS, but Apple has admitted to handing over iCloud backup data, which is the same data used to restore my iPhone.

To be clear, Apple claims that data for iCloud Keychain, which saves your passwords and credit card info, is kept separate from the main iCloud backup, and even Apple doesn't have the keys to unlock that encryption. But, I always made sure to refuse the use of Keychain in the first place, so Apple shouldn't have been backing up my login data for various apps to iCloud. The fact that I didn't have to login again feels like a huge breach of my privacy and security on Apple's part.

Admittedly, I had to login again to all my apps the second time I erased and restored the iPhone, so there could be some limiting factors behind when Apple will restore full login states and when it doesn't, including changing devices or a certain time limit. Either way, it didn't make me feel terribly secure, even if that feeling is unjustified because the government can simply subpoena Facebook, Twitter, or Google for my data. At the very least, it calls into question Apple's pro-privacy stance.

Up Next

It's time to look at my initial feelings about making the switch and the early struggle I had with the changes. Stay tunes!

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