In general, either because of cost or the comfort of familiarity, smartphone OS market share figures have remained fairly steady for the past six years, after the likes of BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone and Symbian fell into irrelevance. Android gets roughly 70% of the market while 30% favour iOS.
In this long running war of attrition, both Google and Apple are doing their best to attract defectors with apps designed to make switching as painless as possible. There’s Move to iOS on the Google Play Store, and Switch to Android for iOS. Both transfer data over to your new handset in real time, so your old phone can watch with horror as you pack your virtual bags and leave your loyal companion for another.
But until recently one thing has been out of both company’s control: WhatsApp. The world’s most popular chat app would transfer messages if you were going from one Android phone to another, or getting the latest iPhone as an upgrade to yesterday’s greatest, but there was no way to cross the divide.
Now that’s changing, and it could appeal to a certain kind of switcher. Last year, the Meta-owned company introduced the option to switch from iPhone to flagship Samsung Galaxy devices, and now the functionality has been rolled out to any handset running Android 12 or later. It’s all part of the aforementioned Switch to Android app, which will now prompt you to open WhatsApp if you want your messages to go with you.
And what about the other way? Yes, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that was rolling out imminently too, inconsiderately making this announcement not 48 hours after I’d written an op-ed moaning about the feature being forgotten. Touche, Zuck. Touche.
The feature is currently in beta and should be available for all long before we see Tim Cook showing off the iPhone 14 in September.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone just starting WhatsApp again without their message history, but for people like me who weirdly want tens of thousands of messages taking up space on their phone, this could make switching sides that bit more enticing.