Since the release of Windows Phone 8.1 in Microsoft’s phone OS has caught up to Android and iOS in many areas I decided to make the switch from Android to Windows Phone. I switching from using a Nexus 5 to a Nokia Lumia 1520 and I have to say I really love Windows Phone especially with the extra Nokia apps. If you thinking of making the switching I can say you are really going to love Windows Phone if you can get all the apps and services you need for the OS. When you make the switch there are a few tips can make life easier so this guide is designed to help move from Android to Windows Phone 8.1.
Using Gmail, Calendar and Contacts on Windows Phone
If you are using Android you are probably using Gmail for your email, contacts and calendar so when you switch to Windows Phone you are going to want to bring that data with you and keep it synced. The good news is that you can use Google’s Gmail services with Windows Phone. To add the account go to Setting, Email and Accounts and then tap Add an Account. You then tap Google and it will take you to a Google Sign in page where you enter your account details and connect with Windows Phone. It will then synchronize your email, calendar and contacts on your device. So far I have no issues using Gmail on Windows Phone and everything seems ok.
Another Google Service that I used a lot is Google Maps, I used it for navigation and checking the traffic on my route home. This is an area where Windows Phone excels, HERE maps has turn by turn navigation, offline maps and a commute feature that warns you about delays on your route to or from work. These features come with Windows Phone and to set them up just open up the apps and for commute you setup your home and work locations. One thing I did miss when switching was the extra traffic details Google Maps offered over HERE maps and there is an app you can use called GMaps+ which combines the traffic info from Google Maps with the built in Windows Phone maps (see my guide) which helps with the extra traffic info.
Google Play Music is a great service, I uploaded all my music to it and subscribed to the All Access subscription service. Unfortunately Google don’t offer Windows Phone apps so you have to either switch services or use a 3rd party app. I have been using an app called CloudMusik which enables streaming and download of Google Play Music on to Windows Phone, it’s not as good as the native apps but it works (See my How To Guide). The other option is to switch to using Xbox Music which is a service that is getting better and better. You can upload and match your music then stream and download to your Windows Phone, Xbox or Windows PC. There is also a music subscription service that you can stream or download music on the phone from the Xbox Music collection. My initial impressions of the service are that it’s not as complete a system as Google’s offering but it works and I am going to switch from using Google Play Music to Xbox Music.
Google Now to Cortana
If you are switching from Android you are going to be looking for a replacement for Google Now, Android’s personal assistant / notifications system. With Windows Phone 8.1 you get Cortana Microsoft’s personal assistant and you can set up locations like home and work just as Google Now does. You can also setup your interests and Cortana will collate them for you on the phone. You can ask Cortana to setup reminders based on time or location, so you could ask Cortana to remind you to get milk when you get to the supermarket and you can have Cortana read out text messages to you while driving. At the moment Cortana is available in the US and in beta form in the UK if you have Windows Phone 8.1 Update installed (currently only available via the developer preview) hopefully it won’t be long before its rolled out to all users.
If you store your documents in Google Drive there are a few ways of moving over. You could go you to your PC and download your documents and then upload them to OneDrive which is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution. You can even do it directly on the phone via the browser, just go to Google Docs in Internet Explorer and download the document which scan then be saved into OneDrive. There are also 3rd party Google Doc apps for Windows Phone but I haven’t tried any out yet.
Photos and Videos
What about your photos and videos? It depends on what you have and where they are stored. Facebook pictures will show up in the Facebook app on Windows Phone and if you link your Facebook account to Windows Phone (via the app) your Facebook photos will show up in the photo app. Photos stored on your Android phone can be copied over using a PC, both the Android and Windows phone will show up as attached storage in Windows so you should be able to connect both devices up and copy the files between devices. Another way is to install the OneDrive app on your PC and then copy the files from the Android device to a folder on OneDrive, you can then sync the folder with your phone. If you have your photos stored on Google Plus you can download a single photo either on your PC or via Internet Explorer on your phone. To download all your photos you can use Google’s take out service and download all your photos or selected albums to download, you could download the photos and copy them to OneDrive. You can use a 3rd party Google Plus app or Google Plus on IE if you want to view your photos so you could leave them on Google’s service.
It’s easy to switch
So making the move from Android to Windows Phone is pretty easy depending on how dependant you are on Google services and if the apps you use are available. Before you switch its worth checking out if your apps are available for Windows Phone. Internet Explorer in Windows Phone is pretty good so even where an app is not available you can probably use the browser. I was a heavy Android user and found it pretty easy to switch over.
If you have any other tips be sure to leave them in the comments.