Migrating SMS messages from iOS to Android

The iPhone 3GS that I use for work is now getting a little long in the tooth, no longer eligible for updates (read security risk) and the battery often runs out before the end of the day.  I still have a 4S that I use (with iOS 7) in my personal life but the company iPhone was replaced today with an Android handset (Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini).  This is my first Android phone – and will be an interesting experience because I want to see how this Google platform gets on with Microsoft Exchange (my previous experience with ActiveSync has been with iOS and Windows Phone 7).

Initial impressions are mixed and it may take me some time to get used to Android (or maybe it’s the O2/Samsung customisations) but I do have one observation: Google Play seems much faster than iTunes for app downloads…

The first apps installed on my phone were iSMS2droid, Dropbox and Spotify. Two of those apps seem pretty obvious, but “what’s iSMS2droid?”, you might ask.  It’s a handy app for importing SMS messages extracted from an iPhone backup to Android format.

The mechanics of transferring SMS messages from iPhone to Android are described in a hongkiat.com blog post but, in short, the steps are:

  1. Backup the iPhone in iTunes
  2. Locate the backup file in %appdata%/Apple Computer/Mobile Sync/Backup/ on Windows or ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ on a Mac
  3. Open the folder with the most recent timestamp (one per synced device, I think)
  4. Search for the file called 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28 and copy it to your Android phone (I did this via Dropbox)
  5. Open iSMS2droid and tap “Select iPhone SMS Database”, then point the app at the file you transferred from the iPhone backup. This will allow the message database to be converted and will save a file called iSMS2droid.xml (on my phone, it was in /storage/sdcard0/SMSBackupRestore).
  6. At this stage you’ll need another app, called SMS Backup & Restore, which can read the iSMS2droid.xml file (on my phone, it was in /storage/sdcard0/SMSBackupRestore) and import the messages.  All but one of my SMS messages were then restored and availble in the Android app.

Unfortunately, I did have a couple of issues to resolve along the way.

With SMS messages transferred, next step is contacts.  I can see these in Outlook, so pretty sure ActiveSync is handling them for me… let’s see what happens when I connect the ‘droid to the company servers…

Just bought the latest smartphone? Your old “brick” might come in useful somewhere too!

I bought my first mobile phone in 1995 (a Nokia 2140). At the time my friends thought I was “yuppie” and there was a bit of a social stigma attached (to be fair, I was a bit of an idiot about it) but, within a couple of years mobiles were starting to become universally accepted…

Fast forward almost two decades and, a couple of weeks ago, I was at an event where Telefonica O2’s vice president of research and development, Mike Short, mentioned that there are now 6 billion mobile devices in our world and that’s still growing at a phenominal rate. The telcos count this based on subscriptions (which includes feature phones, smartphones, tablets, mobile payment systems, and more) but have you ever thought about the uses that old mobile handsets can be put to?

I have a Nokia 6021 that I keep as a spare handset (it’s pretty dumb, but makes calls, has Bluetooth, battery lasts a while, and it’s almost indestructable) but most of my other handsets have been sold or recycled over the years.

O2’s recycling scheme supports their Think Big programme but I’d like to think there’s a fair chance that old handsets can find a use in the developing world too. Because mobile commerce is not just about smartphones – the Mobile Internet and NFC – but, in parts of the world where bandwith is more scarce, there are many examples of mobile projects using SMS, or even a missed call:

So maybe it’s time to dig out that old mobile that’s gathering dust somewhere and send it for recycling? Even if there is limited financial reward for you, it might still have a life elsewhere, or, at the very least the components can be recycled for environmental purposes.

iMessage – the makings of a great idea but still needs some work

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experiences with iCloud and photostreams. Well, now I’d like to touch on another iOS-related topic: iMessage.

Released to much fanfare about how it will save us all money because we won’t have to pay carriers for SMS, over here in the UK most packages include so many text messages that SMS is pretty close to free anyway…

But iMessage has a problem. It actually gets in the way of message transmission.

Last week I wanted to send a message to my Manager. SMS was fine – I just needed to say I was running a few minutes late for our meeting and I would call him shortly. That’s what SMS is good for, right? Except that we’re both iPhone users, so iOS tried to send the message via iMessage. For some reason it couldn’t do that so, after five minutes, it timed out and and sent the message as an SMS instead. Except by then it was too late – SMS is an unreliable transport (i.e. there is no guarantee of delivery) but it’s generally immediate (as long as the device is in range and switched on). Unfortunately, iMessage’s delay meant that my Manager didn’t get my “running late” message until it was, literally, too late.

Send As SMS is an option in iOS, but it’s only a fallback when iMessage is enabled [later iOS updates allow you to elect to send as text message]. Meanwhile iMessage has lots of potential for group collaboration and asynchronous conversations. I actually think Apple is onto something with a unified client for various message transports (now they need to add email, social networks, etc. into the mix) but it needs a manual override option too…

[Updated 5/2/15 to comment re: later iOS releases allowing “send as text message”]