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As many concerns as there are about iMessage lock-in, it’s not the only messaging platform that suffers from this effect. For years, the popular WhatsApp messaging app was enough to make many users reluctant to switch smartphone platforms since it came with the cost of losing your conversation history.
Facebook parent company Meta, which also owns WhatsApp, began offering a way to help iPhone users easily switch to Android last year. However, sadly those who wanted to move to an iPhone were still forced to leave their chat histories behind.
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that it would soon be possible to transfer almost all your WhatsApp data from Android to iPhone, including chat history, photos, videos, and even voice messages — and to do it all while maintaining end-to-end encryption.
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Now, that feature appears to be live. As noted in the WhatsApp help center, it looks like the app has integrated with Move to iOS, an Android app developed by Apple to offer a smooth transition for Android users into the world of the iPhone.
How to Migrate WhatsApp to iPhone
There are a few key things required to pull this off. Most notably, your iPhone will need to be running iOS 15.5. This suggests that this secure transfer capability has only recently become possible with changes in Apple’s latest iOS release.
The requirements are much less stringent on the Android side. Move to iOS can be installed on any device running Android OS Lollipop with SDK 21 or above or Android 5 or later.
Before you start, you’ll also need to ensure WhatsApp has been updated to the latest version on your Android device.
The Move to iOS app also requires that an iPhone be either new out of the box or reset to factory settings before it can transfer any data to it. That’s fine for first-time switchers, but it could be a pain if you’ve already started using your new iPhone, as you’ll have to wipe it and start over.
However, once all the pieces are in place, the transfer process is pretty straightforward:
- Open the Move to iOS app on your Android device.
- Enter the code displayed on your iPhone to confirm that you’re migrating to the correct device.
- Continue through the process, and, when prompted, ensure WhatsApp is selected on the Transfer Data screen, along with anything else you want to transfer over.
- Follow the instructions in the Move to iOS app to start the transfer, and then wait for it to complete.
Once the transfer begins, you’ll be signed out of WhatsApp on your Android phone. This will prevent any new messages from coming in after your existing conversation history has already been bundled up for transfer, which could result in them being lost in the process. Nevertheless, your WhatsApp data will remain on your Android phone after the process completes unless you delete WhatsApp or wipe your device entirely.
As with other data transferred using Move to iOS, everything runs over an encrypted peer-to-peer connection using your local Wi-Fi network. This means that neither Apple nor Meta can see your WhatsApp conversation history during the transfer.
Once the transfer completes, the WhatsApp data will be sitting in the background on your iPhone; you need only to install WhatsApp from the App Store and log in using the same phone number. Apple makes this even easier by dropping the WhatsApp icon onto your Home Screen as an “offloaded” app; you simply need to tap on it to download it from the App Store.
WhatsApp will ask you to authenticate with your phone number the first time you open it, as that’s necessary to decrypt the transferred data. Once you’ve done that, you should see your chats waiting for you in the iPhone app. You’ll also be offered the option to backup your WhatsApp data to iCloud Drive. This will make switching to a new iPhone much smoother, as your WhatsApp chats will be restored onto the new iPhone with the rest of your data.
While almost everything gets transferred as part of this process, Meta notes a couple of exceptions, specifically your WhatsApp call history and peer-to-peer payment messages.