Starting with Samsung’s newly-launched foldable smartphones, WhatsApp will now let you securely transfer your chat history should you jump from iOS to Android. While it’s not something most people will want to do most of the time, it’s nice to know that now you can.
The new feature was announced today at Samsung’s launch event, and leading the way are transfers from iOS to Android on the newly launched Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. The new transfer capabilities include conversations, photos, and voice memos. The company says that other Samsung phones running Android 10 will come on board in a matter of weeks, but did not supply a specific timetable. Eventually, the feature will cover all transfers between iOS and Android phones, regardless of brand, but no other details were released.
The new feature solves a longstanding issue for users: That it’s never been officially possible to transfer chat history between mobile operating systems. If you reside in the Apple ecosystem, WhatsApp’s cloud backups are stored in iCloud; if you’re on an Android device, your backups go to Google Drive, and never before have the two been able to share a common ground. That’s about to change, and you’ll need a Lightning to USB-C cable to get it done. Even then, all may not be perfect. If you’re a historical platform hopper and have separate cloud backups, the new transfer feature won’t merge them into a single chat history.
The new WhatsApp feature works with Samsung’s Smart Switch transfer tool. Smart Switch already works to transfer contacts, photos, music, messages, notes, and calendars to Samsung Galaxy devices. It will now add WhatsApp chat history to that roster. But according to WhatsApp, the new operation needed to be — and was — a team effort. Because messages are end-to-end encrypted and stored on users’ devices, a tool that moves chat history between operating systems required cooperation between WhatsApp and operating system and device vendors to ensure proper security.
Allowing WhatsApp users to transfer their communications cross-platform is also seen as a way to lower the barrier for iOS users who wish to jump on to Android, and especially Samsung’s brand new offerings. However, it will also be useful for current Android users who may have an eye on an upcoming iPhone 13. Either way that customers move, pretty soon no WhatsApp user will have to worry about losing track of a critical conversation because of their smartphone platform of the moment.