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Switching Androids? Here’s how

After using the HTC Flyer tablet, SEAN BACHER attempts to migrate to a new device – with downloaded apps intact. He discovers that taking the same app profile from one Android device to another is not as easy as one would expect.

So you have decided to upgrade your old Android based tablet to a new one? Not an uncommon occurrence considering the large number of tablets now available in South Africa, many using different Android operating system flavours with different screen sizes and different processors.

For the purpose of this article I will be migrating my data from the 7-inch HTC Fyer running Android 2.3.4 to the 10-inch Motorola Xoom running 3.0.1.

First things first, make sure the batteries on both devices are fully charged. There is nothing more infuriating than getting half way through your migration only to realise that you are running out of juice and need to get the device plugged in quickly.

After that, it’s time to clean up. If you are anything like me, you have downloaded applications that you have used for no longer than five minutes before you have gotten bored. Use the application manager on the device to remove these properly as they are now just a waste of space.

Now back those applications up. After some research on the Internet, I found that there is no clear and precise way to transfer your applications from one device to the other. There are numerous back-up and restore apps on the Google Market Place, but after trying a few of them all they let me do is restore the applications to the same device they were backed up from.

Furthermore, once these applications have been backed up and restored, they no longer automatically update. Also, all game progress and application changes will be lost after you have restored them. Many sites offer the conclusion that applications may or may not be automatically re-installed when you enter your Google account details on the new device. This depends on many factors such as if your original tablet is set to automatically back-up to your Google account, what privacy settings you have enabled and what version of Android you were first using and which one you are moving to. All in all, it sounds like a bit of black magic. You won’t know if it works until you actually try it.

The tried and tested method is to be prepared to re-install all your applications. You can check what you had previously installed through the purchase history option in the Android Market and you won’t have to re-pay for all your previously purchased applications. Hopefully Google remedies this situation soon by developing a quick and easy ‚Switch Device’ feature.

You also need to remember that because you are moving to a newer Android device, chances are you are going to be running a new Android operating system and so don’t expect all your current application versions to run on the new OS.

After you are done with your applications you need to backup any documents, spreadsheets, music or videos. If you have a few spreadsheets and documents, I suggest you setup a DropBox account for yourself, not only will it make migrating from one device to the other easier in the future, but it is also a very easy to use back-up solution.

If you have loads of music and videos, I suggest backing them up to your computer or memory card and then manually transferring them to your new device. Transferring these files to your DropBox account is just not feasible ‚ especially over 3G.

If you use your tablet to send and receive text messages, you may want to back these up too. An app available from the Android Market called SMS Backup lets you easily back-up straight to your Gmail account.

After this, you may want to install a program called Astro File Manager to navigate your device for any files you may have overlooked. It is a very easy to use, well laid out file navigation program that will let you jump quickly from folder to folder and view files.

Bring on the new device.

It’s now time to boot your shiny new device up.

Go through the preliminary setup procedures, such as setting your time-zone and inputting your Gmail, Twitter and other social networking details and let the device register itself on the network.

Your e-mail and social feeds should automatically start coming through in a few minutes, your calendar entries and contacts database should also be automatically populated.

Now import your old SMSs, which can be done using the same program you used to back them up. Re-install your most used applications if they did not automatically install (a perfect time to choose your most needed applications).

You also need to install DropBox and log in before you can copy your documents back down to your new device. Also, copy all of those MP3s and videos from your computer or memory card and finally ‚ enjoy your new tablet.

* Follow Sean Bacher on Twitter on @seanbacher

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