The Android setup process screen
Ben Stockton

A new Android device means transferring all of your content, including your favorite apps, from old to new. You don’t have to do this manually as Google offers built-in support for backing up and restoring your content. Here’s how you do it.

These steps may vary based on your device manufacturer, Android version, and may only be available on newer builds of Android. If you don’t have these steps available at all, you can use a third-party app provided by your device manufacturer to transfer your apps instead.

Using the Google Backup Method

Google uses your Google account to back up your content, including apps, using your included Drive storage. You’ll need to make sure you’ve enabled Google Backup on your old device before you make any transfers.

Switch On Google Backup

To start, access your device “Settings” menu in the app drawer or by swiping down to access your notification shade and then tap the gear icon.

Access your Android settings from your notifications shade

Next, tap on “System.” If you have a Samsung device, the option is “Accounts and Backup.”

Tap Accounts and backup

In the next menu, Samsung owners will need to tap “Backup and Restore.” Other Android device owners can ignore this step.

Tap Backup and restore

Tap on “Backup.” Samsung owners, ensure that “Back Up My Data” is toggled on and then select “Google Account.”

Toggle Back up my data, then tap Google Account

Make sure that “Back Up to Google Drive” is toggled on and tap “Back Up Now” to ensure your apps are completely backed up.

Toggle Back up to Google drive

You can also tap “App data” to scroll through and check that every app you want to transfer is listed. If they are, you’re ready to start transferring, so switch over to your new device.

Transfer Your Apps to Your New Device

When you power up a new Android device or a device that has been reset to factory settings, you’ll be given the option to restore your content (including apps) from your Google Drive backup.

Again, it’s important to note these instructions may also vary depending on your version of Android and your device’s manufacturer.

Power on your new device and follow any initial instructions until you’re given the option to begin restoring your data. Choose “A Backup from the Cloud” to begin the process.

Tap a backup from the cloud

On the next screen, you might be asked to sign in to your Google account, so do this first. You will then see a list of recent backups from the Android devices linked to your Google account.

To proceed, tap the backup from whichever device you want to restore.

Tap on your chosen device backup

You’ll be given a list of content options to restore, including your device settings and contacts. “Apps” might be deselected, so tap the checkbox next to it and then select “Restore.”

Tap the Apps checkbox, then tap Restore

As your data is restored, you can finish the rest of the setup process and begin using your device.

Your apps will begin restoring and you can proceed with the rest of the setup process

Once the restoration is complete, your apps (and other content) will be transferred to your new device from your Google Drive backup, ready for you to use.

Checking Your Google Play Store App Library

If you already set up your new device before restoring or transferring data, it might be worth looking at what apps you have previously installed using your Google account. Your apps library on the Play Store will let you quickly install any apps you might be missing on your new device.

To start, open the Google Play Store app and then expand the hamburger menu in the top-left corner.

Open the Google Play Store and tap the hamburger menu

Tap “My Apps & Games.”

Tap my apps and games

Listed in the library tab will be devices “Not on This Device.” Tap “Install” next to any (or all) of the apps you want to install on your device.

Tap Install next to any app you want to install

Using Third-Party Apps

The best and most reliable method for most users is to use the built-in Google Backup method to transfer your apps and other content. If that option doesn’t work for you, third-party apps are available.

Like the Google Backup method, these will allow you to transfer your apps from one Android device to another. Most of these options are available from the Google Play Store and sometimes preinstalled.

The best and most reliable are those offered by device manufacturers such as LG Mobile Switch, Huawei Backup, and Samsung Smart Switch. There are also other third-party apps, like Helium, but these have a mixed reputation, with users reporting they don’t work as well on certain devices.

Samsung Smart Switch, for instance, will let you transfer apps and your other content from one Samsung device to another. You can do this wirelessly or connect your devices together using a suitable USB cable.

Transferring from iPhone to Android

Android and iOS are two entirely different environments, so it isn’t possible to directly transfer your iPhone apps to an Android device. Many developers offer their apps across both platforms, however, and Google can look for any matching apps for you during the new device setup process.

When you begin setting up a new Android device, rather than choosing to transfer from a Google Drive backup, tap the option to transfer data from your iPhone and then follow the on-screen instructions.

During new Android device setup, choose to restore data from an iPhone device

Samsung device owners can also use the Smart Switch app, which offers its own “Download Matching Apps” option during the transfer process.

Ben Stockton Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton is a freelance tech writer from the United Kingdom. In a past life, he was a UK college lecturer, training teens and adults. Since leaving the classroom, he's been a tech writer, writing how-to articles and tutorials for MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Cloudwards.net. He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.
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