Switching from Blackberry to Android: your guide

January 19, 2013

    blackberry

    It’s time, friend. It’s time to drop that Blackberry you’ve got duct-taped together and move up in the world. Android is waiting with open arms, and a plethora of great devices. I’m sure you were with that Blackberry for quite some time, so let’s discuss how you’re going to get acquainted to your new life with Android. It won’t be hard, I promise.

    android world

    Contacts

    You have probably not concerned yourself with switching phones or operating systems for quite some time, so moving those contacts over can be a daunting task. Since you’re moving to Androidville, it’s going to be easy. Google has sent moving trucks to take care of everything! You just sit back and relax, this won’t be hard at all.

    There are a few options, all of them simple. Before you do anything, make sure you have a Gmail account. With Android, once your contacts are in your Gmail account, they will sync to any Android device automatically. If you’ve already got a Gmail account and have your contacts saved in there, all you have to do is log-in to your new Android device using that Gmail account. If you have multiple accounts, sign in with each one and all contacts will sync.

    If you’ve got your contacts saved on the Blackberry, you can always ask the carrier you’re using to switch the contacts for you. They have this silly little machine that they plug both devices into that moves data from one to the other. It isn’t the best method, as they often don’t move everything over, but it may work just fine.

    The best way to go about transferring contacts is with Google Sync. It’s dead simple to use, and transfers your contacts and calendar stuff straight to your new device. Simply log on to m.google.com/sync from your Blackberry mobile browser, then download the app. The video below will walk you through it step by step.

    My apps!

    You’re about to have your mind blown with apps, so be careful. Your head may fly clean off your shoulders once you see how many apps Android has for you. Even if you can’t find exactly what you’ve got on your Blackberry, there is definitely going to be something similar, if not better. Many developers stopped supporting RIM long ago, so the Android app may be an updated version of what you’re used to.

    android smartphones launchers

    If you’ve purchased an app for your Blackberry, you may have to purchase it again. Some of those productivity apps are a bit expensive, so plan on dropping a few bucks. A very popular productivity app, Documents to Go, is $15 on both platforms, so take that into account. On the other hand, Blackberry has more paid apps than Android does, so you may be able to find a similar app or service free, offsetting some of the cost.

    The great equalizer

    When you have Android, you also have a multitude of services from Google. You get all these services free, so there is no need to download a third party app. They come straight from the source, and you can depend on them being supported. All the services Google provides are wonderful, but only really work to their full potential when you take advantage of all of them.

    Google Now

    A relatively new service, Google Now is proof that being invested into the Android OS completely is wildly beneficial. It will keep track of things you don’t think to, like flight info or traffic. It also keeps track of your location, so it knows where you work and will offer to keep track of your commute traffic. It will scan your opened emails for package tracking or flight info, then keep you updated on the status. Forget to check how badly the Clippers beat the Grizzlies last night? Not an issue, because Google Now knows you have searched for Clippers scores previously and now keeps track for you. That restaurant you looked up on Chrome 5 minutes ago? Check with Google Now… directions are waiting.

    nexus 4 google now

    Chrome

    Are you using Chrome as your main browser? If not, you probably should be. Aside from the many other reasons like speed and CPU usage, Chrome will sync to your Android phone. Chrome comes pre-loaded on newer Android phones, so it’s your across-the-board browser. Start reading an article on the desktop and finish on your mobile device; now that’s genius.

    Drive

    Google Drive is your MS Office of sorts. While not as robust a utility as MS Office, Drive is still really good for a lot of things. There are other options like Dropbox or Box that are wonderful at simply keeping your files handy, but Drive steps it up by allowing you to create documents.

    With Google Drive, you can easily create, edit, and Gmail documents. The service is collaborative in real-time, so sharing the document allows for things like notes or edits to occur, even if everyone is in a different place. There are all the functions you have with MS Office, like spreadsheets or presentations, so you won’t miss a beat. Drive is slightly different than MS Office, and take a little getting used to, but remember that the service is free and can be accessed on any device or desktop. You always have your stuff with you, and all those documents you currently have will upload.

    Don’t kill the messenger

    Hey, Blackberry Messenger is a pretty cool thing, I can admit that. It’s used by a lot of people, and maybe you still know a few people who are insistent on going down with the Blackberry ship and won’t ditch their device. Will you still be able to talk to them after you switch? Sure you will! Obviously, you won’t be able to use Blackberry Messenger, but there are two really good messaging apps available on both platforms.

    blackberry-messenger

    First up is Whatsapp, a third party messaging service. Extremely popular, easy to use, and comes with a group chat function. It integrates with your address book, and acts like SMS. A fully customizable app that also holds offline messages for you, so you’re never really out of touch. It’s free for one year, and only $0.99/annually after that.

    Another great messenger is Google Talk, also available on both platforms. While not as robust with the bells and whistles as Whatsapp, it does keep you connected better in different ways. Google Talk can be used on the desktop via Gmail, so you can always message contacts without picking up your phone all the time. You can SMS someone straight from the app as well, making it useful to get hold of those who aren’t using a chat feature. Like all Google services, it’s free to use.

    What about my email?

    The Blackberry was designed as a productivity tool, first and foremost. It kept us connected, it kept us involved, and it kept us communicating. Can Android do the same thing? Yes, it can… and then some. Android is much more than a platform for games or email. Android is a full-fledged productivity platform, designed to pick up where Blackberry has left off.

    In your device you’ll find both a Gmail and Email app. The Gmail is pretty self explanatory, but the email app can be used for your corporate email address. It will ask for some information you may not have, but your company IT guy does. Just email him, though… nobody wants to talk to the IT guy. Once you get it set up, it will act much like your Gmail app.

    Which Android is right for me?

    Well, that’s a tough one. Most Android devices you’re able to buy right now will be running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or better. We always suggest getting the latest, which is Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). The difference between the two is largely negligible, but why not have the best if it’s available, right?

    nexus-4-jelly-bean

    There will be a slight learning curve, as the difference between your Blackberry OS and Android is substantial. It will take time, but don’t fret. Ask questions if you’re not sure how to accomplish something. Make a list of those things you do most often and be sure to have those down before walking out of the store. If you can at least perform your basic functions well, it will make the rest of the experience much easier to pick up.

    I’m stuck!

    You’re going to get stumped, and that’s okay. We all did, and still do, from time to time. There are a few tips you can use to get yourself out of the deep water and back to dry land, so let’s run down a few quick tips. For this exercise, we’ll assume you have an Android phone running Jelly Bean.

    Settings

    The settings menu, and many quick settings often used, can be found at the top of the screen. That little black bar at the top that has icons is meant to be dragged down, so place two fingers on the black bar and drag down. The settings menu should pop up, but if it didn’t… don’t stress. Just select the icon to the top right (the one that looks like a little man surrounded by squares) once the menu is pulled down, and it will come up. From there, you have a few option from which to choose. If there is something you’d like to change about your phone, it’s probably there. If not, simply select “Settings” and navigate through those menus to get what you need.

    android customize settings

    Long press

    Sometimes you look at an option or icon, and know what you want it to do… it just doesn’t seem to read minds. Well, it reads touch, that’s for sure! When it seems like you should have more options than you do, simply press the icon and hold. If more options are available, a new menu will pop up. This is also how you move icons around. If you want to delete an app, you navigate to the app drawer (that little button at the bottom center of the screen) and long press it. A few options will appear at the top of the screen, and you can either delete it or find out more about it.

    Appearance

    You want things a certain way, I get it. Android is wonderfully customizable that way. Using the long press from the app drawer, the chosen app will appear floating over the home screen with those two options mentioned previously. If you want it on your home screen, just find the spot you want to drop it, and let go. If you want it on another screen, just slide it over to that screen and let go of it. If you have apps you’d like to group together, just place one app over the next and it will create a folder. You can rename the folder, and add more apps until the popup menu for that folder fills the screen.

    android devices live wallpapers smartphone tablet

    Widgets!

    Widgets are a great way to quickly see and access things like your calendar or email. Many widgets can be resized to fit your screen as you like, making organizing your device properly easy. You can also use many widgets on the lock screen to access information even faster. From the lock screen, simply swipe left and you’ll see a plus button. Select it, and a list of available widgets will pop up. Once you select a widget, it will be there until you move it. Swiping right from the lock screen brings up the camera function, so no widgets can be placed by swiping right.

    android widgets devices

    Conclusion

    It will take some getting used to, but you made the right choice. The mobile landscape ran away from Blackberry, and there is little hope of it catching up. Sure, the BB10 is coming soon, but Blackberry has lost too much ground to really be thought of as a viable contender. If you get stuck beyond what we’ve discussed here, get online and poke around. Social media is a wonderful place to get answers, and Google+ comes loaded on your device. The world is here to help, and Android is here to keep you connected.

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    Comments

    • Harry

      Didn’t Google already disable the Google Sync service?

    • rcraig

      I’m on metropcs with a blackberry atm i’m trying to save up to get the galaxy s3. But i do have an android tablet.

      • charlie2010

        Save up for BB10 instead, galaxy s3 is already dated, it is really only in iPhones league, can’t comptete with modern OS’s anymore like BB10 and even Windows phones..

        • blind

          Yeah, Android can’t compete with Blackberry. OKAY.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Fezziwig/644811936 Paul Fezziwig

            Thats BB10 I was referring to…you are aware of this aren’t you?

            • swannanoa72

              Paul, if you are of the opinion that android cannot compete with the bb, then why are you visiting androidauthority at all??? 95% of the worlds population DO NOT run 9 apps at the same time on their phone, nor do they require corporate level security for their devices. So you are talking for the 5% who will spend time and money for these selective interests. As for the sync issue Android can very well sync to all mail servers, exchange included. You don’t know about this.

        • Sayo

          Android is dated? Interesting…

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Fezziwig/644811936 Paul Fezziwig

            No major improvement lately and none slated for the future, gradually minor improvements is all Android can do…..good luck trying to create Blackberry Balance or running 9 apps at the same time in Android, not possible.
            Android will likely try and emulate Blackberry Hub and try for more gesture based navigating, the old home buttons are on their way out, either way they’ll just be playing catch up from here on in, just like iPhone.

    • melody

      you forgot about security. please add that section too.
      for some people, blackberry is about security. not about bbm or fancy graphics.

      for those that trust blackberry fips security certification, there’s also some android device that have fips certification. I forget the exact device, but I think it’s certain motorola & samsung galaxy phone /tablet.

      for those who like to encrypt their blackberry, android also support device encryption since ver 4 (ICS). but not all manufacturer utilize that.
      for ex. xperia S ICS didn’t has device encryption setting, but htc desire x and sgs3 has that.

      .
      you can also encrypt sdcard contents in ics, although not as good as blackberry.
      in blackberry, you encrypt per file, so filesystem still accessible from pc or other device, but file contents is unreadable.
      in ics, you encrypt entire sdcard, so you can’t open encrypted sdcard from different device, filesystem is inaccessible.

      the bad thing with ics sdcard encryption is, if certain part of your encrypted sdcard get corrupt, then the entire sdcard is enaccessible. you have to reformat.
      in bb sdcard, only corrupted file that inaccessible. other files & filesystem should not affected.

    • Oquendof

      Nice, I used to have a Blackberry 8900,now I have an s3, love it!

    • charlie2010

      I misread the title, thought it said ‘How to switch from Android to BB10′, seems more appropriate these days dont you think?
      These monolithic malware infested OS’s can’t compete with the microkernal architecture of QNX. Android had a great 5 year run but its now time for the next generation of smartphone OS’s.
      Good luck trying to achieve Blackberry Balance security levels with Android….ain’t gonna happen. No IT andminsitrator in their right mind would suggest Android for security reasons over Blackberry Balance and Mobile Fusion servers.

      • firestormik

        Thank you, but no IT administartor whants to deal with BlackBerry BES server unless you want to make it full time job dealing with their customer support.

        • Tony P

          BES10.1 works extremely well and manages BB, iOS, and Android devices…

    • blind

      One thing I like to tell people, (you may consider it covered under your ‘apps’ section) is that almost everything is customizable. This may sound like it’s for the power-user only. It’s not. Don’t like the way your keyboard operates? Download a new one. Don’t like the way the text messaging app is? Don’t like the way the email client looks? Get a new one from the Play Store. Get a phone that adapts to you and stop adapting to your phone.

    • BB user

      Still the the android is less secure than the BlackBerry. BB OS10 is ready to beat the android.

    • omy

      BB10 is an eventual attempt to save a dying company by building on existing interfaces. however well BB tries to emulate android or ios thru its BB10 os, fact remains that the USP of blackberry has been bbm, for which people buy it. this service being obsolete and with cheaper alternatives available, like whatsapp, its again gonna fail. dont think anyone but hardcore bb fanatics would go for it.

    • george

      i thought BB would just be for business but i see now that they are going after the consumer market with multiple phone at $149 on contract. when you think about how fast Android drains your battery and and the issues with hardware quality, i think BB10 deserves serious consideration…

    • Tony P

      Where’s the article switching from Android to BB10? Maybe over at Crackberry.com

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