WhatsApp to allow chat history transfers between iOS and Android

Technology

WhatsApp is adding the ability to bring your chat history with you when you switch from iOS to Android — including all voice notes, photos, and conversations. The long-rumored feature was announced during Samsung’s launch event today and will initially cover transfers from iOS to the company’s new Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 and other Samsung phones “in the coming weeks.” Eventually, the feature will cover all transfers between iOS and Android phones, though it’s unclear when it’ll be available for all devices.

The new feature should help address one of WhatsApp’s most frustrating elements, which is that it’s never been officially possible to transfer your chat history between mobile operating systems. If you choose to use WhatsApp’s cloud backup feature, then iOS chat histories are stored in iCloud, while Android’s are in Google Drive, meaning it’s only possible to transfer your chats between phones running the same operating system.

The new feature transfers chat histories using a physical Lightning to USB-C cable rather than sending them via the internet. Unfortunately, if you’ve transferred between iOS and Android in the past and have two separate cloud backups, the new transfer feature won’t merge them together into a single chat history. Instead, WhatsApp tells me that if you use it to migrate your chat history and then back it up, it’ll overwrite any existing backups.

WhatsApp says the new feature will allow transfers from iOS to Samsung’s new foldables at first, and it will allow transfers to Samsung devices running Android 10 and up “in the coming weeks.” It declined to say when the feature might arrive for non-Samsung Android phones or when it’ll allow Android to iOS transfers.