iPhone and iPad

Escaping the iCloud: Leaving Apple’s Ecosystem Behind

Christian Cawley 13-07-2015

You’ve decided to move on from iOS. Perhaps it was the price of apps; perhaps your iPad or iPhone is simply too old, and the cost of upgrading is too great when you can get an Android device for much less. Perhaps you fell out of love with Apple Goodbye, Apple Fanboys: Is The Internet Falling Out Of Love With Cupertino? Recent headlines make us wonder: is Apple finally losing its sheen? Are the fanboys disappearing? Read More .


But there is a problem: you have invested in iOS. Your data is tied up in iCloud, your email in your Apple email account. In short: things are a bit of a mess.

How are you going to escape the iCloud and make your data ecosystem-independent?

It Doesn’t Matter Where You’re Going

One reassuring aspect of what you’re about to do with your data is that its final destination is largely irrelevant. Whereas a few years ago you might have needed to mess around with converters and USB cables to migrate data like contacts from your iOS device to another platform, these days the three main mobile operating systems are equipped with the tools to ensure an easy sync.


Meanwhile, data is best placed in a preferred cloud storage system independent of iCloud, enabling access and syncronization from your new mobile device.


As a general rule, if you’re moving to Windows Phone you should make sure you have signed up for a OneDrive account; this comes with a new Microsoft user account, although you may have to activate it before using. With this, you’ll gain 15 GB of storage space for your data How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage OneDrive gives you a healthy dose of cloud storage for free. Let's take a look at what you can do with that. Read More , and the same again for your photos.

Similarly, users planning to move to Android are best advised to use Google Drive, with its 15 GB of space. These suggestions are just a rule of thumb, however – you might as easily rely on Dropbox, which works well on both Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

Sorting Out Your Contacts

Apple provides a manual contact sharing button in iOS, but this is largely useless (Contacts > Contact Name > Share Contact) as it can only be done one contact at a time, via email or SMS. More than 10 contacts? You’re going to be busy.

Escaping the iCloud: Leaving Apple's Ecosystem Behind muo ios migrate from ios contacts


A quicker option is to visit iCloud.com on your desktop computer and sign in. Click Contacts to view the list of contacts and select those you wish to export. In the lower left click the cog wheel and select Export vCard.

The downloaded VCF file can then be imported into Google Contacts from the Gmail page in your browser (use the Import Contacts button to open the dialogue). You can also drop the VCF file in the /sdcard directory on an Android device, then use the Contacts app: tap Import/Export Contacts > Import From Storage.

Escaping the iCloud: Leaving Apple's Ecosystem Behind muo ios migrate from ios export

Other options are available, such as syncing via iTunes. For this to work, first disable over the air syncing of Contacts in the Settings > iCloud screen on your iOS device. Next, launch iTunes and connect your iOS device, then open the summary page. Select Info and check Sync contacts with, selecting your preferred contacts type (Windows, Outlook, Google) in the drop down menu.


Input your credentials if necessary, then hit Apply to sync. Your contacts will be synced to the chosen account, and will be available on any new Android device setup with the same account credentials.

Contacts stored as VCF (or even in CSV format if you use a third party contacts manager to export your contacts) can be imported to pretty much any platform. But Google is probably the magic sauce when it comes to contacts, as any device that accommodates a Google account (anything from Windows Phone to Firefox OS, which even has apps Top 15 Firefox OS Apps: The Ultimate List For New Firefox OS Users Of course there is an app for that: It's web technology after all. Mozilla's mobile operating system Firefox OS that, instead of native code, uses HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript for its apps. Read More ) will be able to import contacts from that account.

Migrating Email

What about email? Happily there is no need to do anything with cloud accounts or USB cables of varying designs What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More here. Android and Windows Phone both support @icloud.com email accounts, as with any IMAP or POP3 account IMAP vs. POP3: What Is It and Which One Should You Use? If you have ever set up an email client or app, you will have certainly come across the terms POP and IMAP. Do you remember which one you chose and why? If you are not... Read More . Android users will need to stick to the stock Email app rather than the Gmail app, but with the correct settings added, you’ll be able to view your @icloud.com email account and send and receive messages.

For this to work, use the following settings.

  • IMAP server: imap.mail.me.com
  • Username is the name part of your @icloud.com address (without the @icloud.com bit)
  • Password should be your Apple ID password
  • Use SSL. If you’re having connection issues choose SSL (accept all certificates) with 993 as the port
  • SMTP server: smtp.mail.me.com (username and password as above)
  • Use SSL or TLS (accept all certificates) with port 587.
  • Agree to SMTP authentication if the option is displayed.

That should setup iCloud email on your non-Apple phone.

Don’t Forget Your Calendar!

Migrating your calendar from iOS is also simple. Begin by logging into iCloud.com and opening the Calendar page. To export a calendar, click Share Calendar and check the Public Calendar box that appears.

Escaping the iCloud: Leaving Apple's Ecosystem Behind muo ios migrate from ios calendar

A URL will appear below it, beginning webcal://. Copy the URL into a new browser tab or window, but do not open the page. Instead, change webcal:// to http:// and tap Enter. The calendar file will download to your computer.

To import this into a new Android device, open Google.com/calendar on your desktop and using the same account credentials you will be using on Android, find the Other Calendars menu. Click the down arrow, then Import Calendar and browse for the previously downloaded file to import. With the correct calendar destination for this file selected, click Import.

Get Your Music Files Out of iTunes

Music on your iPhone that is usually enjoyed through iTunes can be easily copied to a new device. With your new phone connected via USB as a storage device, simply open to view the Music folder and then in a new file explorer open the location for your iTunes library (on Mac OS X go to Go > Home > Music > iTunes; on Windows this is found in This PC > Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Music). All you need to do now is copy the files from iTunes to your new mobile device.

Rather than sync using a USB cable you can also use Google Play Music as a music-focused cloud option. Find the iTunes files on your computer, then in your browser go to Google Music and click the menu icon in the top-left. In the resulting menu look for Add music, and then drag and drop the files from your file browser.

Migrating Your Vital Data from iCloud

With the day-to-day stuff sorted, you only have your personal data to migrate. We’re talking here about things like photos, videos, saved email attachments and any files that you might have been working on.

Naturally these live in Apple’s online storage medium iCloud. But how do you get them out?

We mentioned Google Drive and OneDrive above, and by all means use these options, installing the corresponding app on your iPhone or iPad to sync the data from your device to the cloud that suits your future mobile ecosystem.

Escaping the iCloud: Leaving Apple's Ecosystem Behind muo ios migrate from ios dropbox

But the best results are really with Dropbox, which we previously described as one of the must-have apps for iPhone Dropbox - One Of The Must-Have Apps If You Own An iPhone Ever since I went over to the Dark Side earlier this year to get my cookies and buy an iPhone, one app has been completely invaluable to me - Dropbox. In fact, I would go... Read More . Once installed (on your iPhone), the app automatically detects photos and videos and asks if it should sync them.

You can also set other files to sync to Dropbox by uploading them to the cloud storage. By the time you’re done, everything should be synced (you can check at Dropbox.com) and ready to sync to your new device by downloading the Dropbox app and logging in.

So, you’re done. All of the data is migrated from your iOS device, ready for you to access at your convenience on a mobile device running a different operating system.

How did it go? Let us know if you have any questions.

Image Credits: man run via Shutterstock

Related topics: Cloud Computing, exclude_ios, iCloud.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Malcolm
    January 10, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    What if I’m trying to keep my same phone but get all of my data like photos and videos onto my laptop and then hardrive

  2. Anonymous
    July 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Doubletwist (possibly plus the paid Airtwist addon) exists in large part to be middleware for taking music out of itunes and in to something that doesn't suck. It seems to maintain the same itunes focus on playlists as units of transfer and it imports itunes data automatically on the personal computer side of things.

    • Christian Cawley
      July 15, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Nice suggestion, I'll take a look at that.