Apple planning iOS to Android escape app
Latest rumour suggests a complete breakaway from the lock-in practices the company has become known for
Update: Apple has since refuted these rumours in a statement to BuzzFeed.
Apple is reportedly developing a tool to help users move content such as music, contacts and photos over to rival Android devices.
The move comes after pressure from mobile operators, who feel the company's dominance in the sector is being fuelled by software constraints that trap users from moving away.
"The operators fear that the lack of switching weakens their hand in commercial negotiations with Apple, which holds the mobile industry’s strongest card in the iPhone" reports the Telegraph.
Apple's data lock means customers tend to upgrade to another iPhone when the time comes, placing the company in a strong position for negotiations because operators have to keep stocking iOS devices.
Citing a senior industry source, The Telegraph says Apple has privately agreed to develop the tool due to concerns from "major European telecoms operators" that very few people defect from the iPhone.
The development of the switching tool would represent a huge change in the company's philosophy. Apple has long been noted for its practices, which lock users in to their products. Their late founder Steve Jobs once wrote that they should "further lock customers into our ecosystem" in an email revealed during a court case with Samsung.
While mobile network operators complain that Apple's practices mean they have no bargaining chip, the situation is the reverse when it comes to Android devices. A strong range of phones running the software, combined with its open nature, means operators can bargain better deals with manufacturers, says Forbes.
They also write about the justifications for such a tool, considering it goes against what has previously been said about Apple's motivations and business model.
It could be seen as an "easy PR victory" for a company keen to spin an image of customer service and working in the best interests of consumers. Potential iPhone adopters could try one out, safe in the knowledge that a return to an Android phone is easy. Apple could also be confident that keeping the back door out of their ecosystem open won't see an exodus away from the iPhone, especially considering the number of users moving from Android devices to iOS has never been higher.
"If Apple was to release this application in the future, I would see it as a very proactive move from Cupertino," writes Ewan Spence.
9 to 5 Mac highlights how Apple released an iOS app in September 2015 allowing Android users to easily make the move to their products. A similar tool, going in the opposite direction, will be something cooked up out of fear of legal action rather than the "goodness of their hearts", says the website.