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You might not be familiar with the name Data Restore Tool, but odds are most of our readers have actually seen the app in action before — if not when setting up a new phone for the first time, then occasionally as an aside in our coverage when we cover the topic. It's preinstalled on many (I'd hazard to say most) recent Android phones and handles part of the process that migrates data between your old phone and new one. And almost immediately after teasing a whole new simplified backups system, now Google is bringing the app to the Play Store, and teardowns provide a partial explanation: Google's making a "Switch to Android" iOS app it will work with.
So far as we can tell, the Play Store listing went live sometime between July 19th and 22nd. As it's preinstalled on so many phones, it's already reached over a billion downloads in the last week, and if reviews are anything to go by, folks are confused about its sudden new appearance on the Play Store.
It's also important to point out that this app is different than the Data Transfer Tool that Google rolled out to the Play Store back in 2017, seemingly specific to Pixel devices at the time and partly replacing the even older Data Transfer Tool, last updated in 2017 according to the Play Store listing. The new app dates back at least as far as 2018 according to our records at APK Mirror, and also seems to inherit the app listing images of the Data Transfer Tool.
Testing with a few phones we have on-hand, a version of the Data Restore Tool app is already preinstalled on many devices, including recent Samsung phones. As you'd likely expect, given there's already a separate Pixel-specific app, the most notable omission is that Google's own Pixels don't have it — that is, unless they're running Android 12 (as spotted by 9to5Google). It also won't install on Android 11 Pixels or many other devices that have an older version of the app already installed.
On that note, Google's store is distributing a newer version of the app than we've previously seen. Even Android 12 Beta 3 shipped with a 1.0.375544850 beta release, but the version being pushed on the Play Store is an even more recent 1.0.382048734. We know that first version included some Material You changes to the device setup process, so we assume they're built into this more recent version as well, though quickly playing with the app on non-Material-You Android 11 devices, we didn't notice any easily spotted differences.
Some folk claim they're having trouble launching the new version of the app standalone (i.e., from the Play Store listing), but since that's not really how it's meant to be used, it's probably not a problem. I would expect the new version will function correctly when triggered to set up a new device.
XDA Developers has since done a teardown of the new app, which has revealed a few interesting tidbits, like the fact that this updated app has signs that Google is developing an iOS companion app called Switch to Android to help customers migrating from iPhones to Android devices, in the same vein as Apple's Move to iOS app.
Strings indicate that the app pair will be able to help you transfer your Whatapp chats, though rather than actually make the move on your behalf, it will apparently just point you to using WhatsApp's own upcoming feature for that. Strings also call out SMS message and contact migrations, though things like encryption and corporate managed devices will impair that. Migration methods for other apps may also be coming, though they may be as mundane as pulling down Android equivalents for installed iOS apps.
The timing is also curious in that Google is rolling out a new and more simplified backup system for Android. Cumulatively, it looks like Google might have a whole lot more to announce this fall, perhaps when Android 12 lands to stable or at its Pixel event.
Teardown points to a 'Switch to Android' iOS app coming
The folks at XDA Developers have done a teardown of the new version of the app, revealing some of the reason behind it's move to the Play Store, and a potential iOS companion app. Our coverage has been updated.