WhatsApp users will finally be able to move their entire chat history between mobile operating systems — something that’s been one of the users’ biggest requests to date. Today, the company introduced a feature that will soon become available to users of both iOS and Android devices, allowing them to move their WhatsApp voice notes, photos, and conversations securely between devices when they switch between mobile operating systems.
The company had been rumored to be working on such functionality for some time, but the details of which devices would be initially supported or when they would be released weren’t yet known.
In product leaks, WhatsApp appeared to be working on integrating Android’s built-in transfer app, the Google Data Transfer Tool, which lets users move their files from one Android device to another or switch from iOS to Android.
However, the feature WhatsApp introduced today works with Samsung devices and Samsung’s own transfer tool, known as Smart Switch. Today, Smart Switch helps users transfer contacts, photos, music, messages, notes, calendars, and more to Samsung Galaxy devices. Now, it will transfer WhatsApp chat history, too.
WhatsApp showed off the new tool at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event and announced Samsung’s latest Galaxy foldable devices would get the feature first in the weeks to come. The feature will later roll out to Android more broadly. WhatsApp didn’t say when iOS users would gain access, but a spokesperson for WhatsApp told TechCrunch the team is working to bring the feature to users worldwide.
WhatsApp users will connect their old and new devices via a USB-C to Lightning cable and launch Smart Switch to use the feature. The new phone will prompt you to scan a QR code using your old phone and export your WhatsApp history. To complete the transfer, you’ll sign into WhatsApp on the new device and import the messages.
The company also explained that building such a feature was non-trivial, as messages across its service are end-to-end encrypted by default and stored on users’ devices. That meant the creation of a tool to move chat history between operating systems required additional work from both WhatsApp and operating system and device manufacturers to build it securely, the company said.
“Your WhatsApp messages belong to you. That’s why they are stored on your phone by default and not accessible in the cloud-like many other messaging services,” noted Sandeep Paruchuri, product manager at WhatsApp, in a statement about the launch. “We’re excited for the first time to make it easy for people to securely transfer their WhatsApp history from one operating system to another. This has been one of our most requested features from users for years, and we worked together with operating systems and device manufacturers to solve it,” he added.