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“Switch to Windows Phone” for Android

Microsoft today released a new app designed to make it easier for Android users to make the leap to Windows Phone. OK, this probably won’t end up being the most-used Android app in history. But it is an interesting attempt by Microsoft to chip away at Google’s lead in the smartphone market. So consider us pioneers for trying it out as soon as we could.

The companion app for Windows Phone

The “Switch to Windows Phone” Android app, available for download here, assumes that the Android user is switching to Windows Phone or at least contemplating a change. It scans the Android device to detect the user’s apps, then uses the app search engine Quixey to generate a list of Windows Phone apps that match or approximate them.

That list is synced to the user’s Microsoft account, where it can be accessed by a companion Windows Phone app that lets the user quickly select apps to download to their new Microsoft-powered devices.

The process worked smoothly in our initial tests at GeekWire HQ this afternoon. The Android app was able to “match” 85 percent of the apps installed on my colleague Taylor Soper’s phone. After saving the list to my Microsoft account, I was able to quickly access the list on my Windows Phone, and easily download any of the apps to my device.

I put “match” in quotes because in many cases the app was delivering approximations of the Android apps, not exact matches. One way Microsoft could improve the system is by noting, in the list of Windows Phone apps, which Android app the alternative app is purporting to “match.”

But overall, it’s a nice tool that will come in handy for whatever percentage of the Android population decides to switch to Windows Phone.

Plans for the app first surfaced last week. It’s part of a broader effort by Microsoft to be aggressive in its marketing vs. Android and iOS, as also evidenced by the release of a new Windows Phone ad this week poking fun at Android and iPhone users.

There’s no indication of any plans by Microsoft for an iPhone version of this app. No doubt Microsoft would have a much tougher time getting this into the Apple iOS App Store than it did into the Google Play Android store.

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