Well, there are two scenarios – if you are setting it up for the first time ever, or if you are moving between iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch). If it is the former, the setup experience allows you to truly set up the iPhone without connecting to a PC. This is huge by itself, but the “magic” happens when you are changing devices. If you have set up your existing (or old) device to back up to the cloud via iCloud, you will be prompted to restore from that backup. I had two iPad backups and one iPod Touch backup that I could restore from. I chose the iPod Touch backup because I figured I had apps there which were “iPhone-only” apps, so it is more appropriate.
After about 20 minutes (since I didn’t store any music, photos or videos on my iPod Touch), the restore was complete and to my utterly pleasant surprise, every single aspect of my iPod Touch was brought over, including:
- All my apps.
- All my settings (including browser history, cookies, etc.).
- All my accounts. For example, my twitter account was already set up and ready to go.
- All my folders and placement of the folders.
It is truly incredible how well the backup and restore works. Remember, I have not connected to a PC at all! Also, I restored from a backup of a different device than the one I restored to, and it was smart enough to let the “Phone”, “Compass”, etc. remain as-is, as opposed to overwriting the entire system. Windows Phone could really, really benefit from such a thing. There were times when I wanted to try a new phone, but I resisted it because I did not want to go through the pain of transferring the stuff over.
Clearly, the iPhone setup experience is far, far superior to Windows Phone’s. I really hope Windows Phone 8, with its rumored Windows 8-based kernel, gets such a thing. We know that Windows 8 allows syncing settings across PCs, so it should be relatively easy to implement the same feature for phones. The only concern at the moment (and I know it is only a preview so far) is that Windows 8 does not actually restore apps and Start Screen settings. That would be a bummer because as we add more apps to our phones and devices, we need the organization to stick with our account and not be restricted to a device.
What are your thoughts? Do you see any other improvements to Windows Phone that can help? Should I have done something else to make my Windows Phone experience better? I love how iPhone/iOS does it, and will miss it when I switch back to Windows Phone.