iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User: Out Of the Box Experience, Setup
By on April 28th, 2012


For an introduction and background to this series, please refer to my first post on the topic: New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User.

As someone who has switched (and reset) Windows Phones quite a bit, for one reason or the other, I know how painful it is to get the phone to “my state”. Yes, entering my Windows Live ID and setting up Facebook account sets up a ton of stuff automatically (Contacts, Calendars, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pictures) but there are still a lot of personalization items which I have to repeat every single time. Here is what I have to do every time I set up a new Windows Phone, after setting up my “accounts”:

  • Reinstall all my apps. It is a bit easier now with web marketplace and apps like Reinstaller, but I still have to manually reinstall each app.
  • Customize each app with login information, settings for the app, etc.
  • Set up my live tiles for various apps. Some apps offer secondary tiles (like “Sports News” in a newspaper app, for example), so these have to be manually set up.
  • De-dupe contacts across Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. This seems like a bit of functionality which was left off for lack of time. On Windows Live website, these contacts are in fact de-duped, but on the phone, they are not. So I have to go in and clean up manually.
  • Create my People Groups and pin them to Start Screen. I like this feature a lot, so I do like to create three groups: immediate family, cousins, and close friends. That way, I see the updates from these groups bubble up over all the other noise. There’s no way to save these Groups in the cloud so they automatically come when I sign in.
  • Adjust system settings like letting Bing use location services, my Office username, etc.
  • I don’t play many games, but if I did, almost none of the games save their states in the cloud, so all game progress gets lost when moving phones.
  • Connect to PC to set up wireless sync (and check if there are any updates available for the phone).

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done after signing into various accounts to set up a new phone. How does it go with iPhone? Read on!

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.

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Author: Romit Mehta Google Profile for Romit Mehta
Romit writes about mobile news and gadgets, and is currently a Windows Phone owner (Nokia Lumia 920). Find him on twitter @TheRomit. Personal site is http://romitmehta.com.

Romit Mehta has written and can be contacted at romit@techie-buzz.com.

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