iPhone X setup shows Apple’s core brilliance

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automatic setup
In iOS 11, you won't need to remember anything when you get a new iPhone.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

I used to think setting up a new iPhone was easy, but the iPhone X takes it to the next level.

On Friday, I got the new iPhone X and have been using it all weekend. The setup process was the easiest ever, and speaks to Apple’s constant drive to make things better.

Normally I set up a new I Phone “as new.” It gives me a chance to clear out apps that I never use. But setting up as new can be a huge pain. It requires re-downloading all your apps, and laboriously cutting/pasting dozens of inscrutable passwords from 1Password (the password-management software I use).

Nonetheless, it’s become a habit because I’ve been burned in the past. During previous upgrades, it took forever to suck everything down from iCloud. Sometimes the process failed altogether. It just seems easier and cleaner to start from scratch.

So when I unboxed the iPhone X, I had every intention of starting fresh. But up popped a dialog box asking if I wanted to transfer all the settings from my old phone using iOS 11’s new Automatic Setup feature.

iPhone X setup: Going full auto

Automatic Setup signs you into iCloud, Keychain, iTunes, the App Store, iMessage and FaceTime using your Apple ID, according to Apple. It also takes care of device settings like language, region, network, keyboard preferences, Siri and Home and health data.

The setup is reminiscent of setting up a new Apple Watch, but even easier. I just held my phones close together and initiated the process by pointing the X’s camera at my old phone. The old phone displayed a glowing orb of shiny blue dust, and the pairing began.

It’s as simple as the setup process for the new Apple TV 4K, which likewise sucks in all your passwords and login IDs from a nearby device (after authentication, of course).

I encountered only a couple of minor hiccups. My old phone asked for its iCloud backup to be updated — which only took a few minutes. Then the iPhone X asked to be updated to the latest version, iOS 11.1. My old phone was running iOS 11.1 but the X was running plain old iOS 11. Updating the new phone took a little longer — 15 minutes or so.

Express Settings simplifies iPhone setup

Another change in iOS 11 setup is streamlining all the tedious questions the phone asks you before you get to the home screen. Apple consolidated all of them into a single new screen called Express Settings. This enables default settings for location, analytics and Find My iPhone. You can now enable them all at once.

It’s a smart move. You can always dig into System Settings and change things later, but it turns on important settings like automatic backups.

Then it took about 15 or 20 minutes for the X to re-download all my apps.

Overall, it was the easiest, most painless setup of a new iDevice I’ve encountered. This kind of thoughtful, user-centric thinking made Apple famous. I’m glad to see the tradition going strong.

Get iPhone X setup tips

Want more info on setting up iPhone X? Read Cult of Mac’s how-to: Set up your new iPhone X the right way.

  • Jim Tignor

    The good news is that this amazing functionality works on any iDevice that runs the newest OS. I used it with an iPad Air, and my 8+.

  • DCJ001

    “and laboriously cutting/pasting dozens of inscrutable passwords from 1Password”

    You removed your passwords from 1Password by cutting them?

    Why did you not copy them?

  • pjs_socal

    With the new “Accounts and Passwords” feature of iOS 11, it is no longer necessary to use a 3rd party password manager.

    No more copying and pasting from 1Password!

    Just enable iCloud Keychain and Safari Autofill.

    Now, all of your usernames and passwords are available via iCloud and tightly integrated into Safari as well as 3rd party apps.

    With the iPhone X, it works even better. The system incorporates Face ID to authenticate then loads usernames and passwords automagically.

    “It Just Works”(tm)!

    • RP

      I agree! That is one of the biggest surprises I’ve encountered with the X. iOS 11 and FaceID make UserID and PW management seamless… seems to work everywhere and much better that iOS 11 on my 7+. I’ll still use 1Password for cross platform management… now if iCloud Keychain and 1Password could sync up that would be g-r-r-r-r-reat!

      • pjs_socal

        I’m all-in with Apple products so cross platform integration with non-Apple stuff isn’t something I really think about.

        That said, it would be cool if apps like 1Password could use Face ID to integrate with the iOS password management system. Maybe similar to the way the new ‘Files’ app supports 3rd party cloud storage services, the iOS password service could link into external password databases.

        I think the chances of this are small since the tight integration between Apple devices is a major selling point, but one can still hope…

  • Glenn Gore

    I always sync my iPhone with iTunes on my iMac and keep an encrypted backup on the iMac. So when I got my new iPhone X Monday it was a really simple matter to restore from that backup. First, though, I had to set up the device as a new phone because the encrypted backup was done on an iPhone 7 that had iOS 11.1 on it, while the iPhone X ships with just iOS 11. But once I updated it to 11.1, I connected it to my iMac and started the restore from backup and 1 1/2 hours later had all my apps, settings, logins and passwords on the X. All except the Amazon logins. The main factor is to do an ENCRYPTED backup of your device, because it will contain all your logins, whereas an unencrypted backup will not.

    • pjs_socal

      You should enable iCloud services and iCloud backup.

      Once you get all your Apple services working across your macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and iOS devices, it takes Apple goodness to another level!

  • Bikram Suwal

    I always sync my iPhone with iTunes on my iMac and keep an encrypted backup on the iMac. So when I got my new iPhone X Monday it was a really simple matter to restore from that backup. First, though, I had to set up the device as a new phone because the encrypted backup was done on an iPhone 7 that had iOS 11.1 on it, while the iPhone X ships with just iOS 11. But once I updated it to 11.1, I connected it to my iMac and started the restore from backup and 1 1/2 hours later had all my apps, settings, logins and passwords on the X. All except the Amazon logins. The main factor is to do an ENCRYPTED backup of your device, because it will contain all your logins, whereas an unencrypted backup will not.