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iPad Setup Still Difficult for First Time Users



We like to talk about how good the out of box experience that comes with Apple products like the iPad and the iPhone, but this past weekend I found out just how daunting the initial setup can be for first time users.

For her 78th birthday my Grandma received an iPad 2. This is her first computer, and a new experience. Complicating the setup process was the fact that she didn’t have an email address to use for creating an Apple ID.

Thankfully I was around to help her through the process, but it highlights an issue that is hard for Apple to get around, and surprisingly, one that Android does better.

iOS setup

The iPad setup process assumes that you either have an Apple ID already, or that you have an email address which you can use to create an Apple ID. If you don’t have an email address, you need to create one before you can make purchases on the iPad. While my grandmother is in the minority here, Android tablets and phones simplify this process by asking users to sign up for a Gmail account if they don’t have one. Thankfully you can skip the Apple ID signup to go create an email address.

This account gives them an email address, acts as their account to purchase apps, books, movies and music — which is nice. Also, users don’t need to remember a separate password that will allow them to make purchases.

After getting my Grandma set up with her own Gmail address, we created an Apple ID with another password for her to remember. I showed her how to do a few things and let her explore. A few minutes later, we were asked to sign up for Game Center, something that will happen in many apps until you do sign up. Here, we needed to come up with a nickname to use.

So far, Grandma seems to be doing pretty good with her iPad, and we have another training session set up for Christmas. If you plan to give someone an iPad this holiday season, and they are a first time computer user, I highly suggest setting aside a few hours to show them around the device.

The iPad is still less intimidating than a computer, but this experience highlighted issues with getting someone up and running on the iPad.

Once you get past the initial setup screens, here are my tips on iPad 2 Setup and Security.



  1. Josh Baltzell

    12/20/2011 at 10:55 am

    I’m looking forward to hearing how she does with the iPad. I am considering getting one for my grandparents to make video conferencing really easy.

  2. Michael Anderson

    12/20/2011 at 11:12 am

    Josh – assuming all roads lead through GMail is a very biased approach.  Android is only easier if you WANT a Google centric approach.  If you are getting an Apple product, why wouldn’t you have signed up for the free Apple email account?  Then it is just as easy, everything ties in together and you are all set.

  3. Agood Son

    12/20/2011 at 11:26 am

    Helping an elderly Mom is a child’s duty, good for you. Most elderly people have little experience with technology that younger folk take for granted. I bought my 84 yr old Mom a new microwave, she lacked the hand strength to work the touchpad, and had a hard time opening the door. I don’t think getting an Android microwave would have helped. I ended up finding one with an analog “wind up” timer and a weak door.
    Good luck to you, patience is a virtue!

  4. Ladyvolsfan52

    01/04/2012 at 12:01 pm

    It allows you to create an Apple ID. The button is shown in the picture you used in your article.

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