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This is the new automatic setup assistant in Android 5.0 Lollipop

A brand new look and dramatically improved restore options await you in Lollipop

With the release of new Android 5.0 Lollipop preview images, we're getting a much clearer picture of how the new OS will look and act on devices. After the initial preview images came out with a completely unfinished design, we now have a good look at something closer to a finished product. The first thing you'll notice when booting up a Lollipop device is the new setup process, which has been cleaned up, streamlined and improved coming from KitKat.

It also includes dramatically better controls for restoring data from other devices, which is a welcomed addition for those who switch devices often. We're going to walk through the new design and features of the setup process in Android 5.0 Lollipop — hang on for the ride.

1. Tap & Go automatic restore with NFC

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Tap & Go setup

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Tap & Go setup

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Tap & Go setup

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Tap & Go setup

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Tap & Go setup on phone

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Tap & Go setup on phone

The big new feature, aside from the design overhaul, in the setup process on Lollipop is "Tap & Go" setup. Tap & Go, as you may draw from the name, lets you tap your new device to your old device and transfer over content. It uses NFC to initiate the pairing of a Bluetooth connection between the devices, and then hands your account details from one device to the other.

In the case of tapping a Nexus 5 to a fresh new Nexus 7, after selecting "Tap & Go" and putting the two devices together the new Nexus 7 automatically displays your Google Account and simply prompts you to sign in with your password. Interesting to note is that it bypasses the need for a two-step verification code, if you have it enabled. After putting in your password, the rest of the device's setup process is skipped through completely, and you're taken to the homescreen where you'll see all of your apps begin downloading automatically.

The apps are downloading using Google's standard system, nothing new, so of course apps that don't support cloud save of progress/data won't be brought over. Meaning you'll still be signing into most apps manually after they download.

If you use Google Now launcher on your old device, it will even copy over your homescreen layout of apps, folders and widgets. The apps and widgets that have yet to be downloaded will show up greyed out and you'll see them fill up with color and a progress bar as they're downloaded and installed. You'll also be automatically "opted in" to Google Now if you had turned it on on your old device. It's a surprisingly elegant solution, and it really feels like magic particularly when you see the homescreen auto-populate the way you want it.

It isn't entirely clear how widely supported this feature is, but in our case everything went without a hitch between the two Nexus devices we have here, even though one was running KitKat and the other Lollipop.

2. Manual restore

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Manual Sync Setup

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Manual Sync Setup

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Manual Sync Setup

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Manual Sync Setup

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Manual Sync Setup

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Manual Sync Setup

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Manual Sync Setup

Say you don't have NFC on your old device, or don't have it handy — well you're in luck, as Google has improved the standard cloud-based restoration option in Lollipop as well. After skipping past the Tap & Go option, you'll instead get a more standard setup process where you'll enter your Google Account, password and 2-step verification code if necessary.

Then here's where things get interesting — you can choose which device you want to restore from and choose which apps from that device to install. By default the setup process will choose your most-recently-used device (tablet when setting up a tablet, phone for a phone) and include all of the apps on that device. You can tap the drop-down menu to choose between any active device that has your Google account on it, and then tap another drop-down and select which apps from that device you want to install.

You'll then see a standard screen where you choose whether to use Google's backup services for the new device, and a location services opt-in, and then you're good to go. You'll be dropped in the homescreens once again where your device will start to restore data from the cloud. The apps you chose will be installed, and settings will be restored where possible. You don't get the Google Now Launcher homescreen layout restore like you do with Tap & Go, nor do you get automatically opted-in to Google Now, but that's not hard to do on your own.

3. Fresh setup

Fresh setup

Naturally, you always have the option of doing a fresh setup with no restored data. In this case you go through the entire setup process manually, and when you have the option to restore from a specific device you tap the drop-down and select "Set up as new device." You'll still have your Google Account added, but no apps will download automatically.

It's about time!

Considering how poorly implemented and ugly the previous automatic restore options were in previous versions of Android, the way Lollipop handles it is a breath of fresh air. Not to mention how much it'll help those of us who switch devices several times a month. As soon as you get your hands on Android 5.0, you'll be able to experience this great new setup assistant, too — we can't wait until it's the norm on all devices.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

52 Comments
  • is fresh set up the best way to go to avoid conflicts and bugs?
  • probably but if you have the same version of app on both device it shouldn't be a problem for the most part
  • The apps are pulled from the Play Store, I would assume, not the other tablet. You wouldn't have any conflicts or bugs.
  • Surely. Any kind of restore can bring in bugs, but it's that tradeoff between convenience and stability.
  • i was thinking in terms of migrating from Nexus 5 KitKat to Nexus 6 Lollipop - two different devices, two different OS versions could unleash the Gremlins. i'll probably do a fresh reinstall/resync of data and Apps. Nova Launcher, Fancy Widgets, and Calendar Status all have backup files which will make a fresh start easier in addition to Dropbox and Gmail.
  • Someone must have a Lollypop device! :)
    I go back and forth on the option. Sometimes I like a clean set up as a way to get rid of a lot of stuff I don't use , That takes time so I guess I have to decide what I want.
  • Typically I am one to just fresh it up. Usually I should have cleaned up my old device by the time a new one becomes available and this is my chance to start from scratch and set things up. But I can see how this could be very nice for a good portion of individuals.
  • HOLY AWESOME.
  • Andrew does it copy over our Web page shortcuts...? I have a lot of them. My guess is it doesn't. Posted via Serenity
  • You mean Chrome shortcuts pinned to the homescreens? I don't have any... I could test if I reset this Nexus 7 (for the 5th time today), and let you know.
  • My experience from setting up both the dev-preview and the clean factory image is that it does indeed pull in web page shortcuts. it also pull in wallpaper, widgets etc. Don't know how it handles doing it from different devices though.
  • I assume you must have selected the Backup and Restore options on the "old" device for this to work since it seems to be cloud based, or will it also do the transfer locally between the two devices via NFC/BT, like Motorola Migrate? (I know that only transfers pics and texts, but similar idea.)
  • A barcode scanner option, like migrate has, would be cool if both devices don't have NFC.
  • The only thing that goes over NFC/Bluetooth is your preferences for setup and your Google Account, the rest goes over the cloud.
  • Looking good cannot wait for official roll out tempted to install preview but with offical release coming out soon I think I'll wait Posted via the Android Central App
  • Official release is likely a month out.
  • It suppose be the beginning of Nov. so 2 weeks. Posted via Android Central App
  • Does it restore app settings as well or only apps themselves? Like will you have say Facebook and Instagram with already logged on user and all the content or just empty Facebook app will be downloaded and you need to start from scratch?
  • Its still just initiating the same restore as before. All of your apps are coming from Google Play, not manually over Bluetooth (that'd be gigabytes and gigabytes over Bluetooth, not really efficient) still. So if the apps dont support data restoration, youll be setting them up manually. At least, that's the case right now.
  • Android still have something to learn from Apple if it's the case. Restore from iCloud bring all data associated with apps (Facebook for example).
  • Yep! Until then I will keep using Helium.
  • " so of course apps that don't support cloud save of progress/data won't be brought over"
    is there any apps that save this kind of data in the cloud? I've stopped re-installing apps because I'm sick and tired of setting it up again and again and punch in those pesky log in credentials.
  • Very, very few.
  • This is dumb, I want to either be able to transfer my game data over via the cloud or some other method on every game. I am pretty sure this is something the iPhone has been able to do since forever and I am tired of wondering if I am going to lose all of my progress in a game when I get a new phone. Luckily apps like Carbon exist (for non rooted users) but I shouldn't have to go through what I have to go through simply to restore my app data.
  • Yes, mostly games. For example, all of Vector Unit's recent game support cloud saves using Google Play Game services
  • Really awesome. I can't wait. i hope LG announces something soon...
  • Me too want android L sooo bad ;) my g2 needs a big refresh....
  • I'm so ready for this. It's a dream for ROM flashing addicts, too. Posted via the AC App on my AT&T Red HTC M8 (GPE)
  • Does it bring over SMS/MMS as well? I was thinking not, but I hope Im wrong.
  • Sweet! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Wonder how long it will be for lollipop rom for oneplus one... Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • They said within 3 months I heard..
  • Sounds like sCloud lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • No clippy ? Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or verizon Galaxy S5 or maybe one day through my moto 360
  • Can't wait to get Nexus6 Posted via LG G3 Sprint
  • Andrew any idea if it will sync your saved wifi networks? I've noticed that when I get a new phone some devices will sync them and some won't.
  • It's supposed to.
  • That Tap & Go option is very appealing. I like it for the mere fact that it transfers over your home screen layout. That's always important for me, since last time I did a factor reset I spent a good 15-20 minutes trying to remember how I had my home screen organized Posted via the Android Central App
  • My question, does the old device need to be connected to a network for this to work or will you be able to do this in the store when trading devices? Posted via the Android Central App
  • No, it doesn't need a network connection. It's just handing details over Bluetooth, then the new device is the one that pulls down data from the cloud.
  • I definitely like the initial setup in comparison to basically any other android setup as of previous. Especially those carrier branded setups where you need to sign into you att account.... Good job Google.
  • Using this right now! Seems to have copied successfully from my Moto X 2013. Very slick! Though (and I understand this is a preview) the text on the wifi selection and password entry was wrapped very narrowly. {edit} Spoke too soon! Account did not add properly on the first go-round, and now my X has a persistent notification that I can't get rid of, even after a reboot. Trying again...
    {/edit} {edit} Once more, with gusto! Weirdness ensued while connected to the access point on my phone, so I took care of that. Finally got rid of the notification by going into apps, play services, then uncheck "Show notifications". After a few moments, rechecked the box and all is well. Apps are currently downloading... This is pretty nice!
    {/edit}
  • I don't think they are that bad...haters abound at every goddamn turn with negativity. Ugh. Thanks for these walls!
  • wow! this is a great feature! I am however torn between a fresh start and seeing how this works. I suppose you could at least use this to copy over account data, wifi etc. but leave the apps manual. I'm sure as long as it isn't carrying over deep settings the chances of gremlins as some have pointed out would be reduced if not nullified. I also would like to think Google has thought this through and really this is just a cooler way of doing what plugging a iPhone into iTunes and syncing does and that seems to work just fine, I've at least never heard a iPerson complain about it so I assume so that is.
  • Awesome! Way excited with this improvement. When you used to check the 'restore' option during setup, it always seemed like a crap shoot on whether it would actually download the apps I thought it should. It will be nice to select a specific device and then specific apps.
  • Really awesome. My new phone is Android 5.0 Lollipop. I like it very much. So I can't agree any more.
  • How can I go back to the setup assistant if i skipped steps when I first powered up the phone?
  • I used this going from a Nexus 5 to a Nexus 6. It really works.
  • I just setup a new Sony Xperia M4Aqua, but i never got any of these prompts at the time of setup. Also, when i try to redo the setup from the settings, these options don't show up. Any idea why this might be?
  • really great version
  • really great version lollipop
  • really great version lollipop