39: Welcome home, Amazon products

It happened. I'm the latest in a long line of Apple enthusiasts to buy into the Amazon Echo and give Siri some competition in my life. Just one day in, it's far too early for me to give a full review, but I can say a little about the setup process: it was flawless.

Until a couple months ago, I never owned any Amazon hardware; now I have two devices, the Echo and a Kindle Paperwhite. For both, Amazon has tried to shorten setup as much as possible. With the Kindle, there's even the option to pre-load your Amazon account credentials onto the device at the warehouse. That raised minor security concerns for me, but I was so intrigued by the potential convenience that I opted for it. As promised, it arrived at my doorstep two days later, and I didn't have to transcribe any information from 1Password to a non-capacitive touchscreen keyboard. What a contrast to the awful initial password entry on the Apple TV's letter-line.

The Echo was nearly as simple, although it doesn't come preconfigured. Its in-box documentation lists just two steps: plug it in and download the companion app. You're not quite done at this point: the Echo needs to get online. So how do you get your Wi-Fi credentials into the keyboardless cylinder? Not by clunkily dictating SSID and password one letter at a time, as tvOS 9.2 might have you do, but by setting up an ad hoc network with your phone, which acts as a suitable input device.

These experiences shouldn't be remarkable, but compared to current Apple hardware, they seem revolutionary. Apple prided itself on simple setup in the past: "There's no step three! There's no step three!" While that was an oversimplification for the original iMac, it was a slight one, just as it is for the Echo. For today's iPhones, not only is there a step three, but forty more to follow.

There's no doubt that the iPhone is a more complex device than the Kindle, but I would love my next iPhone to set up just as easily. Especially for enrollees in the new iPhone Upgrade Program, why shouldn't it be a two-step process? A Genius slides your new phone across the Bar, you verify your iCloud password (username pre-filled) and set up Touch ID. And forget re-downloading all your apps and settings over the store Wi-Fi; that could be done for you in advance. That would seem like magic to some users, and at least great service to the rest. That doesn't just drive "customer sat" — it gets people to go beyond buying devices to welcoming them home.