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What the Apple’s Presto Machine can Do

Apple’s Presto machine can update the software of new iPhones while they’re still in their boxes.
It takes 15-20 minutes to complete the process.

Apple has a new machine in its stores that can charge and perform software updates to iPhones while they’re still in their boxes.

The device is called the Presto, and it looks like a kind of a cross between those hotel breakfast-room toasters, and a pigeon-hole message box. The idea is that Apple Store employees can keep the stock of iPhones updated, so the user doesn’t have to install a bunch of software updates before they can use their new phone. But does anyone but Apple care?

“While the Presto machine does solve the minor frustration of waiting for updates, I don’t believe it addresses a widespread pain point that consumers truly care about. Most iPhone users expect to handle updates themselves and won’t change their behavior just because the phone ships slightly more up-to-date,” cybersecurity specialist Michael Robert told Lifewire via email.

Hey, Presto
The idea of Presto is that users will be able to use their iPhones as soon as they buy them, saving themselves the twenty minutes or so that it usually takes to update the phone on the first launch. According to French iPhone news site iGen (which published the photo you see here), it takes 20 seconds to place a boxed iPhone correctly inside the device, and then 15-30 minutes to connect to Apple’s servers and download the latest update. The Presto can also power the iPhone via magnetic induction, aka “wirelessly,” during the process.

But why are these updates even needed? When Apple makes an iPhone or any other computer, it “flashes” it with the latest operating system version before sealing it in the box and shipping it off. But while it’s in that box, subsequent software updates come and go, leaving the iPhone running an out-of-date version. And this will only get worse because Apple has committed to surface-shipping more iPhones to cut down on the carbon emissions of shipping by air.

And it’s easy to see why people like this extra convenience. Who likes waiting?

“This is very smart. In my last position, I often had to deal with users getting ‘new’ phones—new in box, but they’d been that way for a while—where the first thing we had to do was update iOS to the latest version. This wouldn’t have helped me, since it’s only for Apple Stores, but nice to see that any phone you buy in a store should always be on the latest iOS as soon as you take it out of the box,” technical support guru Clay Johanson said in a forum thread participated in by Lifewire.

Restoring From iCloud
But the reality is, it’s not really the update that takes the most time—it’s restoring from your iCloud backup. Yes, you can do this in the Apple Store, and that’s handy if, say, you lost or smashed your iPhone while on a trip, so you have to get up and running right there. But don’t most of us either order the iPhone for delivery or take it to our home or office to get things set up?

“Most iPhone users expect to handle updates themselves and won’t change their behavior just because the phone ships slightly more up-to-date.”

I’ve done updates and restores in Apple Stores before, and they took forever. I’d much rather be at home, with my good coffee and my fast internet, and do something else while the update and the restoring-from-backup process completes, and then the iPhone restarts and downloads all the apps.

“Waiting in-store for updates to complete can be a frustrating experience for customers, especially those who are eager to start using their new phones,” George Nicholson, founder of Juno Telecoms, told Lifewire via email.

Apple’s setup process is always getting better, faster, and easier to do. Now you just show one phone an animated code image on the screen of the other one, and wait for the update. It’s even possible to connect devices via cable for a direct transfer.

So, while Apple’s toaster-oven Presto machine is truly clever, allowing the complete updating of an iPhone without even taking it out of the box, it’s not really an essential service, and it won’t be until the software update is the longest, most-annoying part of getting a new iPhone.

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