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I noticed during checkout for the Nexus 4 that you are given the option to have it provisioned:

When purchasing a Nexus device from Google Play, you'll notice a 'Link this device to my Google account' checkbox appear in your cart just prior to checkout. When you link a Nexus device to your Google account, we'll automatically send your name and username to the device when you first power it on. You'll just need to input your Google account password to get started.

I'm not sure if this is cool or creepy. How does this provisioning happen? I'm not concerned with what Google is doing on the server side so much as:

  1. What is sent to the device?
  2. Is it encrypted?
  3. How does the device receive/process the message?

Is there a special service that sends my IMEI to Google and then receives the info back, or something?

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I asked for my Nexus 7 to be linked to my Google Account, but I didn't notice anything different when I got it. I still had to do the same setup and configuration I always do when I first turned it on. –  Raghd Hamzeh Jan 29 '13 at 20:22
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Sounds just like what Amazon have done with their Kindles for years, where it arrives already linked to your account details. –  GAThrawn Jan 30 '13 at 10:28
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1 Answer

I saw this, and also looked into it briefly.

Basically, as you are using your Google Account when buying the device, Google will link your Google account to your Nexus device at the factory, and send your details to your email address.

This means that the Google account setup is already complete when you receive the device, so you can download apps as soon as you turn it on and enter your password.

It is unlikely to be encrypted, however as the password has yet to be entered no sensitive information such as emails or card details can be access should someone else receive the device.

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Hmm I thought it might have been an on-device config before it ships but I assumed they were not fulfilling orders directly from the factory and figured they wouldn't open them up after the fact. Do you happen to have a source at all? Just for curiosity's sake. –  Matthew Read Jan 29 '13 at 19:12
    
@MatthewRead No source sorry, mainly assumption (I didn't just say that). They most likely just flash a new (provisioned) system image to it. I suppose someone had better order a provisioned nexus to check... –  Liam W Jan 29 '13 at 19:13
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I would think that the DeviceID (or event the IMEI) is tied to your account. So when you power it up and it "phones home" it knows that it is already tied to your account. The IMEI is usually "barcoded" on the side of the box so it would just take a scan and then in the back end the server knows that you want it "provisioned" to they prep their end (which is probably just bridging your device (imei) to your account in some database. –  Ryan Conrad Jan 29 '13 at 21:43
    
Ryan Conrad said pretty much exactly what I was thinking. Since the device contacts Google during setup, it would be trivial for it to retrieve the desired account name. I considered having my Nexus 4 provisioned in this manner, then concluded that it was of no practical benefit because I still have to do the harder task of generating and entering a new Application-specific Password. –  dgw Feb 9 '13 at 9:41
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