Formatting Phones and Tablets

We have done our best to capture all the steps for both Android and IOS, but due to the wide variety of possible devices, some of the steps may differ slightly  on the device(s) you have acquired.  Reach out to Google for troubleshooting help, if you need it.

This video is specific to iphones and ipads.
For Android, please read the step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: check device operating system

    • From the slide down menu open your settings (gear wheel)
    • Scroll down to ‘About Phone/Tablet’
    • If Android version is 4.4 or greater, it can be used for this project. If it’s under 4.4, we cannot use it as it is. (An update may be available for this device but you should only spend time looking for and applying an update if there are no other devices to process)
    • Go to Settings > General > About
    • In the About page, find the Software Version
    • If it is 10.0 or greater, it can be used for this project
  • Tip: If working through a batch of devices, setting up newer models first is more likely to go smoother; older models may require extra steps or Googling.

Step 2: label devices

  • Group in sets of three and label: Nurse, Patient A, & Patient B
  • Use masking tape and permanent marker or a label maker if you have one
  • If you have multiple sets, label as Set 1, Set 2, etc.
  • Or instead of numbering, you can use large, cheerful stickers (ie. Nurse Cupcake Set)
  • Put those on the back so that the set can be identified

Step 3: Charge device

  • Ensure the device has at least 50% battery power.
  • Tip: If working through a batch of devices, setting up newer models first is more likely to go smoother; older models may require some Googling

Step 4: remove SIM card

  • If the device has a removable SIM card, turn off the device and remove it
  • Why? Even if deactivated, the donor’s personal cell phone number is stored on this and could be viewed by anyone checking the ‘About Phone’ section. Let’s protect everyone’s privacy!

Step 5: Factory reset the device

  • Skip this step if setting up a brand new ‘out of the box’ device
    • This is only to remove information left on the device by the previous owner
  • Specific settings vary for each device. Google ‘factory reset’ for the device make and model, if you are unsure
  • Skip any options to sign up for or into google accounts
  • Skip any options to recover data or port from another device

Step 6: set-up the device

  • Go through the device set-up steps
  • When prompted, do not enter real names or emails, use “Patient Phone” or “Nurse Phone” according to how you have labelled them.
  • Skip any options to sign up for or into google accounts
  • Skip any options to recover data or port from another device
  • Skip all prompts that ask to set up a PIN or ID, or other software
  • When prompted to connect to a wifi network – sign into your home/office wifi just for programming purposes
  • Set the date/time to your time zone
  • Turn Airplane mode on (disables blue tooth and cellular services)
  • Re-enable wifi (if it turned off during airplane mode)
  • Update software if required:
    • Settings > General > Software Update
  • ⚠️ IOS NOTE: You will need to set up a new Apple/iCloud ID and email address for EACH Apple Device.  Do not use your personal Apple ID if you are a Mac user – we don’t want someone else to get all of your text messages!  **Make sure you record the Apple ID, fake date of birth, email, and answers to the three security questions.**

Step 7: Install and Configure ‘Signal’

    • You do not need to go through Google Play. Instead open the device’s web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc) and navigate  directly to
    • Scroll down past the google play section to the block “Danger zone” and click download
    • You will be prompted by several warnings (this may vary depending on your hardware)
    • For access to download > click OK
    • For access to store files > click OK
    • For this type of file can harm your device > click OK
    • For access if blocked > click OK
    • You should now be able to open the downloaded file
    • You will be asked to enter a number. Leave this for now and go to your homescreen.
    • You need to sign into the App store using the apple ID and password you created.
    • Search for Signal and download
      • You may be asked for payment method – select free
    • Open Signal
    • You will be asked to enter a number. Leave this for now and go to your homescreen.

Step 8: Simplify the home screen

  • We don’t want to confuse anyone with lots of home screen buttons. Imagine giving this device to an elderly relative – make it obvious Signal is the only important app.
  • Remove all home screen shortcuts except for Signal
  • Apps that can’t be removed: place altogether in a folder and move to the right to access the 2nd app page

Step 9: request signal phone numbers & ACTIVATION CODES

  • To request new number(s) & activation codes, send an email to with the following informtaion:
    • Two photos (one of the front of devices, one back)
    • Include your name, email address, community location and hospital you are planning to donate the devices (if known)
    • If they are apple devices, include the Apple/iCloud email, password, and security questions you used to set up each phone

Step 10: input signal CODES

  • Record the numbers you receive from, and decide which device will get each number and save this information. 
  • Open Signal on each device and enter the assigned phone number, then the activation code
  • Enter the correct name for each device (ie. Nurse, Patient A, Patient B)·  
  • Label the back of each device with its Signal phone number (just the phone number, not the activation code)
  • If you are setting up multiple sets, make a spreadsheet to track your numbers
    • ⚠️Be very careful not to reuse any phone numbers! You will end up disabling the device that had the number first – and this device may already be in the hospital.

STEP 11: set up caller profiles

  • Using the ‘Patient A’ Device:
    • Click New Message
    • Enter the full number for HCW (ie 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX) and click ‘New Message to’
    • Text “Test from Patient A” and click “Send”
    • Set ‘Disappearing Messages’ to 30min (click top right corner)
  • Using the ‘HCW’ Device:
  • Click “Don’t add to contacts but share my profile”
  • Then text “HCW Received” back to Patient A
  • Set ‘Disappearing Messages’ to 30min (click top right corner)
  • Repeat these steps with Patient B
  • If the ringtone is jarring, go to Settings>Sounds and change the ringtone and text tones to something that would be more calming

Step 12: test

  • Test each device one more time to make sure everything is set up correctly
    • Have the nurse video call and text each patient
    • Have each patient phone video call and text the nurse
    • Patient phones will not need to call each other
  • When testing is complete – Sign out of Google or Apple Accounts

Step 13: email info

Please email all the info you used to set-up the devices to along with a picture of the labelled phones (just in case we have to update them in the furture).

  • icloud/Apple email & Password
  • Security Questions & Answers
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Any other relevant information you think may be needed for future updates

That’s it for the devices!