Android Kiosk Mode vs. Kiosk Software | Here's the Difference

Ankit Gupta

April 17, 2020

Kiosk mode is gaining popularity due to its vast number of uses. Organizations enable kiosk mode for use cases like digital signage, mobile point-of-sale for customer ordering devices, patient check-ins, and more. In this blog, we will dig deep into understanding the difference between Kiosk mode and Kiosk software. 

Kiosk Software is a category of enterprise mobility management (EMM) technology, which supports locking single-purpose Android devices to kiosk mode with configuration features. 

An Android kiosk mode is an Android enterprise device locked down to one or several full-screen kiosk apps. It is a configuration state, and it’s best defined by what the user can’t do. In kiosk mode, an end-user can’t exit the kiosk app or access device settings. Users can’t make personal calls, texts, or download unauthorized personal apps.

Android kiosk software can be used to create a kiosk mode state for Android devices. It’s not necessary to use kiosk software. But, a cloud MDM platform with kiosk software is usually the most efficient way to deploy and manage Android kiosks.

What is Android Kiosk Mode?

Kiosk Mode is a configuration state for Android devices which locks down a touchscreen device to a single customer-facing use case. It locks a device to intended use while preventing personal use by employees or customers.You can use kiosk mode on smartphones, tablets, and other touch-enabled Android devices. Kiosk mode prevents users from anything that the device administrator does not enable on the home screen. Usually, kiosk mode blocks user access to:

  • Apps- Google Play apps and Private apps
  • Device Settings
  • Device features

Android devices that are locked to kiosk mode may use peripheral devices to create a self-serve user experience. An Android tablet locked to a mobile point-of-sale (mPoS) application may be combined with a card reader and printer peripherals.

Some common examples of enterprise single-purpose devices that operate in an Android kiosk mode include:

  • Touchscreen customer devices for ordering menu items at a restaurant
  • Ticketing and baggage tag kiosks at an airport
  • Interactive seating charts used by front-of-house host staff at restaurants
  • Store directories and maps at large retail shopping centers
  • Self-serve payment kiosks for purchasing products or renting items

Depending on the use case, a kiosk mode can mean either Single App Kiosk Mode (screen pinning) or Multi-App Kiosk Mode. One launcher Android app is set as the default device app in single app mode. It runs continuously when the device is powered ‘ON.’ The application is configured to load when rebooted or restarted. Multi-app kiosk mode is similar, except users are limited to several authorized apps instead of a single application.

What is Android Kiosk Software?

Kiosk Software is an MDM (mobile device management) software category that enables the enterprise to lock Android devices to kiosk mode configurations and apps. Kiosk Software streamlines the process of configuring Android smartphones, tablets, and other devices to serve as single-purpose enterprise kiosk devices. 

According to Capterra, Kiosk Software or Kiosk Lockdown Software is generally defined by:

  • Ability to customize the kiosk end-user interface
  • Features to control and manage user sessions
  • Remote kiosk access and monitoring capabilities
  • Kiosk usage tracking and analytics

 Kiosk Software vs. Kiosk Apps 

Kiosk software is not the same as Kiosk apps. Kiosk apps is a term that can describe any enterprise app designed to run in full-screen mode, including mPoS apps, digital menu apps, and integrated restaurant apps. While these apps may be exclusively designed for kiosk mode devices, they generally lack support to configure Android enterprise devices to run in kiosk mode.

What Settings are Part of Android Kiosk Mode?

Setting up a design to run in kiosk mode requires disabling some features in the end-user interface. In any use case, the end user’s device experience will be limited to one single app (single kiosk mode) or a few chosen apps (multi-app kiosk mode). Users cannot close out of the kiosk app(s) to access settings or features.

Specific configurations can vary, but almost every kiosk mode device has limited user access to apps, status bar, and device settings. The end-user needs to be limited to one or several kiosk mode apps without the ability to close out kiosk apps or access settings or features.

*Android Versions 9.0 and above allows selective enabling of the status bar in kiosk mode when it makes sense for the use case- many customers want status bar visibility in kiosk mode to view battery percentage and WiFi connection without exiting kiosk mode.

Understanding the Difference Between Android Kiosk Mode vs. Android Kiosk Software

To recap, Android Kiosk Mode is a device state that describes a device locked to a dedicated use case. You can enable kiosk mode in Android devices running versions 5.0 or greater using the App Pinning Mode or Android devices running 6.0 or newer using lock task mode. Android kiosk mode can also be enabled using different means than app pinning or lock task mode for various OS versions using kiosk software like Esper for dedicated device management. 

Kiosk software is a class of technology designed to help streamline the provisioning, deployment, and management of kiosk mode devices and kiosk apps. It should streamline seamless no-touch provisioning and make it easy to prevent personal use on enterprise Android devices to drive control and visibility throughout the device lifecycle.To learn more about how to provision single-purpose Android enterprise devices in Esper, we recommend the blog: Esper’s Compliance Policy vs. Settings vs. Provisioning Templates: What’s the Difference?