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

Ankit Gupta

April 17, 2020

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

Android kiosk mode is an Android enterprise device which is 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 strictly 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 use case. It can be used on smartphones, tablets, and other touch-enabled Android devices. Kiosk mode prevents users from anything that’s not enabled by the device administrator. Usually, kiosk mode blocks user access to:

  • Apps
  • 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 which operate in 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 

Kiosk mode can mean either Single App Kiosk Mode or Multi-App Kiosk Mode depending on the use case. In single app kiosk mode, one Android app is set as the default device app so it runs continuously when the device is powered on. The application is configured to automatically load every time the device is rebooted or restarted. 

Multi-app kiosk mode is a similar concept, except users are limited to several authorized apps. Android kiosk mode is a configuration state that locks a device to intended use while preventing personal use by employees or customers.

What is Android Kiosk Software?

Kiosk Software is a category of MDM software which 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 which can describe any type of 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, which is possible in Android version 9.0 pie and newer.

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

Just to recap, Android Kiosk Mode is a device state which describes a device that’s locked to a dedicated use case. It can be enabled in Android devices running versions 5.0 or greater using the App Pinning Mode, or in 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 a wide variety of OS versions using kiosk software like Esper. 

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?