How to Create Android Kiosk Device Templates with Esper

Bhushan Mehendale

November 18, 2019

In our previous blog, we covered 3 approaches you can take to create Android apps in Kiosk mode and explored the pros and cons. We also learned about how to build Android apps in Kiosk mode using the Esper platform. Our task in this blog is to go through the next step in the process of managing your Kiosk strategy using Esper with the Provisioning Template. 

So, let’s jump right in!

With the Provisioning Template, Esper makes it straightforward to define the provisioning settings so that it can be reused and modified as needed. 

“You can create a Provisioning Template to provision any number of devices to ensure they are properly configured for a robust Kiosk mode implementation.”

Creating Your Provisioning Template

Now that you’ve uploaded your apk to Esper using the Android Studio Plugin (or the Esper Console, API, SDK, plus CLI – your choice!), putting your Kiosk devices into locked-down mode is very simple with the right choice of settings. The following will guide you through the process of creating a template to provision your devices to Esper:

  • Create a new Provisioning Template, which is used to define provisioning parameters for the devices you plan to enroll, by clicking on the Provisioning Templates tab in the Esper Console.
  • Then click on Create Template to start the process.
  • The Provisioning Template creation wizard will pop up. On the first screen you’ll name your template. Give it a name that will help identify it relative to the provisioning actions you are setting up, then click Next.
  • Now you can define the Compliance Policy for the template which covers various device settings to be provisioned. Leave Device password rules set to None as the end user will not be locking the device. Leave Default app permissions set to Allow Automatically to ensure your Kiosk mode app can run unfettered.  

For System updates, set it to Update automatically to allow the system to automatically install all critical updates. Note that for devices running Esper Enhanced Android, you can control when OS updates will be applied to the device. 

For the Android setting app choose the Esper settings app. This app removes many of the settings so that technicians servicing the kiosk only get access to a fraction of the settings offered by Android. Enter an appropriate password (up to 10 characters) for the Settings app that will then be used by field personnel for servicing access in the Dock & Esper Settings app password field.

Moving on to granular device settings. Here is a run through of the settings. Note: Leave Restrict incoming/outgoing calls using customised dialer unchecked. For some of the settings like SMS, NFC, Outgoing calls, USB connectivity, Camera access, etc. you may have a special use case for your Kiosk that will require these to be turned on – if you are not sure just contact us and we’ll help you with it.

Typical kiosk implementations need Lock screen set to off as there is no need to lock the screen, as well as Notification bar set to off to prevent the user from swiping down to pull up the Notification Bar. Now click Next.

On the Apps screen, ensure that you select Kiosk mode. This will enable you to provide a single app that will be launched at boot by your Esper agent.

Next, while still in the Apps screen, you can either choose an app that you have previously uploaded to the Esper Console’s Enterprise Apps Cloud or an app from the Google Play (making sure you previously set up your Google Play Store account in Esper). Note the specific settings shown below using our Kiosk sample app that we had previously uploaded. First select the app from the Select app dropdown and click Add.

Then you need to click Start on boot option to make sure the Kiosk boots up into this app.

If your app utilizes services from other apps such as Google Maps or Chrome (using the package name if the app is in-ROM), you’ll need to add those apps as well to your Provisioning Template and then click on Next.

  • You are now on the Branding screen. This is where you can provide portrait or landscape wallpapers for the device depending on its display orientation. On some Kiosks, there may be a small delay between the device booting up and the Esper agent launching your Kiosk mode app – you can make the boot up experience look more professional by adding the appropriately oriented wallpaper. Once done, click on Next.
  • Now you are on the Settings screen. Ensure you only keep the relevant settings turned on. For instance, if your Kiosk will not be doing anything via Bluetooth, it’s best to keep it off. Recommended settings here are to keep the Brightness at a high level but not at 100% to prevent screen burnout, and the Alarm volume and Notification volume set to appropriate levels for your use case – you may need to try them out to determine the proper settings.
  • Keep the Screen Timeout set to Never, noting that in the unusual case your Kiosk is battery powered, power management may override this setting.
  • We suggest keeping GPS to High accuracy as this ensures all means to locate the device/s (including WiFi) available, helpful in geolocating your Kiosk whether located outdoors or inside a store. If your device is connected via Ethernet, this is of limited utility.
  • Set Auto-rotate to the orientation that matches your Kiosk display orientation – noting if this is a dedicated tablet it may be appropriate to set it to Auto instead of fixing it to Portrait or Landscape. Occassionaly some device makers improperly implement this in their firmware image, reversing the setting for Portrait and Landscape (if you have a device you’ll quickly find out after provisioning your first one – just simply reverse this setting if that’s the case.) Now click Next.

“Remember to leave the GPS to high-accuracy. If your Kiosk is connected to the internet via a cell-connection or even WiFi, this setting will help you identify its location very accurately.”

  • Finally, the best practice is to keep provisioned devices in a logical Group. For example, you could have a template for Kiosks in San Francisco Downtown, CA and another one in Manhattan, NYC. That way you can do different group operations on them by location. Create an appropriate Group here and Create a group dialog pops up – enter a Group name and click on Save. Or select an existing Group from the list. Now click on Next.

In the final step you will get a preview of all the settings you’ve just created. Scroll through it to ensure your Provisioning Template is set up to your specifications. If not, simply scroll down and click Back, doing the same for each previous screen until you get to the screen you want to change. You can not change any settings on the Preview screen. 

If you are satisfied with your Provisioning Template settings, scroll down to the bottom of the Preview screen and click Save.

That’s it. You can now use this template to provision using the various methods available to you with Esper, a topic for a future blog post! In the meantime read our docs about the available methods. Or take away a lot of the complexity by downloading and applying our Device Provisioner Tool, find out more here.

Key Takeaways

This article showcases the process of provisioning your kiosks with the Esper platform. We dug deep into how to create a template for Kiosk mode that can be used to roll out your Kiosk customizations to an entire device fleet – everything from brightness controls to screen timeouts to GPS adjustments and more! 

We’ve taken a fairly elaborate journey over the past 3 articles as we’ve discussed the following segments of a fully integrated Kiosk application strategy. We hope this Kiosk series has been valuable to you and that perhaps it has inspired you to push your strategy forward today.

Whatever the case, the implications are clear; business growth today depends on making it easy for customers to engage with your company. And now, there’s no better way to achieve that than through kiosks – large, small, standup, or mounted, (they come in all shapes and sizes).

Do let us know about your kiosk strategy at partner@esper.io. To know more about our solution, you can sign up here to talk to our team to develop a kiosk strategy for you. 

Kiosk on!