Android Kiosk Mode or Custom Launcher? How Retail Enterprises Can Improve Device Security

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    Mobile Devices in Frontline Environments

    Frontline environments are dynamic workspaces bustling with an endless stream of customers and a workforce constantly in motion. Enterprises rely on mobile handhelds and tablets to meet the demands of their work environment by handling various employee tasks and operations across their locations.


    These devices need to be set up with the proper functionality to cultivate the best user and customer experience. However, having consumer applications exposed to users can often result in employees using workforce devices for non-business-related purposes, ultimately affecting productivity.     

    Kiosk mode and Enterprise Launchers are two approaches that enable enterprises to lock down managed devices to increase employee productivity, enhance security, and prevent device misuse. 

    Let’s take a look at the main aspects of kiosk mode and Enterprise Launchers, showing you how your organization can benefit from both depending on certain use cases.

    Kiosk Mode Functionalities

    Kiosk Mode is a software configuration that gives an organization control over what applications can be accessed on their company-owned devices.

    Kiosk mode locks devices into a set of applications that a retailer authorizes. This restricts users from accessing any other data or applications on the device. This helps organizations manage the user experience and keep their devices from being misused. 

    Retailers have the choice of utilizing a single app and multi-app kiosk software configuration.  

    Single application kiosk software locks devices into a single application, restricting users from leaving the app or accessing anything else on the device.

    Examples for use in the retail industry include price checking, wayfinding, and inventory management. Single app kiosk-enabled devices will be limited exclusively to a single assigned function.

    For example, a retailer could have a tablet in kiosk mode with a customer satisfaction survey. That would be the only accessible application displayed on the tablet, and the customer couldn’t close out of the app, access settings, or any sensitive company information. 

    Kiosk mode keeps a user locked into the application so that if they attempt to leave the application or access files, they won’t be able to. This prevents employees or curious customers from accessing sensitive company data and information.

    Multi-application kiosk software works the same way, but it can support more than one application and/or function. Users have access to any number of authenticated applications and can leave one app for another. However, only the selected ones can be used, making the rest of the device inaccessible. 

    Kiosk mode helps employees stay organized on the job while also offering a more streamlined user experience. 

    The Enterprise Launcher Landscape

    As organizations continue to mature and have the need to support multiple applications, use multiple applications at once, and have shared devices, they often come to realize that kiosk mode is not enough to support their operations. As a result, they look toward customizable launchers to employ a better user interface. 

    A launcher is different from kiosk mode because it creates a session where users can access applications specific to their role. Instead of isolating you to one application (or a subset of applications), a launcher can dynamically control the user experience and how they access their business applications. 

    Currently, in the retail space,  there are three main trends when it comes to what types of launchers organizations are using. 

    1. Some retailers use the default or out-of-the-box launcher that comes with their Android Kiosk devices, such as Zebra Enterprise Home Screen, or launchers that are bundled with their MDM license, such as VMWare’s Workspace ONE.

      Default launchers typically launch apps and lock down everything else, but they don’t have advanced support for SSO and shared multi-user scenarios.

    2. We see some organizations build their own proprietary launcher to control their employees’ experience.

      These launchers often fall short over the long run due to the effort required to maintain and provide ongoing support with new Android versions. 
    3. Retailers that have complex needs often use a highly customizable launcher. A custom launcher presents users with a customized home screen specific to the user’s needs and is branded to the organization.

      They are usually ideal for supporting single sign-on (SSO), blending multiple legacy and third-party applications, or wanting more device control and compliance. These Launchers are equipped to provide the full gamut of security features needed to protect company data, streamline and improve the login process, and be personalized to unique user roles.

    BlueFletch’s Enterprise Launcher is an example of a highly customizable launcher that can provide the best experience for end-users and IT admins responsible for securing the data and applications on shared rugged Android devices. 

    Here are some examples of how retailers can get more value with a custom launcher:

    • Allow multiple users to authenticate on a shared device using single sign-on (SSO) to quickly access business applications.
    • Present or restrict applications based on a user role
    • Control access to system settings to prevent users from changing configurations
    • Provide multiple re-authentication methods, including NFC badge tap, facial recognition, or PIN

    To learn more about how our Enterprise Launcher can help your company, read our article where we compare our launcher to the Android default launchers.

    Multiple Application Devices

    The emergence of Enterprise Launchers has radically changed the world of rugged Android devices by allowing organizations to control and centralize the applications that are displayed to employees. 

    Mature retailers often have a plethora of applications designed to streamline employee tasks and provide a better customer experience. Some of these applications include item lookup, cycle counts, buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), mobile point of sale, picking and receiving.

    As more and more functionality is added to these rugged handheld devices, organizations must implement the right software tools to secure these devices, apps, and data – all while balancing the end-user experience. 

    Finding the Right Solution for your Business

    While Kiosk Mode and Enterprise Launchers serve different business use cases, they are impactful software solutions that can help organizations lockdown devices and control the end-user experience.

    For more information on kiosk mode and launcher the landscape, you can watch a segment from our video.

    Be on the lookout for our next article in this series, where we will be discussing single sign-on and the Identity Provider landscape.