Emily
Brown

What is multi app kiosk mode and how to set it up?

Emily Brown

Aug 4, 2021

12 min read

When I googled multi-app kiosk mode the other day, I was quite surprised to find almost all the articles dedicated to multi-app kiosk mode in Windows devices and a few to Android’s multi-app kiosk mode but none on multi-app mode in general. We have to rectify that, don’t we?

By definition, multi-app kiosk mode is a special security feature that allows you to lock down your devices into a specific set of apps. This is in contrast to single app kiosk mode which locks down the devices into a single application.

Multi App Kiosk Mode Single App Kiosk Mode
Device locked into two or more apps. Device locked into a single app.
Best for shared devices. For example, shared devices could be used by workers in different shifts. Best for single-purpose devices. For instance, self-service kiosks and digital signage displays are single-purpose devices.
Supported in iOS, Android, and Windows devices enrolled in Hexnode. Supported in iOS, Android, Windows and tvOS devices enrolled in Hexnode.

Why do we use kiosk mode?

Locking down devices into a kiosk mode is an attractive option for businesses and enterprises. Let’s have a look at why that’s the case:

Purpose-oriented devices: Businesses can lock down their devices into a set of apps that serves a particular purpose. For example, in a school, the educational tablets could be locked down with only the study apps. In a nursing home, the caretakers’ devices could be locked down into the relevant apps.

Security: This one is an obvious result of kiosk mode. In multi-app kiosk mode, the users would not get access to any other apps or device settings except for the ones specified by the IT admin. This would eliminate the risks that could arise from user negligence. Not to sound paranoid, but there is no dearth of applications that seem useful at the first glance while they hide malicious intent. Blocking users from access to apps other than the approved ones also means that they cannot install applications like these.

Increased productivity: For employee-facing devices, kiosk mode results in increased productivity of the users. Since the users have access to only the work apps, they are saved from unnecessary distractions.

A UEM solution for multi app kiosk mode

Hexnode is an acclaimed Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution. Organizations ranging from SMBs to Fortune 100 companies use Hexnode to monitor, manage and secure their endpoints. Hexnode also doubles as a kiosk solution, giving the device admins added control beyond a simple kiosk solution.

You can lock down your Windows, Android, iOS and tvOS devices into kiosk mode. Multi app kiosk mode is supported in Windows, Android and iOS devices. Let’s take a closer look into how Hexnode helps you to achieve multi app mode in each of them.

Multi app kiosk for Windows

The multi app kiosk mode for Windows locks down a local user account into a set of whitelisted applications. The users are prevented from accessing any other features or apps. Multi-app kiosk mode is useful for Windows devices that are shared by multiple users. The users find it easier and less confusing to use the shared device locked in a multi-app mode. All they need to do is login to their user account and they would get a customized experience with the apps they need.

Multi-app kiosk mode is supported in Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions running version 1709 or the ones that came after it.

Single app kiosk mode in Windows Multiple App mode in Windows
Local user account restricted to a single app. Local user account locked into a set of whitelisted applications.
No Start menu since the kiosk app runs in full screen. Customized Start menu with the list of apps in multi-app kiosk.
Single app kiosk can be used for digital signages, educational assessments and more. Multi-app kiosk can be used for shared or multi-user Windows devices.

How to activate multi-app mode in Windows?

Multi app kiosk in healthcare
Health worker using Windows machine locked in kiosk mode
 

Configure it with Hexnode UEM

The easiest way to configure kiosk mode is with Hexnode UEM. If your Windows devices are already enrolled with Hexnode, then you need not look any further.

  1. Create a local user account in the Windows devices that are to be locked. This account will be the kiosk account.
  2. Install the kiosk apps in the kiosk user account.
  3. Customize the Start layout and export it as an XML file. Customizing means that you are arranging the apps in a way that would be best for the user’s view.
  4. Login to your Hexnode account. Configure a multi-app kiosk policy.
  5. Import the Start layout XML file to the kiosk policy.
  6. Associate the policy to the Windows devices.

Doing it the hard way with provisioning packages

This is not the easiest method, but it does the job. If you do not mind pulling around some weight, you can configure multi-app kiosk using provisioning packages.

For using provisioning packages, you need Windows Configuration Designer.

  1. Create a configuration XML file with the profiles. The configuration profiles include the lockdown profile, kiosk profile, allowed apps, Start layout and more.
  2. Validate the created XML against XML Schema Division (XSD).
  3. Use the Windows Configuration Designer to build a provisioning package. Add the XML file to the provisioning package.
  4. Apply provisioning package to the device either during the initial setup or after during runtime.

Exiting multi-app mode from a Windows device

Now that you have locked the devices into kiosk mode, you need to know how to exit the kiosk. Hexnode admins have multiple options to exit the kiosk mode from Windows devices:

  • Removing the policy from the device: On disassociating the policy, restart the device with Hexnode’s remote actions. After the restart, the device would no longer be in the kiosk mode.
  • Archiving the policy: The admins can archive the kiosk policy to remove all the policy targets. All the configurations in the archived policy would be removed from the target Windows machines.
  • Exiting from the user end: The methods mentioned above assumes that the Windows endpoints are connected to a network. If it is not connected, then the only option to exit from the kiosk mode would be to exit it from the user end. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to lock the kiosk user and sign in from a different account. The device would be back in kiosk mode if the user logs in to the kiosk account. The only way to completely exit the kiosk mode is if the admin removes it from the Hexnode web portal.

That’s all about multi-app kiosk in Windows devices. Let’s now move on to more mobile options – Android and iOS.

Multi app kiosk for Android

Android devices are a prime choice for frontline workers. The wide range of device options makes it suitable for any environment. For example, rugged devices are good for workers in harsh environments like mines or construction sites. There are some very good kiosk lockdown solutions for Android but it is always better to choose an all-rounder like Hexnode UEM.

Multi app kiosk Android
Construction worker using Android rugged device locked in multi app kiosk
 

Hexnode lets you lock down your Android devices like smartphones, tablets and Android TV into multi-app mode.

How to activate multi-app mode on Android devices?

For Android phones and tablets, kiosk lockdown is even easier than Windows.

  1. Login to your Hexnode account.
  2. Configure the kiosk policy.
  3. Associate the policy to the enrolled Android devices.

With Hexnode, you can activate multi-app kiosk mode in two ways:

Basic View

As an admin, the Basic View gives you a simple way to configure multi-app mode in Android. You can add apps or app groups or even file shortcuts to the multi-app kiosk. Add store apps, enterprise apps, managed google apps or file shortcuts to videos or images to the devices in kiosk mode. You can also change the icon size of the apps and file shortcuts on the screen to a custom size.

Advanced View

The Advanced View is a more user-friendly approach to configuring multi-app kiosk. The admins can use the drag and drop functionality to directly arrange the apps on the virtual device screen. Customize the app icon size, app arrangement for different screen orientations and get an accurate idea of how the multi-app kiosk would look like for the users.

Some features to enhance kiosk mode in your Android device

Using a locked device comes with its own challenges. For instance, what if you have a PDF file shortcut, but there are no whitelisted PDF reader apps? You do not want the user to access the reader app, but you want the user to access the file. Solution? Hexnode’s background apps. Let’s have a look at some features that add to the kiosk mode in Android devices:

  • Background Apps: Just like the name suggests, these apps run in the background of the device. The app icon would not be displayed on the home screen. The user can access these apps only through a kiosk app or file shortcut – for example, the PDF file we mentioned earlier can access the PDF reader if it is added as a background app.
  • Lock task mode: The lock task mode is a setting that allows the admin to disable all system UI features like the home button, notifications, recent apps button and locks the device into an immersive kiosk.
  • Kiosk home screen customizations: The kiosk home screen can be customized to show your organization’s title and logo. You can also define the app icon size as small, medium, large, extra large or custom.
  • Kiosk screensaver: Add videos or images or both to play as the screensaver in your kiosk device. The kiosk screensaver is supported in all Android 4.4+ devices except for Android 10 Go. Shuffle, loop or even add background music to the images and videos added.
  • Hexnode browser: Hexnode kiosk browser opens only the whitelisted web apps and URLs in kiosk mode.
  • Some other settings: There are other customizations you can add for your users – change the device brightness, disable the hardware buttons, show option to exit the kiosk mode manually and many more.

Exiting multi-app mode in Android

There are different ways in which you can exit the kiosk mode in an Android device:

  • Removing the policy from the device: Disassociating the policy from the devices would automatically exit the kiosk mode in Android devices.
  • Disable Kiosk Mode: This one is the simplest method. In the Hexnode web portal, select the devices that are in multi-app mode and select “Disable Kiosk Mode” from the remote actions.
  • Archiving the policy: When you archive any policy, it is removed from all the associated devices automatically. Archive the kiosk policy to exit kiosk from all devices.
  • Exiting from the user end: For Android devices, the user can exit the multi-app mode if the admin has configured an exit passcode. The user can tap anywhere on the home screen a specified number of times, and then enter the exit passcode to exit the kiosk. If you did not configure a kiosk exit code in the policy, you can use the Global Exit passcode instead.

Multi app kiosk for iOS

Multi app kiosk iOS
Kiosk Mode in iPad
 

iPads are a popular choice among schools and educational institutions. iPhones and iPads can be locked into a multi-app kiosk mode with Hexnode UEM.

How to activate multi-app mode on iOS devices?

For iOS phones and tablets, kiosk lockdown is quite simple.

  • Login to your Hexnode account.
  • Configure the kiosk policy.
  • Associate the policy to the enrolled iOS devices.

Just like the Advanced View in Android, you can customize the layout of the kiosk apps in iOS devices. Store apps, enterprise apps, web clips and entire app groups can be arranged on iPhones and iPads using Hexnode’s “Home Screen Layout” feature. Hexnode admins can organize the apps on the home screen and the dock, create new pages and even customize the home screen and lock screen wallpaper for the devices.

An important point to note is that iOS devices need to be supervised before being locked down into a kiosk. According to Apple, supervision is a way to denote that the device is owned by the organization. It gives the admin greater control over the device restrictions and configurations.

Exiting multi-app mode from an iOS device

You can exit the kiosk mode from an iOS device either by removing the policy from the device or by using Apple Configurator 2 If the device is connected to a network, it is best to remove the kiosk policy from the device. When the device is not connected to any network, connect it to a Mac device with Apple Configurator 2 or above installed in it and remove the kiosk profile from the device.

Bottomline

Now, you have an idea on what multi-app mode is, where it is used, how to configure it on Windows, Android and iOS devices and the various features that comes with it. Be it education, healthcare, construction or retail, kiosks are playing a greater role every day. Even the most technically unsavvy user would not get confused while using a shared device locked with multi-app kiosk mode. For employees using locked devices, the devices work as productivity boosters by removing all unnecessary distractions. Like a cherry on the cake, it also lets the admins have greater control over the managed devices.

Sign up for Hexnode’s 30-day free trial to get started with multi-app kiosk management in your organization.

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Emily Brown

Reading is therapy and writing is healing...sincerely, a cool nerd.

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