Like any major technology deployment, there are several factors to consider when choosing a platform for self-service kiosks. Fortunately, today’s readily available consumer tablets provide a significant advantage over yesterday’s bulky, expensive, and low-resolution solutions.
Still, tablet-based kiosks vary greatly in price, performance, and functionality. Further, there are countless solutions to consider in terms of hardware, software, and peripherals like payment add-ons.
So, if you’re seeking a self-service solution for your brick-and-mortar locations you’ll need to narrow down the field. A good place to start is the kiosk operating system.
While there are others, the three main tablet operating systems to consider are Android, iOS, and Windows. Here’s a detailed comparison of each platform in five main categories: cost, performance, software options, support, and security.
While the cost of a tablet-based kiosk solution may seem straightforward, there are a number of factors that can contribute to the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your solution. First, let’s consider the components.
Trends in the tablet market aren’t easy to predict. In 2014, market research firm Gartner forecasted that by 2018 more than half of all users would choose a tablet or smartphone before a laptop for their online activities. That didn’t quite pan out.
Laptops still remain the go-to device for working on the move. Further, since Apple’s iPad burst onto the scene in 2010, Apple still remains the market leader for tablets with more than double the market share of second-place Samsung.
In spite of the iPad’s continued success, there are signs that the tablet market for consumers is actually shrinking.
When it comes to cost, Android tablets from Lenovo (Lenovo Tab – $119) or Samsung (Samsung Galaxy Tab – $193) tend to come in cheaper than base model iPads (10.5” iPad – $329). Windows tablets, on the other hand, are priced on the high end as they emulate laptops both in performance and in price.
To create a solution that is durable enough for enterprise and that meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), most self-service kiosks include some type of stand and enclosure.
Tablet enclosures for iOS, Android, and Windows all come in a wide array of mounting options, each with varying degrees of durability. For simple anti-theft stands without additional functionality like payments or scanning, kiosk enclosures can be less than $100 each on Amazon.
You’ll find kiosk hardware and peripherals for each of the main platforms. However, the devices used and features may vary.
Aila’s iOS-based Interactive Kiosk for iPad includes integrated scanning, various mounting options, and attachments for printers and payment terminals.
The last price-related consideration to make is arguably the most important: total cost of ownership. Factors that impact the cost of ownership of your kiosk solution include the lifespan of your device, as well as the cost of upgrading, maintaining, and troubleshooting, your kiosks.
In the same way you need to consider maintenance and mileage costs when buying a new vehicle, you’ll want to consider the operational costs of deploying a fleet of kiosks as well.
Where do Android, iOS, and Windows devices fall on the TCO spectrum?
- Android devices may tend to cost less out of the box. However, they also are often limited in terms of upgradeability and durability.
- iOS devices tend to receive several years of OS upgrade support and are built to Apple’s strict manufacturing standards.
- Windows devices share the problem of being built by several different manufacturers. However, the household names of Dell and Microsoft have built their reputation on consistently reliable devices.
Regardless of what task your customer is performing on the self-service kiosks, you can bet that they will have zero patience for poor performance.
Think of the last time you used an in-aisle price checker that was slow or malfunctioning. Many of the antiquated price checkers that line the aisles of today’s stores aren’t able to meet basic customer expectations around showing prices quickly and accurately.
Today’s consumer devices have accustomed us to fast, smooth, and intuitive user experiences. Your self-service kiosk experience should be no different.
iOS set the standard for tablet performance in 2010 with the release of the iPad. Nearly a decade later, and users still rate user experience as the main reason they use iOS.
That user experience is backed by high-performing hardware, high-resolution screens, and UI/UX design that provides a consistent experience across iOS devices.
For this reason, Apple iPads secured five of the top ten positions on techradar.com’s best tablet of 2019 roundup.
Android, iOS, and Windows are each well-established platforms with rich developer ecosystems.
Further, development frameworks like Xamarin and Apache Cordova that make cross-platform development more efficient. Similarly, web applications are not platform-dependent, and while they aren’t ideal for complex use cases, they can be a great option for simple check-in or price checking.
Prior to deployment, businesses have to decide if they need custom software or whether they’re able to download an app. Both the iOS and Android app stores have a wide selection of apps. However, most enterprise use cases will require internal and external resources for development, integration, and installation. In other words, tablet-based self-service kiosks aren’t a plug-and-play deployment.
Once you’ve launched your new self-service kiosks, you might be ready to forget about them for a while. However, when you have your first issue with the software or hardware, you’ll wish you were more prepared for the troubleshooting and maintenance process.
Let’s start with getting support for your tablets themselves.
Apple is known for tight restrictions on their both its hardware, in terms of manufacturing and repairs, and software, in terms of a closed operating system and highly regulated app store. These restrictions have their benefits in terms of security, stability, and support for Apple devices.
AppleCare for Enterprise provides 24/7 technical support, on-site service, and repair/replacement for up to 5% of your devices. Apple also claims that they can repair or replace your devices within one business day.
Your self-service kiosk enclosure will most likely bear the brunt of damages in your brick-and-mortar locations. So, you’ll want to choose a kiosk provider with strong warranties and robust customer support.
Software support and updates
Getting support for the latest versions of your tablet’s operating system and software updates for your app can increase the lifespan of your solution and improve the user experience of your customers.
After a failed run at a mobile OS, Microsoft has pushed all of its Windows-based tablets to Windows 10 which has a tablet mode and access to a kiosk mode. Windows also has a number of mobile device management (MDM) solutions due to its long history of enterprise use.
Updates and support is where iOS shines. Where many Android kiosks lose support for the latest versions of Android within a couple of years, iOS devices tend to be fully supported for five years or more. iOS 13 for example, is available for devices as old as the iPhone 6s, which was released back in 2015.
The updates are popular with users, with a 50% adoption rate less than a month after the release of iOS 13. Android 10 had only achieved 10% adoption after nine months on the market.
Software and OS updates are vital to long-term success in enterprise deployments. Not only do they provide important improvements and bug fixes, but they also address security vulnerabilities, our next topic for comparison.
The proprietary nature of iOS and its exclusivity to Apple devices is a strong advantage for iPad-based kiosks in terms of device security. All apps in the Apple App store are reviewed by an employee in the company’s App Review division. While this makes it more difficult to push an app to the App Store, it also helps ensure that users and businesses can trust the apps they download.
Windows operates with a similar level of discretion—apps in the Microsoft app store are also manually reviewed. However, since Windows tablets mostly run Windows 10, the tablets share many of the security vulnerabilities of Windows PCs.
Android is an open-source mobile OS, meaning it is free to download and free to alter. While this has advantages in terms of encouraging innovation and competitive pricing, it does come with risks to security. Nokia’s threat intelligence report found that Android devices were nearly 50 times more likely to be infected by malware than Apple devices.
For enterprises deploying custom, locked down apps on their kiosks, following security best practices is paramount regardless of which operating system they choose.
Using kiosks that are physically secure, with no open ports can prevent theft or the installation of malware onto the device. Further, ensuring your tablets are in kiosk mode with limited access to other apps can prevent device tampering.
Learn more about why iOS provides an ideal platform for self-service innovation.
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