Android, iOS or Windows: Which OS is best for Self-Service Kiosks
As more businesses look to self-service kiosks to drive productivity and sales while maintaining the need for social distancing, today’s readily available consumer tablets provide a significant advantage over yesterday’s rigid, bulky and expensive legacy devices.
Like any major technology deployment, there are several factors to consider when choosing a platform for self-service kiosks. A good place to start is the kiosk operating system.
Today, the mobile and tablet landscape is comprised of three major OS players: iOS, Android and Windows. Here’s a detailed comparison of each platform in four main categories: performance, security, support, and cost.
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 or self-checkout kiosk that was slow or malfunctioning. Today’s consumer devices have accustomed us to fast, smooth, and intuitive user experiences.
When it comes to processing power, there seem to be some clear winners and losers. Based on Geekbench 5 scores comparing 2019 iPad 10.2″ and 2018 12.9″ iPad Pro vs the leading “enterprise” Android Kiosks, the benchmark concluded that these Android devices had the same processing power of iPhone 5s which debuted in 2013.
As of June 2020, that places major Android-based kiosks a decade behind competing iOS devices. Even when using a web app, local processing plays a big role in ensuring a responsive user experience, high-performance scanning (although this is unique to Aila), and overhead to support future requirements as the demands of the application and operating system inevitably rise.
If you want to deliver a truly seamless experience that consumers have come to love and expect, iOS comes out on top.
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.
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 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.
Android and Windows tablet manufacturers have similar enterprise support programs, such as Samsung’s business portal and Microsoft’s enterprise services.
Software support and updates
Getting support for the latest version of your tablet’s OS 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 are 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 availability of iOS updates may be unmatched.
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.
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.
When it comes to tablet 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.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
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.
When it comes to deploying customer-facing and self-service kiosks, architecture matters. The first rule of transformation is to continuously design great experiences your customers value. But what your customers will value is always changing. Rather than deploying point solutions on disparate technologies that deliver sub-par experiences and age quickly, simplifying your in-store technology can have one of the biggest impacts on TCO.
To create self-service solutions that are durable enough for large-scale deployments and meets the needs of today’s consumers and tomorrow’s, a simple “tablet on a stand” won’t do.
Aila’s iOS-based Interactive Kiosk for iPad includes integrated scanning, various mounting options, and attachments for printers and payment terminals that can solve for over 90% of customer-facing use cases. By support use cases like check-in, price checking, loyalty sign ups, BOPIS, checkout and more, businesses can focus on delivering great customer-facing experiences, and not on supporting technology throughout their stores.
By leveraging iOS, our customers continue to run a modern OS with 5+ years of update support and unrivaled performance for a great user experience through the life of the deployment. Our vision technology further relies on the processor and camera of the local device, allowing us to provide capabilities that are not replicable on enterprise android/windows alternatives.
Aila’s platform is most differentiated anytime scanning is involved – whether barcoding, ID capture, OCR, and other machine vision/learning use cases – as we eliminate the cost and performance trade-offs associated with add-on peripherals typically purposed for these tasks.
Learn more about why iOS provides an ideal platform for self-service innovation.
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