How to use an Android tablet as an always-on single app kiosk

Many people want to dedicate an Android tablet to run just one app, displayed continuously like a kiosk.

This can be useful for digital signage, point of sale systems, interactive menus, home automation control panels, and many other dedicated functions.

With some configuration, you can lock down an Android tablet to only run a single app. This prevents users from exiting the app and provides a kiosk-like experience.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the steps and options for setting up an Android tablet as a dedicated kiosk device for a single app.

Choosing an Android tablet for kiosk use

The first step is to choose an appropriate Android tablet. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Screen size – Select a screen size suitable for your use case. 7-10 inches is common.
  • Resolution – A high resolution screen will provide a better experience. Look for 1920 x 1080 or better.
  • Aspect ratio – Widescreen 16:9 ratios are good for video, 4:3 ratios better for vertical apps.
  • Processing power – Choose a tablet with decent specs to run your app smoothly.
  • Storage – 16GB or 32GB is usually sufficient storage for a kiosk.
  • Connectivity – WiFi-only or LTE models depending on connectivity needs.
  • Ruggedness – Rugged or water/dust proof tablets can be better for harsh environments.
  • Price – Balance specs against budget constraints.

For home and business use, there are many capable Android tablets available for under $200 that can work well as kiosks. Higher-end models provide better performance and durability.

Some top models to consider:

  • Amazon Fire 7/HD 8 – Cost effective Amazon tablets.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A – Quality mid-range Samsung slate.
  • Lenovo Tab M10 – Budget 10-inch Lenovo tablet.
  • Microsoft Surface Go – Premium portable 2-in-1 detachable.

Select a tablet that fits your requirements and budget. Stick with major brands for better support.

Installing and setting up the kiosk app

Once you’ve selected an Android tablet, the next step is to install and configure the app you want to use for the kiosk.

If the app is available on Google Play, install it normally from the Play Store. For other apps, you may need to allow installation from “Unknown sources” and sideload the APK.

After installing, open the app and complete any required setup steps:

  • Create an account/login if needed.
  • Allow required permissions.
  • Adjust app settings for kiosk use.
  • Populate with any required data/content.
  • Test app functionality before locking down tablet.

Make sure the app functions properly in full screen. Configure auto-rotate if needed. Close other unneeded apps.

Optionally, create a new user profile dedicated for the kiosk app to keep it isolated.

The goal is to have the app fully ready to display before locking down the rest of the tablet.

Limiting Android to single-app kiosk mode

Now we need to configure Android to restrict access to just the kiosk app. There are a few ways to achieve this:

Using App Pinning

Android’s built-in App Pinning feature allows locking to a single app. To enable:

  1. Go to Settings > Security > Advanced > App Pinning
  2. Turn on App Pinning and configure options:
  • Lock device when unpinning – Requires PIN, pattern or password to unpin app
  • Ask for unlock pattern before unpinning – Adds additional confirmation step
  1. Open Recents view – Tap app icon at top and select Pin

This pins the app until you long press both Back and Recents buttons to unpin.


  • Simple native Android feature.
  • No additional software required.


  • Limited administration options.
  • Can be bypassed if device not fully locked down.

Using Kiosk Apps

There are dedicated “Kiosk” apps on Google Play that provide more robust locking capabilities:

  • Fully Kiosk Browser – Locks device to a web app or website.
  • Kiosk Mode App – Kiosk for any app plus device administration.
  • App Kiosk Mode – Whitelist app locking and system controls.

These let you fully restrict the tablet to just specified apps via advanced restrictions. Key features:

  • Prevent access to settings/system apps.
  • Disable hardware keys.
  • Loop through apps.
  • Custom branding/wallpaper.
  • Device administration APIs.

Paid versions add remote management for multiple devices.

Using Mobile Device Management

For larger deployments, a mobile device management (MDM) solution provides centralized device control. MDM software allows remotely configuring tablets into locked-down single app kiosk mode.

Popular MDM platforms like VMWare AirWatch, ManageEngine MDM, and Microsoft Intune include dedicated Android kiosk configuration features:

  • Enforce single app mode remotely
  • Prevent access to other apps/settings
  • Device security policies
  • Remote monitoring and management

Evaluate costs against needs when choosing an MDM platform for Android kiosks.

Launching the kiosk app on boot

To have the Android tablet automatically launch the kiosk app on bootup:

  • Enable Stay awake – Settings > Display > Advanced > Screen timeout > Stay awake.
  • Disable sleep/Daydream – Settings > Display > Advanced > Sleep.
  • Auto-start app – Use “AutoStart” apps like Tasker or AutoRun to launch app on boot.

This ensures the kiosk app launches immediately when powered on and stays on.

Some MDM platforms also allow specifying an auto-launch kiosk app that starts on boot.

Disabling unnecessary hardware and features

For a dedicated kiosk device, you’ll want to disable any unneeded Android features:

  • Disable buttons – May need to disable capacitive home/back/app buttons so they can’t exit the kiosk app depending on method used.
  • Disable WiFi/Bluetooth – Turn off wireless if not needed.
  • Disable cameras – Disable front and rear cameras if not required.
  • Disable rotation – Force to landscape/portrait mode.
  • Disable status bar – Hide top system status icons.
  • Disable lock screen – Disable ALS/lock screen passwords if not needed.

Use your kiosk app or MDM’s device restrictions to disable unwanted functionality.

Setting up the physical kiosk hardware

Some final steps to set up the physical tablet kiosk:

  • Mount securely – Use a wall mount, floor stand or counter kiosk enclosure appropriate for the environment.
  • Power supply – Use a continuous power source, ideally hardwired to avoid plug disconnection.
  • Physical security – Add enclosure locks and tamper-proof screws if needed.
  • Protect wires – Secure any loose cables or wires from user access.
  • Accessibility – Ensure kiosk display positioning and height is accessible.
  • Lighting – Don’t place in areas with glare or direct sunlight.

Proper physical configuration helps the Android tablet kiosk safely provide continuous service.

Compliance considerations for public kiosks

There are some compliance factors to consider when deploying kiosks in public spaces:

  • ADA compliance – Follow accessibility guidelines for screen height, control reach range, audio output.
  • HIPAA compliance – Avoid PHI/PII collection on public kiosks, use screen filters.
  • PCI compliance – Tablets used for payments require proper cardholder data protections.
  • COPPA compliance – Any collection of data from children requires parental consent.
  • CAN-SPAM compliance – Comply with email marketing regulations if kiosk captures emails.
  • CAFE compliance – Content filtering requirements may apply to public internet kiosks.
  • FCC/CE compliance – Verify wireless kiosk tablets meet certification requirements.

Consult a legal/compliance team to ensure kiosks adhere to relevant laws and regulations.

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