Guided Access vs. Single App Mode

As part of our instructions for keeping visitors inside Kiosk Pro, we describe how to use Guided Access to lock the iPad to a single app and disable the Home button.  

Single App Mode operates similarly to Guided Access, but there are a couple of differences that make it a better choice for many kiosk projects, specifically: 

  • In the scenario where an iPad becomes disconnected from power and the battery drains completely, the iPad shuts down.  When it is reconnected to power and rebooted, an iPad in Single App Mode will relaunch the app and remain locked, where a device in Guided Access mode will return to the Home screen and disable Guided Access. 
  • For projects where the Home button is exposed, an iPad in Guided Access mode will show an on-screen alert each time the Home button is pressed, where an iPad in Single App Mode will not.

Placing a device in Single App Mode requires that that device be supervised. Supervision is a mode designed by Apple specifically for institutionally-owned devices that unlocks a number of management features, including single app mode and silent app push. Supervision also allows you to restrict many iOS apps and features not appropriate for a kiosk-mode device - for example, disabling Siri or restricting access to the App Store, Game Center and/or Safari.

Existing devices can be supervised using a free Mac app called Apple Configurator or using a third-party software called GroundControl.  If you are purchasing new devices for your deployment, you also have the option of having Apple add the supervision prior to purchase through the Device Enrollment Program

Once a device is supervised, it can be placed in Single App Mode in several ways:

  • through the same Configurator software used to supervise the device. Using Configurator to supervise and start a Single App Mode session links the iPad to the Mac computer running Configurator.  To exit thie type of Single App Mode session, you must be able to physically connect the iPad back to that specific Mac - this can make it a poor choice for projects with kiosks in multiple locations. 
  • remotely through a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution like JAMF or SimpleMDM. To exit this type of Single App Mode session, the device must be able to connect to the MDM - if the device loses its network connection and is unable to reconnect (for example, if the password changed on the WiFi network), you would need to wipe the device with a factory restore to exit.
  • directly in Kiosk Pro's settings.  If you are using our Plus or Enterprise version, you also have the option of launching an Autonomous Single App Mode session from within the app.  Use of an MDM is required to install a required configuration profile, but the session is started and stopped locally on the device, rather than remotely so it does not rely on a network connection.  You can set the app to start a session automatically when it it launched or trigger a session manually on demand.  To exit a session, you open the app's settings using the standard touch gesture and passcode and tap a button to unlock.

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