The Beginner’s Guide to Chrome Kiosks

There are endless possibilities for what you can do with kiosks. Whether you are using them for point-of-sale systems in a business or for testing purposes in a school, kiosks are sure to increase productivity while saving you money. Here’s exactly what you’ll need to start using your Chrome device as a kiosk and have a smooth deployment.

What you need to set up a Chrome kiosk

Hardware

For hardware, you need a Chrome device and a display.

  • Chromebox: A Chromebox runs the same OS a Chromebook does, and you can upgrade its RAM. One advantage Chromeboxes have over Chromebits is that most of them have higher RAM and storage than Chromebits. Common brands include Asus, HP, Dell, AOPEN, Acer, and Lenovo. Chrome kiosk example: Chromebox drawing
  • ChromebitChromebits are sometimes called “A Chromebox in a stick” because they give you full Chrome power, but are smaller than a candy bar! Their main advantage is their tiny size, so if device footprint is a major consideration for you, then a Chromebit might be your best bet. Chrome kiosk example: Chromebit drawing
  • Chromebase: Chromebases are desktops with fast booting speeds and 1080p displays. Some are touchscreen, which enhances kiosk interaction. Chromebases can come with or without touch support and have 1080p output over HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces. i3 and i7 Chromeboxes support full 4k resolution. Common brands include LG, Acer, and AOPEN. Chrome kiosk example: Chromebase drawing

Software

For software, you’ll need a Chrome license and a Chrome kiosk app:

Common Kiosk Questions

A Chrome kiosk can be any type of computer kiosk hosted on a Chrome device, such as digital signage in airports, a restaurant menu, or an interactive game. They’re commonly used as business center computers where users walk up, browse the web, and all of their session data is wiped when they end their session.
Kiosk mode is when a device is running an application full-screen. Users won’t be able to exit or navigate to other browsers or windows.
Common business use cases for kiosks are POS systems, cataloging, and as devices for check-ins, ticketing, and ordering.

Common education use cases for kiosks are testing, library catalogs, photo booths, and visitor sign-ins.

Chrome apps are similar to desktop software programs you install on your computer. The main difference is that you use apps directly within Chrome.

Chrome apps have access to Chrome Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) and services that aren’t available to traditional websites. They look and behave like native apps, and they have native-like capabilities, but these capabilities are much more powerful than those available to web apps. You can build and deploy powerful apps- like music and video streaming and editing applications- that interact with network and hardware devices and media tools.

While Chrome apps deliver an experience as robust as a native app, they are as safe to use as a webpage.

A Chrome Kiosk App is an application designed for Single App Kiosk mode on your Chrome device. They have a single-purpose use, such as guest registration desks or library catalog stations and are useful for environments that require a user to interact with a single application.

Chrome kiosk apps are packaged Chrome apps that are designed to always run in full-screen mode using single-app kiosk mode on Chrome OS. They don’t allow users to exit the app. Any Chrome app can be a Chrome kiosk app if you select to run it as a kiosk app and set kiosk_enabled to true in your app’s manifest file. However, applications designed to be full-screen apps work best.

A Chrome kiosk app can be launched manually or set to automatically launch when the Chrome device boots up. Once a Chrome kiosk app starts, the application’s abilities and settings define the user experience.

With public sessions, multiple users can share the same Chrome device without needing to sign in. For example, you could add public sessions to a Chrome device and use it as a help kiosk, loaner device, shared computer, or any other purpose where users don’t need to sign in. With public sessions, your users can have a full browsing experience with multiple non-full-screen websites. Public-session kiosks are popular in libraries, business centers, and business lobbies because users don’t need credentials and the app deletes all session data when users exit their session. Learn more about public sessions here.

Alternatively, Single App Kiosk mode focuses on a single application and is a full-screen experience. They’re great for a purpose-built Chrome device, such as a guest registration desk, a library catalog station, or a point of sale system in a store.

Yes, but you can only automatically log in to one type of session or app at a time. For example, if you select Auto-Launch Public Session, you can’t set Auto-Launch Kiosk App on the same device.

Note: For large files, such as video billboards, you can configure a Chrome device to use external storage using the chrome.fileSystem API. For example, if you have a digital sign that features video content that’s 300 GB, and your Chrome device only has 16 GB of storage, you can use an SD card or USB to store the content for offline use.

You can use both Chrome App Builder and Chrome Sign Builder to make your kiosk app. Use the App Builder when content resides at one URL and the URL doesn’t change, and use Sign Builder when content resides at multiple URLs.

Chrome App Builder creates a simple HTML5 kiosk app with a customized user experience.  You’d use Chrome App Builder to create a Chrome kiosk app when the content URL isn’t going to change. Examples are an online catalog, point-of-sale software, or printing a boarding pass in an airport. The URL for these kiosks wouldn’t change (even though the URL content might). The Chrome App Builder lets you set session idle timeout and restart session controls. This will clear out user data between sessions. This is important for digital kiosks where the user interacts with the app, such as a ticket printing kiosk.

Chrome Sign Builder creates a schedule to display a digital sign. In most cases, the content displayed in digital signs requires more than one URL. For example, a restaurant kiosk would have separate URLs for the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Learn how to use Chrome Sign Builder here.

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