Developers
October 12, 2020

Kiosk Software: An Established Industry Experiencing a Renaissance

Kiosk software is experiencing significant growth, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kiosk software is an easily overlooked segment of the software market and represents a unique opportunity for developers. Especially in 2020, kiosk software is experiencing a significant period of growth.

What is the kiosk software? What options are there? What is prompting its growth? How can developers benefit?

What Is Kiosk Software?

Kiosk software is designed to provide a safe, limited environment for customers to access, without exposing the underlying system. Often, kiosk software is designed to emulate the underlying system, providing an interface and means of interaction that users are already familiar with. Kiosk software can use traditional input methods, such as keyboard and mouse, or offer touchscreen functionality.

These systems are in use in so many places in day-to-day life that many people are surprised by their ubiquity. Renting a movie from Redbox, purchasing internet access at an airport, using a self-ordering terminal at McDonald's, printing photos at Walgreens, not to mention a myriad of other solutions, all rely on kiosk software to function.

Types of Kiosk Software

Kiosk software is broken into two broad categories: web-based and native, each with its own advantages.

Web-Based Kiosk Software

Web-based solutions are the most popular option for kiosk software. With this method, the kiosk is locked down to only provide access to a specific website or web application. There are a number of reasons this option has become so popular.

First and foremost, just as with the web vs native application debate, web-based kiosk software is often easier and faster to develop and get into production. Alternatively, if a company’s products already revolve around web applications, much of the code can be reused. Many times, the only real modification needed is added touchscreen support.

In addition, because it relies on the same client-server model as all web applications, a web-based kiosk has the benefit of being easy-to-update. While this may not be a big issue with only one or two kiosks, it becomes a major consideration with companies operating hundreds or thousands of them. Rather than updating one kiosk at a time, a development team can simply roll out the update to the server-side application, with all client kiosks benefiting.

Security can be another benefit, as little to no information is stored on individual kiosks. Should a kiosk be hacked or stolen, there’s nothing of value to be compromised.

Native Kiosk Software

Native kiosk software, in contrast, is designed using the APIs, frameworks, and languages native to the underlying operating system, be it macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS or Android. As with web-based options, there are a number of advantages to this approach.

One of the biggest advantages is the ability to operate with little to know internet connectivity. While web-based kiosks require an internet connection, one using native software has all the information it needs on the local hardware. As a result, this is a much better option in situations where internet access is slow or intermittent.

Performance is another big advantage of native applications. Without the latency involved in communicating back-and-forth with a server, native applications are only limited by the hardware they run on. Similarly, the more people access a network of web-based kiosks, the more strain it places on the server. This can result in slower performance for everyone. Kiosks that rely on native software are not subject to this limitation.

Another potential benefit is the ability to roll out targeted upgrades. With web-based kiosks, because the software is upgraded on the server, all kiosks are upgraded simultaneously. In contrast, native application kiosks are updated one at a time. This gives the ability to test out new features and options on specific kiosks, without impacting all of the others.

Why the Market Is Exploding

Despite how widespread kiosks are, the market is by no means saturated. In fact, according to Grand View Research, the kiosk market was worth an estimated $27.3 billion in 2020. What’s more, the market is expected to hit $41.9 billion in 2025.

One of the biggest drivers of this growth is the coronavirus pandemic. As companies have rushed to adopt safe, contactless methods of doing business, self-service kiosks have entered the spotlight. This has led to the adoption in industries that have traditionally not used kiosks.

The Opportunity For Developers

While many industries have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, kiosk software represents an area that will continue to experience significant growth. As with many things born out of a world-altering event, once adopted, kiosks will likely remain the standard method of doing business, even in industries that had previously shunned them.

For developers, this represents a market that will offer job security for years and decades to come. Best of all, most developers will be able to take the skills they already have and easily adapt them to kiosk software development.

TagsKioskDeveloperSoftware Development
Matt Milano
Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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DevelopersOctober 12, 2020
Kiosk Software: An Established Industry Experiencing a Renaissance
Kiosk software is experiencing significant growth, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kiosk software is an easily overlooked segment of the software market and represents a unique opportunity for developers. Especially in 2020, kiosk software is experiencing a significant period of growth.

What is the kiosk software? What options are there? What is prompting its growth? How can developers benefit?

What Is Kiosk Software?

Kiosk software is designed to provide a safe, limited environment for customers to access, without exposing the underlying system. Often, kiosk software is designed to emulate the underlying system, providing an interface and means of interaction that users are already familiar with. Kiosk software can use traditional input methods, such as keyboard and mouse, or offer touchscreen functionality.

These systems are in use in so many places in day-to-day life that many people are surprised by their ubiquity. Renting a movie from Redbox, purchasing internet access at an airport, using a self-ordering terminal at McDonald's, printing photos at Walgreens, not to mention a myriad of other solutions, all rely on kiosk software to function.

Types of Kiosk Software

Kiosk software is broken into two broad categories: web-based and native, each with its own advantages.

Web-Based Kiosk Software

Web-based solutions are the most popular option for kiosk software. With this method, the kiosk is locked down to only provide access to a specific website or web application. There are a number of reasons this option has become so popular.

First and foremost, just as with the web vs native application debate, web-based kiosk software is often easier and faster to develop and get into production. Alternatively, if a company’s products already revolve around web applications, much of the code can be reused. Many times, the only real modification needed is added touchscreen support.

In addition, because it relies on the same client-server model as all web applications, a web-based kiosk has the benefit of being easy-to-update. While this may not be a big issue with only one or two kiosks, it becomes a major consideration with companies operating hundreds or thousands of them. Rather than updating one kiosk at a time, a development team can simply roll out the update to the server-side application, with all client kiosks benefiting.

Security can be another benefit, as little to no information is stored on individual kiosks. Should a kiosk be hacked or stolen, there’s nothing of value to be compromised.

Native Kiosk Software

Native kiosk software, in contrast, is designed using the APIs, frameworks, and languages native to the underlying operating system, be it macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS or Android. As with web-based options, there are a number of advantages to this approach.

One of the biggest advantages is the ability to operate with little to know internet connectivity. While web-based kiosks require an internet connection, one using native software has all the information it needs on the local hardware. As a result, this is a much better option in situations where internet access is slow or intermittent.

Performance is another big advantage of native applications. Without the latency involved in communicating back-and-forth with a server, native applications are only limited by the hardware they run on. Similarly, the more people access a network of web-based kiosks, the more strain it places on the server. This can result in slower performance for everyone. Kiosks that rely on native software are not subject to this limitation.

Another potential benefit is the ability to roll out targeted upgrades. With web-based kiosks, because the software is upgraded on the server, all kiosks are upgraded simultaneously. In contrast, native application kiosks are updated one at a time. This gives the ability to test out new features and options on specific kiosks, without impacting all of the others.

Why the Market Is Exploding

Despite how widespread kiosks are, the market is by no means saturated. In fact, according to Grand View Research, the kiosk market was worth an estimated $27.3 billion in 2020. What’s more, the market is expected to hit $41.9 billion in 2025.

One of the biggest drivers of this growth is the coronavirus pandemic. As companies have rushed to adopt safe, contactless methods of doing business, self-service kiosks have entered the spotlight. This has led to the adoption in industries that have traditionally not used kiosks.

The Opportunity For Developers

While many industries have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, kiosk software represents an area that will continue to experience significant growth. As with many things born out of a world-altering event, once adopted, kiosks will likely remain the standard method of doing business, even in industries that had previously shunned them.

For developers, this represents a market that will offer job security for years and decades to come. Best of all, most developers will be able to take the skills they already have and easily adapt them to kiosk software development.

Kiosk
Developer
Software Development
About the author
Matt Milano -Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

Related Articles