kiosk mode - lock users in an App

Discussion in 'iPad Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by Kross, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. Kross macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    EDIT: This has turned into my search for a solution. The following thread is updated on my progression to find a viable solution. /EDIT

    <Original Posted Question:>
    Is it possible to lock the user in an application, so that the user cannot exit without a password or some key-stroke sequence? I would like to disable the home and power buttons with a case or software solution.

    Intended Application:
    I want to give my customers iPads when they come into my store. There is an app I would like them to be able to use while shopping.
    Other's have referred to this as "Kiosk Mode" or "Toddler Mode". Put Simply: I want the customers to use the Application, without immediately exiting the application and playing with other applications. The customers need to be free to hold the device, so fixed mounted cases won't work. An ipad kiosk case would work well, if such a thing existed.

    <Answer After Months of Research:>
    It's possible, but not yet pretty.

    Software Solution:
    JailBreak the Ipad, use "IncarcerApp" from Cydia

    If you JailBreak the iPad, you can use "IncarcerApp" from Cydia to lock the user in an Application. IncarcerApp ONLY disables the home button. In my experience with the App, it works great. No crashes thus far. This is the only software solution. Even if you have a private developer working to build a private app for your company, you must JailBreak the Ipad before this functionality is allowed. According to my Developer, once JailBroken, you can also make an App "Start on Boot", and password protect and/or hide all other icons on the home screen. Both "Start on Boot" and hiding/locking other apps is important, in the event the user (customer) decides to "power cycle" the Ipad to exit the App, the intended App should run immediately on Bootup and not allow the user to make any changes to the system without the password.

    Also, on page 4 of this thread, another developer has proposed a jailbreak solution. I can't speak to the validation of such a claim, but the dev seems adamant about providing a solution.​

    Hardware Solution (in development):
    There is no current hardware solution (Ipad Case) currently available. No cases, to my knowledge, are being developed.​

    as of 10/4/2010, I have not heard from the case dev in over 2 weeks. No idea what happened, hoping he reconnects our communication:

    Current Status:
    Application Development:
    Currently, we are working with an amazing developer that we found on Elance. This was our first time to do ANY type of development for any type of software application. Our business does not have anything to do with software, ipads, or really even technology as a whole. We went with one of the higher bids on Elance. I interviewed (on the phone) all bids, and selected an American because of the ease of communication I had with him, and his professionalism. In Short, he and his business has, thus far, surpassed our highest expectations. If your looking for a developer, feel free to email me (click on my name "kross" and "email user") and I'll give you his contact information. I'd post it here, but want to refrain from making this an advertisement.

    Once we have the application finished, we will start to deploy the application in our stores. We will be using the "IncarcerApp" on JailBroken Ipads, until a better solution presents itself (hardware or software). ​

    - Kross
  2. spammerhamster macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2010
    Wow, user lockin.
    That's an app that's so gonna pass the apple-evaluation...

    they probably have to buy something before they get their phone back right? How is that called in windows? Oh yeah... ransomware.
  3. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    I'd love to give my customers Ipads while they shop, (they turn them in when they leave), so they can use an App that will help them while they are shopping at my store.

    But.. I'd rather not give out facebook machines to keep them occupied instead of shopping.

    Is there any way to do this?

    - Kross
  4. spammerhamster macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2010
    an app lockin is of course not possible.

    you can of course just configure your wifinetwork not to let them get out of the store's webaddress.
  5. Pushkar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    SW London, UK
    You could just jailbreak them and Hide all the other Apps so they can't do much else...
  6. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    Tru.. I like both ideas.

    If I jailbreak it... can I lock the settings page? so they can't go in and change anything?

    that way they can go back into the App if they want, otherwise the iPad is useless?
  7. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    If you were writing your own app, I'd recommend joining the Enterprise Developer Program. Then, your app can do pretty much Anything It Damn Wants. Easy enough to add a passworded exit from the app. (And hope it doesn't crash!) Passworded exit from an app won't fly in the App Store, but with the Enterprise Program you don't distribute through the app store, and aren't subject to it's restrictions.

    But it sounds like you want to give them an existing app.

    I'm afraid jailbreak sounds like the only way. As one poster mentioned, you could restrict Internet access at the router or firewall. But that doesn't solve the "settings" problem. You need the "settings" app to go away, or at least not be shown on the screen.

    I know museums have shown considerable interest toward iPod Touch and now iPad. Wonder how they've been solving it? Of course, if they write their own app, then the Enterprise Program is the way to go.
  8. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68020

    PBG4 Dude

    Jul 6, 2007
    If you're a paid iPhone developer you can write programs to do whatever you want on your phone/pad/pod. It's only when you want to distribute it via the app store that Apple's app store policies take effect.
  9. tico24 macrumors 6502


    Jun 17, 2007
    Eastleigh, UK
    The 'restrictions' setting in Settings will enable you to restrict access to:
    installing apps

    It's a start, but it's all the iPad will allow.
  10. bbtrinet macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2008
    The easiest way to do this is to put the iPad in a special case where the home button is concealed so it can't be clicked. This case should also have something in it to ensure nobody walks away with your iPad. The case must also have some sort of lock.

    It is not possible to disable the home button in software on a non-jail broken phone.
  11. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    Let me make sure I understand.

    so if I get an App coded for me, and I'm a paid developer...

    I can put that App on all of my iPads manually? and the AP can do anything I want (like password to exit program) without Jailbreaking?

    - Kross
  12. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    same question I asked in my last "quoted" post...

    So if I get my own App written for me, I can manually put it on all my iPads I purchase and it can do "Anything it Damn Wants" including password on exit, etc... Without Jailbreaking? (this is sounding really good so far)

    - Kross
  13. thedarkhorse macrumors 6502a

    Sep 13, 2007
    you might be out of luck outside jailbreaking. Unless you find/alter a case so that the home button is completely blocked off from being pressed.
  14. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    Can anyone answer the questions I gave to PBG4 Dude or ptara?

    basically just want to know:

    So if I get my own App written for me, I can manually put it on all my iPads I purchase and it can do "Anything it Damn Wants" including password on exit, etc... Without Jailbreaking?

    - Kross
  15. skubish macrumors 68030


    Feb 2, 2005
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7E18 Safari/528.16)

    Yes if you write own app and join the developer program, you can have the app do whatever you want.
    The Enterprise Developer Program is for companies to develop their internal apps to use inhouse.
  16. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008

    Perfect. Thats exactly what I want to do anyways. This will be my first experience with getting an App written. I'm sure there are tons of resources and websites to hire coders. Any recommendations?

    And are there forums on this board or elsewhere, where I can ask questions specific to the capabilities of the OS for coding? (ie: is it possible to keep a user in an App, etc etc). So that I can be better prepared to instruct the coder-for-hire on what the app needs to do.


    - Kross
  17. Ivan P macrumors 68030

    Ivan P

    Jan 17, 2008
    Sorry, I can't help it, before you keep posting please remember it is 'app' and not 'AP'.
  18. Pushkar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    SW London, UK
    What exactly do you want done? Like a Shopping List app? You pick the Product, it will calculate the Price, you bring it to the till or wherever and you Pay?

    What's your business?
  19. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I can't believe you want to hand a device with at least $500 street value to customers browsing your retail establishment. Surely you have thought about some kind of security?

    Does the customer give you a credit card when they get the iPad and they get the credit card back when they are done browsing?

    I remember getting rather expensive looking audio players when I visit the museum but they aren't very attractive as theft items because they are single purpose devices. Anybody can get an iPad into DFU mode and restore it to factory state by doing 5 minutes of googling. Surely you aren't hoping your "locked in" app is going to make the iPads less attractive for theft, right?
  20. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    Oops, yea. You still may be out of luck. There may be no way to defeat the Home button. But there might be, as well. There's nothing stopping you from using private APIs if you're an Enterprise developer. Dunno, you'd have to do some research.

    Quite aside from this, there are some relatively easy ways to do your own app without actually writing tedious Objective-C code, especially for the type of thing you are interested in.

    There are the "app generators", which basically put a pretty shell around an RSS feed from your website.

    And there is some new thingie for Adobe CS3 that makes it possible to generate an app.

    Apple has been cracking down on the "crap generators", but it seems that certain ones are being allowed to go forward.
  21. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    I stumbled across a solution! (You'll still need a special case to prevent use of the "home" button, though.)

    There's an iPad web browser that will lock the user into a specific web page or site. That would be a low-cost solution vs. developing an app. And if you make use of some iPad-specific browser features, you can probably come pretty close to an "app experience".

    Check out AVD Browse

    There's also an ad-supported free version that you can use to check it out at no cost.

    The company that makes this apparently does A/V installations for museums in Israel. So, they solved a problem they had by writing their own app.

    Since the app's description mentions the use of a special holder to prevent use of the home button, I thought their web site might point to some products. I didn't find anything there with a quick glance, but I did find this that you may find useful:

    Technical Note TN2262: Preparing Your Web Content for iPad
  22. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    jtara: wow.. i can't thank you enough.I really appreciate the info.

    I'm currently getting a few quotes from, we will see how that works out. Any other suggested spots to search for reputable dev's?

    I'm going to price getting the App developed for me. Then see how I want to proceed. Either way, I do want to know what case they are using that hides the home button. (even if its disabled, or disabled with a password.. would just be nice to hide the "BIG RED BUTTON that says DONT PUSH ME" (if ya know what I mean)

    - Kross
  23. SteveAbootman macrumors 6502a


    May 12, 2008
    After reading through the whole thread I just have one request OP - please call it an "app" or "application". AP is the Associated Press!

    Best of luck with your app though. I hope everything works out.
  24. Kross thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008

    Corrections being made throughout post now...

    <moderator please change title from "Ap" to "App", thanks>
  25. mklnk macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2010
    There are a few book-jacket style cases that cover the bezel and have a little cutout for the home button. Might be as easy as getting one of these cases and putting the ipad in upside down so the button is covered.

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