Windows Tablets or iPads: Which Are Best for Mobile POS?

Written by  on 28 December 2015

POS Buyers GuideThe flexibility afforded by mobile POS systems provides a variety of benefits for restaurants. However, if you’re like many foodservice operators, you’ve likely questioned whether you want to leverage mobile POS from Windows-based tablets or iPads that run on an iOS platform. Each type of device offers a distinct set of advantages. Let’s take a look at these.

Windows-based tablets:

  • Offer increased flexibility from a size standpoint. Windows-based tablets are available in a wide variety of sizes, meaning that whether you’re looking for smaller devices for that work in a cramped environment, or larger ones to replace traditional POS equipment at the front of the house or serve as self-ordering terminals, you’ll almost definitely find what you need.
  • Feature an open operating system. The open nature of the operating system on Windows-based tablets supports the use of third-party apps that help operators more easily dictate and control the manner in which the devices are used in a mobile POS environment. For example, when a mobile POS solution incorporates Windows-based tablets, altering Wi-Fi connections and allowing access to particular apps requires little effort.

On the other hand, iOS doesn’t accommodate the use of any third-party software that limits access to iPad devices’ settings menu. This prevents servers or other employees from altering settings (e.g., the Wi-Fi connection) on mobile POS tablets (or any iOS device, for that matter).

iPad devices:

  • Are less confusing to shop for than their Windows-based counterparts. The roster of Windows-based devices that can be harnessed to attain mobile POS functionality is seemingly endless. Conversely, the assortment of iOS-based devices is limited to four options: the iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, and iPod touch—and for the hospitality industry, the first two choices often make the most sense. Additionally, software concerns are eliminated from the shipping process. For example, when you select an iPad, you know software performance will always be optimized. The variety of Windows-based devices makes assurance of optimized software performance on a particular product less than guaranteed.
  • Enable easy credit card integration. Apple has a standard hardware platform—something that doesn’t exist for Windows-based tablets. With this standard platform in place, it is quite easy to find magnetic stripe readers (MSRs) that integrate with these mobile POS tablets. Quite the opposite is true of Windows-based devices on the credit card front. With a myriad of Windows-based mobile POS devices now on the marketplace, manufacturers have been encountering—and continue to encounter—challenges in producing MSRs that attach to tablets in a manner that’s identical across the board.
  • Are “backed” by a wealth of resources. Apple’s App Store features an enormous variety of apps—more than one million active ones, by some estimates. It is an excellent resource for other hospitality-related apps as well.

Just as not every traditional POS terminal is right for every restaurant operation, not every tablet is appropriate for every mobile POS application. There’s no easy answer to the question of whether to opt for Windows-based tablets or devices that run on an iOS platform. Rather, the needs of each business, coupled with such parameters as budget, should dictate the outcome of the selection process.

POS Buyers Guide

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