We’re not entirely done covering new enterprise features in Windows Phone 8.1. Let’s dive into what I would usually call "Kiosk Mode". (At least it’s meant as an enterprise feature, but if you’re the controlling type I suppose you could turn it into a "kids mode on steroids".)
Smartphones are nice devices for enabling the user to do a whole bunch of things, but there are plenty of scenarios where you don’t want the end-user doing all sorts of stuff on their devices. If you control a fleet of delivery drivers who carry a smartphone for keeping track of their routes & pickups, and having the customer sign for the delivery, you don’t want the driver playing Angry Birds on the device on their break. Quite often I hear enterprise customers asking "how do we lock down these devices so the user can’t mess it up"?
We can lock it down by placing it in what we call a "kiosk mode". A kiosk mode alters the interface so the end-user can only access very specific parts of the operating system. Most of us face these kinds of interfaces almost every day; paying for bus tickets on an unmanned machine, withdrawing money from ATMs, etc. And I think I’m not the only one to be happy that I face a simplified UI focused on the specific thing I’m trying to achieve.
iOS has what they refer to as "Guided Access" to put one app in focus, and while Android has no Google-provided feature (that I’m aware of) you can lock down Samsung devices by using their enterprise APIs.
Windows Mobile (old school pre-Metro) also had the ability to lock down the UI fairly good back in the day. Technically kiosk mode wasn’t officially supported or sanctioned, but is was possible to implement nonetheless through different tweaks.
Windows Phone however hasn’t had any ability to do this until now. With the 8.1 version bump Microsoft adds a kiosk mode, but prefers to call it "Assigned Access". The naming is in line with 8.1 non-phone, however how it works is not fully synchronized between the two operating systems. This post will focus only on the Windows Phone implementation.
The Assigned Access features consists of more than just slapping one app in front and saying that’s all you can use. You could say that you create a set of apps and settings to compile a complete kiosk experience.
The kiosk mode can to the best of my knowledge only be configured through MDM.