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iPad vs. Android: The Great mPOS Debate

by Andrea Victory

Rare is the person who is on the fence with their tablet preference. When it comes to your personal phone, your laptop, and your tablet, the battle between iOS and Android, Apple and everybody else, is a game of allegiances. Those allegiances could be won based on anything from your partner’s preference to available color options.

Those who assume the Android camp do so for the customization potential, the more succinct notifications bar, and more options for multimedia uploading. When it comes to flexibility for developers, Android seems to win much of the popular vote.

While this is true, when you’re a restaurateur running a hopping joint, with menu modifications coming out the wazoo, high table turnover and numerous staff, you’re depending on your tablet, your mPOS app, and your operating system to keep operations smooth. A glitch or user error anywhere from kitchen to server to bar, dominoes from table to table and could compromise the success of an entire night, not to mention return customers.

Apple’s out-of-the-box, easy to use tablets are the best choice for restaurants looking for a simple solution that works consistently. Android devices have their merits, for sure. While their customizable functionality might lead the charge in some arenas, when it comes to restaurant POS, those perceived benefits can actually be a hindrance.

Here’s how the two compare.


In a tech popularity contest, Android would win in the smartphone category, but Apple’s iPad is by far the tablet of choice.

While reports show that Android has the majority of the smartphone market share globally, Apple is the dominating force of tablet technology in North America. iPad users generated four times the web traffic that Android tablets did.

What does this mean for North American restaurants? It means that iPads are the tablet your customer and your staff are familiar with. This is especially important if your restaurant is growing fast, has customer-facing mobile POSs, or frequent staff turnover. Step one in choosing a new technology is to implement an operating system that is simple. If everyone is already familiar with it, you’ve already won half the battle.

In an interview with Software Advice, we asked POS software expert Justin Guinn why iPads are so prevalent in the market. He said, “The reason many restaurants choose an iPad POS is because they’re ubiquitous in the space. They’re the proven tablets from the consumer side, which is where people typically have their first experience with tablets. Having that locked down makes them an easy first choice. They’re relatively affordable, and scalable as far as payment options go. Very rarely do you see apps that are offered exclusively on other platforms. They’re mainly available for iPad users.”

So simple, even babies can use it, which leads us to the next point…

User Experience

Apple iOS is out of the box and simple. Android is customizable and supports the complex.

One of the main benefits of Android is that it’s flexible. Developers have more leeway when it comes to creating apps and customers have more leeway in customizing their experience of the tablet. According to Jonathan Bray in his review of the systems, he found: “There are all manner of ways you can tweak and fiddle with the user experience on an Android tablet: you can replace the keyboard, install a launcher to get the home screen looking just the way you like it, or even replace the OS entirely with a customized ROM.”

If you’re as lost as we are by that last part, you should probably go with iOS. As one tech reviewer put it: “There’s a reason babies love iPads and I side with the babies. […] Android is for tinkerers, iOS is not. Most people agree that you use Android if you enjoy messing around on your phone and you use iOS if you just want something that works.”

When it comes to implementing an iPad POS system restaurant-wide, including staff and customers with a wide variety of technological experience, the last thing you want is a custom, complicated user experience. You want out of the box simplicity and that’s exactly what Apple aspires to.

And their simplicity comes at a price. Apple’s research and development budget reached a whopping $14 billion dollars. With the latest release of iOS 9, their goal was to make the use of the devices even easier. One article reported that, “The next phase of technology is all about it learning our behavior and adapting to our needs, not forcing us into its pre-determined ideas about how the world works. iOS 9 isn’t here to change your life. In fact, it’s here to do the opposite: The goal of iOS9 is to help you change as little as possible.”

For the restaurateur who’s not out to further complicate their operations, the unobtrusive nature of iOS is favorable. As one TouchBistro customer put it, “Easy is exactly what I want out of a POS. I don’t want to think about it.”

Software Updates & Security

iOS app updates are streamlined. Android app updates are fragmented.

With Apple’s iOS, updates are one size fits all. Android app updates need to be released and configured on multiple devices, which can result in a lag for the rollout of updates, simply because there are so many devices to contend with.

This goes for security too. Since mPOS apps are now used as a rich source of customer data and other sensitive information, security is a nonnegotiable that restaurateurs need to be concerned with. How does iOS ensure security?

According to review site Merchant Maverick: “iOS security updates occur regularly and automatically, across all Apple devices. With Android, Google leaves it up to the individual device manufacturers and service carriers to work together to issue security updates. This means important security updates can take months to reach all Android devices. Also, once Android devices are 18 months old, you may need to buy a new device to continue receiving important security patches.”

iOS is generally known to be less virus prone than all other operating systems. Apple explains, “iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are designed with layers of security. Low-level hardware and firmware features protect against malware and viruses, while high-level OS features allow secure access to personal information and corporate data, prevent unauthorized use, and help thwart attacks.” With iOS, you can be sure that your information is secure on all levels. When updates to security happen, there’s no lag and no change in your user experience.

In conclusion, it’s easy to get sucked into the ol’ iOS vs. Android debate, but for restaurateurs, the choice is rather easy. Go with your needs, what your staff knows and your customers are familiar with: a simple, reliable, and easy to use iPad.

Interested in the most popular iPad POS?

Andrea was a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she wrote about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.

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iPad Screenshot with TouchBistro software
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