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Single versus Multi iPad Solutions


Chapter 1. How Many iPads Do You Need?

It’s really easy to determine which version is for you. Answer one question:

“Do you need only one iPad?”

If yes, you need the solo license. If no, that is your venue needs two or more iPads running TouchBistro, then you need a Dual, Team or Unlimited license and you need to run the TouchBistro Pro Server.

Chapter 2. Counter vs Table Service

If your Point of Sale (POS) remains fixed on the counter, for example you’re a café that doesn’t offer table service, or you offer table service but your front of the house is pretty much a one woman/man operation, then solo license is your choice. All data is stored on the iPad locally.

If you have need for multiple iPads, say a fixed POS and one or more additional iPads for table service, you need a Dual, Team or Unlimited license running the TouchBistro Pro Server. the Pro Server handles venues that need multiple iPads that all synchronize with one another.

Chapter 3. Wi-Fi vs Internet

Before we get into Pro Server, let’s explain the solo setup:

You setup an Airport Wi-Fi router. You plug in a receipt printer and an optional kitchen “chit” printer into the Airport router. You also plug in a standard electronic cash drawer. Your iPad connects with the router over Wi-Fi. Your router talks to your printers and cash drawer. When TouchBistro wants to talk to the receipt printer to print out a receipt for the customer, it talks to the router over Wi-Fi. “Tell the printer to print this receipt!” The router then sends the print order down the wire to the printer and a receipt is printed.

It’s important to remember none of this leaves your router and travels over the Internet. Nothing goes from your iPad to the router then to the Internet then to TouchBistro’s servers and then all the way back to your router. It’s all done on local Wi-Fi. This means TouchBistro is fast. Really fast.

Chapter 4. Do I Actually Need the Internet?

We all need the Internet these days. As far as TouchBistro goes, you need an Internet connection for the following features or actions:

1. To download new updates.

2. To process integrated credit card payments.

3. To enable or use certain third party integrations such as 7Shifts, Avero, Wisk, etc.

4. To email your iPad reports or receipts.

5. Update your cloud reporting.

6. For some support or training issues, TouchBistro Support might ask you to use desktop sharing software like TeamViewer or Join.Me.

Ultimately, the core of TouchBistro — 90% of what you’re using TouchBistro for — works using your iPad or iPads and your router. If your Internet connection suddenly slows down, TouchBistro isn’t slowed down waiting for a distant cloud server to send you data. If your Internet connection goes out, you can still run your business and work with cash. And TouchBistro can also set you up to work off a backup 3G/4G connection to process credit card orders for a truly bullet proof solution.

Chapter 5. More About the Pro Server

As you can see with the solo version, you can keep your iPad at your counter. You can take customer orders and cash them out at the counter. Or you can take the iPad off the counter and “line bust”, work down the line taking orders and payments. But let’s say you’re a traditional restaurant. You have wait staff, sections, and even multiple floors. You want each staff member to have TouchBistro on an iPad or iPad Mini. You want a manager to have her/his own iPad and an ability to see real time sales reports, manage staff hours, and do end of day stuff. You also have a POS at a counter for takeout orders or those people who like to get up from their table and pay at the counter. You sound like a Pro!

Here’s how TouchBistro would set this up:

On the left it’s pretty similar. Although instead of one iPad asking the router to communicate with other hardware (“Router, tell the printer to print a receipt!”) we have multiple iPads that can talk to the router. In terms of iPads, we have a fixed POS at the top, one iPad for a manager, and two Minis for tableside ordering. TouchBistro Pro can handle more iPads. Dozens, in fact. But we just wanted to keep the image as uncluttered as possible.

You’ll notice on the far right we have something new. We have our Airport wired to a Mac computer. This is the Pro part. The Mac is running a special piece of TouchBistro software called Pro Server. We give you that for free.

When anything is entered into any of the iPads, it all gets sent to the router which then passes it on to the Mac. The Mac saves everything down on its hard drive and then updates all the other iPads with the same information. So if server John takes an order, all those details are immediately sent to the Mac computer (courtesy of the router). The Mac computer then sends that data to the other iPads. Manager Robin can check her iPad and see what John is up to, what tables he has, what he’s sold so far. On the other side of the room, let’s say sever Betty seats a table of four. Again that information is sent to the Mac computer and sent out to all the other iPads. Manager Robin can see Betty has seated four people at a table.

The Mac computer just doesn’t sync everything out. The Mac computer hosts the One True Version of your restaurant. This way, you don’t have to backup multiple iPads or recreate your floor plan and menus on each iPad. You create your restaurant on one iPad, upload it to the Mac, and the Mac syncs it out to all other iPads. If you add a new item or change a price, you change it on one iPad, upload the new data to the Mac, and the Mac reflects the new changes across all your iPads. You can also quickly back up your restaurant at the end of the night to a thumb drive or the cloud. And if disaster strikes (say, theft of your hardware), you have everything on a thumb drive and you can quickly reinstall and get everything up and running.

Chapter 6. What About Data Security?

TouchBistro’s local Wi-Fi solution ensures speed. A 100% cloud-based POS sacrifices speed for the convenience of allowing a third-party to maintain the integrity of your restaurant’s data. Backing up TouchBistro yourself is actually not difficult. If you’re a solo user, just plug your iPad into a computer running iTunes and back it up with one click. If you’re a Pro user, just drag and drop one file to a thumb drive.

See Also

Do I Have the Right Printer?

Hardware, Payment, and Third Party App Support