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Android POS Systems and iPad POS Systems: How They Compare

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See how Android POS systems compare to iPad POS with this breakdown of the features of each, and which environments they're best for.

Cloud-based POS systems are rapidly becoming the go-to choice for restaurant owners who realize the advantages a cloud system can provide: cost savings, increased mobility within the restaurant through handheld devices, remote access to data, and more frequent feature updates.

Handheld options both increase efficiency and improve guest interactions, and many tablet POS systems on the market use iPads — in part due to Apple's ubiquity and popularity among consumers. 

But is a consumer-grade solution the right answer for the rigorous and widely varying restaurant environment? 

Android POS systems may be more suitable for the restaurant environment because of the durability and flexibility offered by Android software and hardware. 

Let’s dig into why. And to help you evaluate the tools along the way, you can download the POS comparison guide and check out the Toast vs competitors compare page.

How do Android POS and iPad POS compare? Here are four essential features that distinguish these types of products.

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Android POS Systems vs. iPad POS Systems

1. A Highly Customizable Experience

Android as a mobile operating system is known for being open and flexible — allowing developers to have more control over the software and app experience. Apple's closed environment limits not only when and how an app makes it into the App Store, but it also restricts the flexibility developers have to customize the experience within an application.

What this means for restaurants: Flexibility is key 

Flexibility is critical in the restaurant industry, because no two restaurants are the same. From concept and ingredients to the kitchen or checkout workflow, there are hundreds of customizations a restaurant team may need in order to optimize every aspect of operations. In the fast-paced restaurant environment, a delay of a second or two in closing out a check can have a compounding, rippling effect  —  just as missing an order or hiring too few bussers for closing can ruin an experience or a sale.

At Toast, for example, customers have requested dozens of specific customizations — like a bigger font for the kitchen printer, larger POS screen buttons, and control over sharing tips with non-tipped employees. Your restaurant, too, likely has unique needs. Each restaurant is unique in its technology needs and operational workflow to exceed guest expectations. Ultimately, flexibility is a core feature of POS systems for restaurants.

Android POS systems can offer an experience more tailored to your specific restaurant environment. Instead of forcing a restaurant's desired workflow to fit into what Apple apps will support, an Android POS app can adapt to a restaurant's needs.

What’s more: Toast hardware has been custom-built for restaurants on the Android system and has helped them adapt to the challenges of 2020. Toast’s products allow your own specific restaurant to operate faster and safer, including products like Toast Go 2. Toast Go 2 reduces unnecessary contact through contactless payments and seamlessly flexes between service models — whether you're fulfilling orders curbside, doing more takeout, or opening your patio. 

2. Speedy Software Updates

Both Android and Apple systems offer regular software updates. But there have been frequent reports of Apple updates causing apps on iPhones, iPods, and iPads to crash or break.

And these updates doesn’t happen automatically. In order to deliver a seamless experience to its restaurant customers, a POS company must get access to the new version of the OS, update and test the app, and then publish the update.

The key difference between Android and iOS here is that iOS apps need to go through a review and approval process every time an update gets to the app store, making the issues your restaurant is experiencing much slower to fix.  

What this means for restaurants: Less frustration, smoother operations

It's not uncommon for Apple to release an iOS update that causes an iPad POS system to break, while the POS company scrambles to develop an update and push it through the approval process. You may find emails or tweets from the POS company warning about installing a new operating system until the software company itself is able to develop and approve its own app-based update.

Since Android has an open system, OS updates cause less of a disturbance and support a smoother overall operation.

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3. Flexibility in Hardware Device Sizes or “Form Factors” 

While Apple offers beautiful hardware that consumers love, there are only a handful of very specific form factors available: 8 to 12-inch for iPads and 5-inch for iPod Touch.

Meanwhile, there are dozens of manufacturers and hundreds of Android device models, in various sizes. Android also comes in small form factors such as a 5-inch phones but scales to much larger form factors, upwards of 22 inches.

What this means for restaurants: Choose your own devices/interface

The key here is again the flexibility restaurants gain to use the technology and hardware devices that are best suited to their specific needs. 

Often, quick-service restaurants focused on fast turnarounds will prefer a large form factor or larger interface, in order to fit as much onto a single screen that allows staff to select faster. Conversely, a full-service restaurant or nightclub might prefer a small format to stay mobile and serve as many customers as possible without having to return to a central terminal or sacrifice functionality.

4. Durable Yet Affordable Hardware

You may veer toward Apple devices for their sleek design or user-friendly experience for your own home and personal use. But the temperature in your home kitchen probably isn’t quite as severe, and you’re probably much less likely to spill drinks on your iPad or drop it on the floor in your home. 

In other words, the daily wear and tear on these devices in restaurants is very different from the expected consumer use of devices like iPads. Many Android device manufacturers specialize in developing restaurant POS solutions that have the ability to withstand a more damaging environment, while also being more affordable than Apple products.

What this means for restaurants: Cost savings 

Android POS hardware is more reliable in a demanding restaurant environment: It’s literally built specifically to handle extreme daily usage. What’s more, Android tablets are much more affordable than their Apple counterparts — both at initial installation and in the case of replacing devices that are dropped and broken. 

Toast Go 2 was created in part to address a punishing restaurant environment. It combines software and payments on a beautiful device built to withstand the rigors of the restaurant industry: It is spill, grease, and drop-resistant. The durability of the Toast Go 2 tablets gives you one less thing to worry about in a busy restaurant kitchen — and it's built to fit in your servers' pockets.

The Bottom Line

In a side-by-side comparison of Android POS and iPad POS systems, Android is the clear winner.

Android systems offer four essential advantages that iPad POS systems can’t compete with. And it also offers something even more valuable: Peace of mind.

There are hundreds of things that can go wrong in the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, but your technology shouldn’t be one of them. Your POS system should be reliable, durable, affordable. And most importantly, it should be built for your industry and the people you serve. 

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