Sharing is caring: Chromebooks get public managed sessions for kiosk use

Google has added a new feature to Chrome OS that makes it easy to turn a Chromebook into an internet kiosk that doesn't require a log-on.

Google has introduced a new feature for devices that run its Chrome OS platform that make it easier for the Chromebook devices to be shared in public places without the need for each user to have login credentials.

As the devices tend to be low-cost — aside of Google's Chromebook Pixel — and are easy to set up and use they have made some headway in organisations such as schools, libraries and in some businesses. Now, managing the devices used in this way should be easier thanks to the introduction of managed public sessions.

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Administrators have full control over what the user can do via a web-based console and can restrict elements such as what apps and sites open when a user logs in, configure device inputs and outputs and set timed sessions that automatically log a user out when the time is up. Admins can also custom brand the homepage, and have ultimate say in which sites and apps are accessible from the devices.

The company announced the new feature on Tuesday, adding that it had already trialled the option with customers. Google forsees potential uses to include:

  • Shops ordering out-of-stock items
  • Searching for books and browse the web at a library 
  • Updating machine and inventory info from the factory floor 
  • Accessing the company portal and updating HR information from the employee break room 
  • Catching up on work in a hotel business centre

US department store Dillard's is among the companies piloting the Chromebook kiosks.

"We have many more employees than computers at our retail stores, so being able to share devices is key. With managed public sessions, employees can walk up to any machine and get immediate access to their corporate email and important internal systems. And since managed public sessions wipes all data at logout, it supports our PCI compliance requirements," Woody Chin, CIO at Dillard's, said in a statement.