Web Development

Lock down browser usage with SureFox Kiosk Browser

Jack Wallen takes a look at SureFox Kiosk Browser, one of the best solutions for controlling what web sites your users can browse on Android and iOS tablets.

In a recent article, I demonstrated how easy it is to lock down a tablet with SureLock Kiosk Lockdown. But even with that powerhouse app in use, you can't easily specify which sites a user can go to. And what if the only thing you want control are the sites a user can view? Fortunately, there's an outstanding tool for this called SureFox Kiosk Browser.

With SureFox you can:

  • Restrict users to selected web sites
  • Password protect access to browser settings
  • Completely hide the home button and disable the bottom bar on Android 3.x Honeycomb devices (when used in conjunction with SureLock)
  • Lock screen orientation
  • Enable/Disable zoom
  • Show/Hide title bar
  • Show/Hide web site address in the title bar
  • Show/Hide busy indicator while loading web pages
  • Disable auto suspend
  • Remove exit from context menu
  • Control visibility of context menu
  • Remotely deploy configuration (HTTP or file transfer)

Along with the above, the browser also features:

  • Tabbed browsing
  • URL categories on the home page for easier navigation
  • Full screen mode
  • HTML 5 support
  • Flash support
  • Browse local web pages on the device

There are two versions:

  • Free: Some limitations
  • Full: No limitations. A single license is $34.99; 10 licenses for $249.00; 50 licenses for $599.00: and  100 licenses for $999.00.

Installation

As you might expect, the installation is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open up the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "surefox kiosk browser" (no quotes)
  3. Tap Install
  4. Tap Accept & download

Once it's installed, you'll find the app launcher in the app drawer. Tap the launcher to open SureFox.

Usage

You'll find SureFox to be similar to SureLock. The app displays a simple white page (Figure A) with no apparent means for browsing to a web site. Figure A

SureFox on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Follow these steps to add allowed web sites to the home page:

  1. Tap anywhere on the empty space five times in a row
  2. Enter the password "0000" (no quotes) in the Password box, and tap OK
  3. Tap Allowed Websites from the SureFox Settings window
  4. In the Add/Edit Allowed Websites screen, tap Add URL
  5. In the Add URL screen (Figure B), enter the information for the web site to be allowed
  6. Tap Done
Figure B

If you tap the Shortcut button, a shortcut for the URL will be created on the tablet home screen.
Once you exit out of the settings window, you'll find the SureFox page now has icons representing the web sites you've added (Figure C). Figure C

TechRepublic represented on SureFox.
You'll also notice, once you've started SureFox Kiosk Browser, that there's no apparent means of exiting the browser. In order to do this, you must go back into the settings (tap the screen five times and enter the password). From the SureFox Settings window (Figure D), tap Exit SureFox. Figure D

The Done button exits the settings window.

You can also add categories, which allow you to better organize your SureFox main screen. To add a category, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Surefox Settings window
  2. Tap Manage Categories
  3. Tap Add
  4. Enter a name for the new category
  5. Tap Done
Once you've added categories, you can then assign a URL to a specific category from the Add URL screen. To do this, tap Assign Category and select the category from the overlay. Now, the SureFox home screen will have icons for each category (Figure E). Figure E

Tap on a category to reveal the included URL icons.

Should you decide to purchase a license for SureFox, here's how you activate the product:

  1. Open up the Surefox Settings window
  2. Tap About SureFox
  3. Tap Activate
  4. Enter the activation code you received upon purchase
  5. Tap Activate

The limitations will now be removed.

If you're looking for a way to control what web sites your users can browse on their Android and iOS tablets, take a look at SureFox Kiosk Browser. It's one of the finest solutions for web access you'll find.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

2 comments
Ken Wolf
Ken Wolf

wish I could find a similar browser for Windows PCs. Currently trying to lock down about 50 PCs to be able to access only certain sites. Not many browsers or apps that support whitelisting.

mkyoung
mkyoung

Clicking on the link brings you to the Google Marketplace.... I did not see anything to indicate support for Apple.

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