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Set up Single-Purpose Devices

As an IT administrator, you can configure Android 6.0 Marshmallow and later devices as corporate-owned, single-use (COSU) devices. These are Android devices used for a single purpose, such as digital signage, ticket printing, point of sale, or inventory management. To use Android devices as COSU devices, you need to develop Android apps that your customers can manage.

Your customers can configure COSU devices:

App pinning vs. lock task mode

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduced two new ways to configure Android devices for a single purpose:

This graphic compares the features of app pinning and lock task mode:

Figure 1. Comparing the features of app pinning in Lollipop vs. Lock task mode in Marshmallow and later

In Lollipop, you can pin a single application to cover the full screen, but only apps whitelisted by the device policy controller (DPC) can be locked.

How to use LockTask mode

To use LockTask mode, and the APIs that manage COSU devices, there must be a device owner application installed on the device. Device owners are a type of device policy controller (DPC) that manages the whole device. For more information about DPCs, see the EMM Developer’s Overview.

If you’re creating a new COSU app, we recommend you develop it for Marshmallow or later, which includes the following COSU features:

Note: If you develop COSU features targeted for Marshmallow devices, your app can still be compatible with prior versions of Android.

Additional COSU management features launched with Marshmallow make it easier to develop and deploy Android devices as a single-use device. If you want to enforce server-side managed configurations or server-side profile policy controls, you need to use an EMM or make your application a DPC. Follow the instructions below as you create your application.

Build COSU solutions

There are two different ways to manage COSU devices:

Solutions managed by a third-party EMM

In this section, you’ll need to do a small amount of development to have your device work with a third-party EMM.

Using startLockTask()

If you need to add COSU functionality to an existing app, make sure that the customer’s EMM supports lockTaskMode.

Starting from Marshmallow, if your app is whitelisted by an EMM using setLockTaskPackages, your activities can automatically start lock task mode when the app is launched.

Set the lockTaskMode attribute

The lockTaskMode attribute allows you to define your app’s lock task mode behavior in the AndroidManifest.xml file:

To have your activity automatically enter lockTaskMode, change the value of this attribute to if_whitelisted. Doing so causes your app to behave in this manner:

Example XML as follows:

<activity android:name=".MainActivity" android:lockTaskMode="if_whitelisted">

Given either of these options, you still need to create a mechanism for calling stopLockTask() so that users can exit lockTaskMode.

Advanced setup—Create your own DPC app

To manage applications in COSU, you need a DPC running as device owner to set several policies on the device.

Note: This setup is advanced, and requires a thorough understanding of the EMM concepts described in the EMM developer overview. For more information about building a DPC, see Provision Customer Devices.

To create a DPC app that can manage COSU device configuration, the DPC needs to:

  1. Provision the device into device owner mode. We recommend that you support provisioning with near field communication (NFC) bump. For more information, see Device Owner Provisioning via NFC.
  2. Use the following APIs:

Here’s an example of how to implement an activity that starts lock task mode and implements the relevant COSU device management APIs:

public class CosuActivity extends Activity {

    private ComponentName mAdminComponentName;
    private DevicePolicyManager mDevicePolicyManager;
    private PackageManager mPackageManager;
    private static final String Battery_PLUGGED_ANY = Integer.toString(
            BatteryManager.BATTERY_PLUGGED_AC |
            BatteryManager.BATTERY_PLUGGED_USB |

    private static final String DONT_STAY_ON = "0";

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

        mAdminComponentName = DeviceAdminReceiver.getComponentName(this);
        mDevicePolicyManager = (DevicePolicyManager) getSystemService(
        mPackageManager = getPackageManager();

    protected void onStart() {

        // start lock task mode if it's not already active
        ActivityManager am = (ActivityManager) getSystemService(
        // ActivityManager.getLockTaskModeState api is not available in pre-M.
        if (Build.VERSION.SDK_INT < Build.VERSION_CODES.M) {
            if (!am.isInLockTaskMode()) {
        } else {
            if (am.getLockTaskModeState() ==
                    ActivityManager.LOCK_TASK_MODE_NONE) {

    private void setDefaultCosuPolicies(boolean active) {
        // set user restrictions
        setUserRestriction(UserManager.DISALLOW_SAFE_BOOT, active);
        setUserRestriction(UserManager.DISALLOW_FACTORY_RESET, active);
        setUserRestriction(UserManager.DISALLOW_ADD_USER, active);
        setUserRestriction(UserManager.DISALLOW_MOUNT_PHYSICAL_MEDIA, active);
        setUserRestriction(UserManager.DISALLOW_ADJUST_VOLUME, active);

        // disable keyguard and status bar
        mDevicePolicyManager.setKeyguardDisabled(mAdminComponentName, active);
        mDevicePolicyManager.setStatusBarDisabled(mAdminComponentName, active);

        // enable STAY_ON_WHILE_PLUGGED_IN

        // set System Update policy

        if (active){
        } else {
            DevicePolicyManager.setSystemUpdatePolicy(mAdminComponentName, null);

        // set this Activity as a lock task package

                active ? new String[]{getPackageName()} : new String[]{});

        IntentFilter intentFilter = new IntentFilter(Intent.ACTION_MAIN);

        if (active) {
            // set Cosu activity as home intent receiver so that it is started
            // on reboot
                    mAdminComponentName, intentFilter, new ComponentName(
                            getPackageName(), CosuActivity.class.getName()));
        } else {
                    mAdminComponentName, getPackageName());

    private void setUserRestriction(String restriction, boolean disallow) {
        if (disallow) {
        } else {

    private void enableStayOnWhilePluggedIn(boolean enabled) {
        if (enabled) {
        } else {
                    Settings.Global.STAY_ON_WHILE_PLUGGED_IN, DONT_STAY_ON);

    // TODO: Implement the rest of the Activity

Develop a test plan for COSU

If you’re planning to support a third-party EMM, develop an end-to-end testing plan utilizing the EMM’s app. We also provide testing resources, which you can use to create your own Test Device Policy Client (Test DPC):

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