Citrix Receiver for iPad. My review.

So I had a chance to finally get this thing working with our CAGs using two factor authentication with SecurID. Note at this stage the tests were performed on an environment where XenDesktop is NOT used and there is no ‘full desktop’ access to the XenApp backend. It is all done to published applications.

As it is today, on iOS 3.2.2 (as Apple did not release iOS 4 for the iPad), the Citrix Receiver, in this PARTICULAR environment, is lackluster. And I will explain why.

When using published apps the first problem is there is no easy way to switch between apps you are running. When you do it, the app you were on gets disconnected. So if you switch to it again, the connection needs to be reestablished.

The second major PITA is session sharing. If I logon to the web interface and use a regular PC with the Win32 XenApp Plugin and I launch two published apps like Outlook and Windows Explorer, these two run within the same exact session. Not with the Citrix Receiver. When I connect to the EXACT SAME environment, using the SAME credentials, each application runs on a separate session. Major PITA.
A simple idea to fix this crap is to have a Win32 app that grabs your credentials and retrieves from the farm which apps you have published to you that are installed on the server you are and then creates a dashboard with the application names and icons. Then by policy the admin could set something on the farm where if the Citrix Receiver is used, the ‘dashboard’ app shows up as a published app. So the user decides if he wants to launch each app individually or simply launch this ‘launching pad’ where he can see all his apps/icons. This would guarantee session sharing working AND at the same time eliminate the need to go back to the ‘Workspace’ to launch other apps, while still preserving the fact there is no full desktop access. Simple and elegant.

Printing: where the hell is printing? Gentlemen at Citrix, this is not rocket science. You can easily implement a solution that once the Citrix Receiver is detected (for mobile devices) a PDF type printer is autocreated and users then print to PDF files. At the end of the session (or at anytime if you want to) users can then choose to ‘transfer’ (over an ICA virtual channel) these PDF pages to the device and then retrieve these using whatever tool their device uses to sync stuff (HTC Sync, iTunes, etc). Simple as that. The fact there is no printing whatsoever is a show stopper for many places I have been discussing a possible Citrix Receiver + iPad implementation.

Mouse: this also baffles me, giving how simple this is and how easily it could be implemented (I assume the SDK allows that but who am I to question the Apple SDK Gods at Citrix?). If I use the VGA out on the iPad, why Citrix does not show on the iPad screen a picture of a ‘Magic Trackpad’ so the screen can be used as a trackpad? Mirroring the screen and making us click on it is plain simple dumb. Not to mention the lack of visual feedback on where my finger is on the screen when I am moving around.

Of course if you are using a full desktop or XenDesktop you will not see the published apps issue and if you also carry an iPhone you can use that as a trackpad with visual feedback on the screen (a pointer shows up on the screen). Still does not work perfectly but it is much better than clicking on the screen.

I also found some weird issues with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard like having to click on the keyboard icon on the receiver all the time to get it to work, even though it was paired and working on other apps (like Mail). Is it that hard to detect the keyboard is paired, on and use it as the default?

The bottom line for me is, the Citrix Receiver for the iPad does work and does allow me to connect to my apps but the experience is still subpar. Things get better, as mentioned, if you do XenDesktop or full desktops on XenApp but still, with no printing, not being able to use the screen as a trackpad and with no ‘visual feedback’ – a.k.a pointer or show where my finger is, experience is still half assed.

Hopefully Chris and Gus will read this and start fixing what is wrong before releasing a new Receiver WITHOUT these features.

CR

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4 Replies to “Citrix Receiver for iPad. My review.”

  1. No Offense,

    But The Citrix guys reply to you on printing would be that it has been left out of the iPad, not Citrix. If you were to configure Session Printing for you applications on you servers you would have printing. If you want something more than that you will have to do what we are doing and implement Thin Print Cortado.

    I on a different note am having issues roaming sessions from iPads to Thin Clients or Desktops. The resolution from the iPad is being moved with the session or the session is completely freezing.

    -Joe

    1. Hey Joe.

      First of all thanks of the comment. I have no issues with different opinions than mine. 🙂
      But in this case I must say I disagree. 🙂
      On the printing side, sure, iPads do not come with that out of the box and I do understand that. But even on Windows platforms, where printing is available, both Citrix and Microsoft now have their own universal solutions to take care of printing.
      Given the way these were implemented, it would be EXTREMELY simple for Citrix to leverage a mechanism where documents are printed to files (when it detects the Citrix Receiver), like PDFs, and transfers these to the device over a virtual channel. Again, very simple to implement.
      So resuming, I do not see printing on the iPad any different than an universal printing solution (EMF or XPS based) what they ALREADY have and KNOW how to work with it.
      The problem they face now I guess, as you have experienced first hand, is they need to now spend more time tweaking and fixing the existing Receiver than adding more features to it, assuming they keep the development team the same size. If they do throw more resources at it I am sure a balance can be achieved and in that case printing would be coming soon. 🙂
      Bottom line is the lack of printing is, at least for 90% of my customers, a BIG show stopper.
      Cheers and again, thanks for the comment. Appreciated.

      CR

  2. A major issue we are experiencing is switching between Apps. When will this option be available/fixed? In a hospital environment we need to constantly log in to multiple applications. This is critical and would like to know when this functionality will be addressed.

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