Citrix XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack reformats apps for Android devices

Using corporate apps on mobile phones can be cumbersome. With the new Citrix XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack, delivering and using apps on Android devices is simpler. Here's why.

Citrix released the XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack as part of its Receiver for Android 3.0 update in December, improving...

the way Windows applications are delivered and used on mobile devices.

Most mobile clients work the same way as their PC or Mac counterparts. That is, simply showing the desktop on the device. Mobile clients were enhanced with pinch and zoom functionality so that relatively normal screen resolutions can still be used, as well as various mouse/keyboard features, but that is about as far as usability enhancements go.

With the XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack, Citrix offers a solution that reformats a XenApp-provided desktop so that it's easier to launch apps and navigate on mobile devices (no XenDesktop support yet). It does this by identifying the mobile device's specific characteristics and giving icons and menus a native look and feel.

With published applications, the functionality goes one step further. The Citrix Receiver on the device, paired with the Mobility Pack installed on the server, is aware of the different areas of the screen being remoted. Because of this, it can deliver apps that look and behave in a native way. For instance, it brings up the local touch keyboard when selecting a text field in Outlook.

There's even a software development kit (SDK) available that lets IT create mobile versions of applications (presumably just a front end to certain functions) that makes the apps appear even more native on mobile devices. This functionality was previously called Project Golden Gate and was created by Citrix Labs.

The SDK also provides access to the mobile device's local hardware, so it's seemingly possible for developers to deliver, via XenApp, applications that can be location-aware using the device's GPS, for instance. The devices buttons, camera and phone/SMS interfaces can also be exposed.

At this point, it only works with Android devices, and I've read about people having issues with the latest Android version (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Though it is limited to only XenApp at this point, I expect to see XenDesktop support in the future. If you have any experiences with it, leave a comment or shoot me an email. As more updates come out, especially support for Apple iOS, I'll get my hands on it, too. I'm sure this will be all over the place at Citrix Synergy 2012 in San Francisco in May.

In the meantime, if you'd like more information, you can check out a video from Citrix Synergy or the Mobile Email project created as a demonstration of Project Golden Gate.

Read more from Gabe Knuth

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabe Knuth is an independent industry analyst and blogger, known throughout the world as "the other guy" at BrianMadden.com. He has been in the application delivery space for over 12 years and has seen the industry evolve from the one-trick pony of terminal services to the application and desktop virtualization of today. Gabe's focus tends to lean more toward practical, real-world technology in the industry, essentially boiling off the hype and reducing solutions to their usefulness in today's corporate environments.

This was last published in January 2012

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Although it works well I was slightly underwhelmed. Yes the new desktop shell looks good and easy to operate, however the application settings are minimal i.e invoking the keyboard when in any text field and remote combo boxes, however these only work on Andriod not IOS. In addition after using it for 5 minutes the auto invoking of the keybaord becomes annoying as you may move around an app without wanting to type into every single text field that might get the focus, so that gets switched off pretty quick, leaving just the remoting of the combo boxes.

So you are still left with a Windows designed app on a mobile device which is still clunky. I was kind of expecting Citrix to have done what they did to the desktop to the apps, as it is all about apps, the desktop is getting less and less important.

Having said that the SDK seems to provide developers with the ability to provide these kinds of significant improvements to apps, and I hope that ths is the area that Citrix spends its development time on for this product going forward, building more of this type of functionality into the product, as well as internal company developers, which requires that companies make the most of it if they want this functionality.
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