Virtualize My Citrix World … iPad Style

Last year marked the turning point at which mobile devices worldwide surpassed desktop devices. Depending on where you reside in the world, a smartphone or tablet may commonly be the only computing device a person owns, or it may be one of several devices. Within many enterprises, users are increasingly demanding the ability to access their virtualized resources from their own devices so that they can have the opportunity to work anytime and anywhere.

iPads appear to be the main tablet devices utilized by business users. In particular, the new iPad Pro boasts a 12.9-inch screen, and users may increasingly be adopting this as their universal device—a desktop device when you need it and a completely mobile device for on the go. New technologies to enable a better user experience with those iPads accessing Citrix resources have made some positive strides, but some key functionality was lacking until now.

When accessing XenApp or XenDesktop, users have long been able to integrate a soft keyboard, the X1 Mouse (that’s cool!), and the Apple Pencil. Once those peripherals were enabled, it seemed that it was as easy as “just add apps,” but that’s not quite true.

A few weeks ago, Citrix announced the Receiver 6.1.5 for iOS, which includes support for the Split View feature in iPad and iPad Pro devices. With the ability to show two panels within the screen, a user could watch the Citrix Synergy keynote address on one part of the screen while sending an email to IT leadership about a new must-have technology via the Outlook hosted from XenApp.

But some applications don’t inherently work well when delivered on an iPad from XenApp. In particular, older apps may not show features such as dropdowns or touch buttons, and users may quickly sense that these applications are not iPad friendly. To provide a better user experience, Citrix introduced the “keywords” option in XenApp 6.5. By entering “keywords” followed by specific parameters, the appearance and functionality of designated applications could be improved—to some extent. It wasn’t the required silver bullet to truly make applications iPad friendly.

Then along came hopTo. With a full understanding of the business needs and a couple of former long-term Citrix veterans, a solution has been created for iPad-izing Citrix applications. By using hopTo’s technologies, applications can be refined without code changes. Repeating to be sure you grasped that: no code changes!

Picture your average Citrix administrator who is getting pushback for the appearance and functionality of a new application that is mandated for use by field personnel equipped with iPads. Although the application may appear to function properly when accessed, if it takes users extra time to force particular entries or dropdown menus, they will become frustrated. Without realizing it, this is likely due to older or incompatible code embedded deeply within the application that was probably not visible when testing on Windows devices.

Before hopTo developed its MAX technologies, the only option to address such issues was to go back to the vendor and ask that the application be rewritten. Good luck with that! In case you’ve never asked an app vendor to make code changes, the response is almost always that it will require significant time, needs an expensive customization, or simply cannot be done.

Another interesting aspect of hopTo’s technologies is that they not only apply to touch buttons and text editing, but also can leverage the local device camera for functionality such as scanning bar codes, QR codes, and photos. Going back to the example of field personnel accessing a core application via iPads, whether these users are insurance adjusters or grocery store fulfillment staff, hopTos technologies enable them to access applications efficiently on their issued iPad devices.

Technology is all about the user—or at least it should be. Don’t hold your breath and expect users to call tech support to say how awesome the systems are running today, but if you can enable users to do their jobs better, faster, and more efficiently, that’s a definite win. And in the case of the iPad-related technologies, between Citrix enhancing Receiver for iOS to support the Split View functionality and hopTo’s new MAX technologies, iPad devices are even better suited to provide an optimal user experience for Citrix XenApp.

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