Citrix on Apple’s iPad: A Teaser
Earlier this week I spoke with Byron Attridge of ClubDrive. The backbone of their business involves Citrix. I’ll share more details on April 26. In the meantime, ClubDrive was kind enough to give me a virtualized demo account to play around with, and I’m running the using the Citrix client on Apple’s iPad. Here’s a few details on what I’ve seen, and some implications…
The Citrix app for Apple iPad works insanely well. Plug in a few login credentials and you’re off to the races. There’s nothing too special or too fancy. Nothing too complicated. Once you’re logged in, you have a few options: a complete virtualized desktop — or an account like I was offered — virtualized apps.
Each App can be added to your ‘desktop’ of apps, and come complete with a little virtualized screen shot of the app you’re running. Unfortunately, since my account offeres ‘virtualized apps’ and not a ‘virtualized desktop,’ I can’t exactly try out all the ‘multi-tasking’ that you’d be able to do with a full desktop. But that doesn’t detract from explaining how well Ctirix’s app and virtualization work.
I’ve tried a VNC app on my iPad to connect to my Mac at home, and the result was less than stellar. If I needed to remotely shut down a machine, make a few tweaks, or check the progress of a download, that’s great, but any real work? Forget about it. Long refresh rates, delays on clicks, bumpy and clunky controls.
The Citrix app is the complete converse of that.
The on-screen menu pulls down from a quick tap, or shake the iPad for the on-screen menu to drop down instead of pulling it. Click “keyboard” to show the on-screen keyboard (or use the wireless bluetooth one.) There’s a scroll lock for scrolling through web-pages or documents. There’s even multi-touch gestures for right clicking, and the ability to pair an iPhone as a ‘trackpad’ for your virtual environment. (So that means, bluetooth keyboard, plus iPhone plus iPad = a complete virtualized Windows (or Linux) desktop.)
The screen refreshes at a very acceptable rate with little compression and apps load fast. It’s obvious that it’s being virtualized, but it’s not slow enough to stop you from working. In fact, slow isn’t even the right word, because the back-end is smart enough to figure out what it is you’re doing, and diverts resources to the correct task. For example: when typing in MS Word, there is a half-second of delay, and then it’s completely smooth. When resizing a window, there’s a split moment of registering the touch, and then it’s completely smooth. Another second later and then it knows you want to scroll through the web page, instead of moving the Internet Explorer window. It’s hard to describe in words, but easy to notice and feel.
I haven’t done any actual work on it yet, but the potential is there for some serious work-related activities. Outlook and PowerPoint loaded up with ease, and multi-tabbed browsing with Internet Explorer feels pretty good. Flash works too, though a tad slow, and no sound.
In short, I’m impressed.
I know this review is quite short, and very simple, but the fact that the Citrix App performs as well as it does now can only mean better things down the line for the iPad and it’s tablet brethren when virtualization on this style of platform picks up.
Will the tablet be your mobile thin-client? Maybe…it just might.