Citrix Receiver On Android: Your Desktop Anywhere
December 17, 2009
Citrix's Receiver for Android is available as a Tech Preview (beta, don't use in production, etc) and runs on Android 2.0. Receiver, which Citrix expects to be out of Tech Preview and generally available by Q2 2010. Receiver is the company's universal client for desktop and mobile devices, providing a seamless remote application experience to end users regardless of where they are and what device they are using. Receiver on Android is surprisingly usable, given the Droid's relatively small screen compared to a netbook or small laptop. Receiver is also available for the iPhone and Windows Mobile devices. Blackberry support is planned.
The Android Receiver Tech Preview is impressive. While I wouldn't want to replace my laptop with a mobile device like a Droid--the screen is too small and the keyboard is hard for me to use for extended periods--I can live on it for quite a while if needed. I only had to buy a few applications for Exchange email and Microsoft Office editing to provide enough functionality for me to be productive on the road.
Of course, other enterprise apps such as CAD programs aren't going to be directly available on the Droid or any mobile device, but remote application software like Receiver makes access possible. A nice benefit is that you don't need to purchase those mobile productivity apps for Android users, and you can control the caching of data on the device so in case one is lost, your secrets aren't exposed.
To get the Tech Preview, go to the Android Market on your Android phone and search for Citrix. Install the application and once it is launched, you can register for an account on their demo server. Once you get logged in, you can access the sample desktop applications. I first checked out the Design applications. Citrix has a copy of Autodesk Design Preview and Solidworks eDrawings available. The screens on both updated quickly and by zooming in and scrolling around, I could easily review the drawing and interact with the application. Other sample applications include Microsoft PowerPoint slide decks and Excel spreadsheets. Using Verizon's 3G connection, Receiver was snappy, taking perhaps three to five seconds to load the application. The Powerpoint presentations took a bit longer to load, perhaps 10-15 seconds, but I don't find that unacceptable for a mobile device. I've seen Powerpoint take that long to render on my laptop. I suspect the delay is a combination of 3G and the Droid hardware/software.
Input, however, is more difficult to get right with mobile devices. Small soft keyboards, the lack of readily accessible function keys and tiny physical keyboards can make text input difficult. Most desktop applications require more screen space to be legible than a mobile device can present. Citrix is working to raise the usability of desktop applications on mobile devices.