Citrix ICA client for the iPhone. Would you care? - Brian Madden -
Brian Madden Logo
Your independent source for desktop virtualization, consumerization, and enterprise mobility management.
Brian Madden's Blog

Past Articles

Citrix ICA client for the iPhone. Would you care?

Written on Jul 16 2008 17,699 views, 37 comments

by Jack Madden

Last month, Citrix showed a mockup of what an ICA client for the iPhone could look like:

This video created a lot of excitement. Personally, I don't understand what the big deal is. There have been ICA clients available for the Blackberry for years, and I don't know anyone who uses them apart from occasional maintenance tasks. But now that the iPhone supports Exchange, and now that the iPhone is so popular that the new workforce will "force" IT to support them, what does this mean for using ICA on the iPhone? Will people actually use iPhones for their jobs, or will this just be a cool party trick?

Citrix's Chris Fleck has blogged extensively about what he calls the "Nirvana" smart phone where he's looking for the perfect device mobile. Could this be the iPhone?


Our Books


Shanetech wrote Yes and No
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 10:05 AM Link To This Comment
Simple mgmt tasks would be nice from the iphone over ICA, however nothing replaces a full screen for document editing/creation and more in depth mgmt activities. But it would be a cool trick at parties, especially since the rubbing your head and stomach at the same time gag is getting old.
Kata Tank wrote iPhone technology... Not iPhone devices
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 10:15 AM Link To This Comment

What is cool is not the iPhone (which is good only to show that you can zoom on your son picture with only 2 fingers) but the way the iPhone just open a new type of interface management.

Remember years ago the 1st ICA client for PDA... it just introduced "paning and scalling" to reflect the small screen form factor.
Some times ago, the ICA client introduced the tablet PC support (with digital ink) for keyboard-less system.
Now, it is time for easy zoom / rotation feature introduction...

Another step in the right direction of universal client... What is good for me is the ability to easy zoom to some part of the screen. This could allow "home-made-old-application" to be delivered to any form factor device...

Clayton wrote iPod Touch too!
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 10:36 AM Link To This Comment
Not sure if I would be willing to enter into a contract with AT&T.  But if they release an ICA Client that would work with the iPod Touch as well, count me in.  The multi-touch interface is what makes the iPhone appealing.  Using the pan/scan with the other mobile clients isn't usuable for performaing any work.  But if the ICA client would zoom and scroll through windows like the the Safari browser, it would definitely work for my remote administration tasks.
Guest wrote Just talking about this
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 10:51 AM Link To This Comment
I just got my first iPhone, and was asking about this.  It would be nice in the case of an emergency.  What does the future hold?
Guest wrote Re: Just talking about this
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 11:54 AM Link To This Comment
The future (hopefully) hold that geeks like you will be isolated from the genral population.
Scott Marlow wrote Iphone would be a great device for Citrix
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 12:20 PM Link To This Comment

The Iphone has such a great touch screen, I can really see this work out very well for light admin senario's.   What I am more curious about is the business use side as this may be a good fit for some highly mobile applications that can't be run off the web.

Brian Madden wrote Re: Just talking about this
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 1:22 PM Link To This Comment
Yes, him and the 5 million other geeks who've made the iPhone the fastest selling phone ever.
Guest wrote Re: Just talking about this
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 1:37 PM Link To This Comment
haha.. I know geeks are out in full swing getting their IPhones.
that was a joke btw to lighten upm the mood after vmware stock tanked
Victor Solis wrote iphone client for citrix
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 4:20 PM Link To This Comment
the beauty of having a ica client for the iphone is that with all of the features that the 2.0 firmware gives to the iphone, you'll soon see many companies adopt iphone into their environment.  once that happens, many people will want to carry a "one device fits all" for their communication needs.  much like the blackberry brought email, web browsing and cell phone technology to the masses, the iphone is poised to take the torch from rim's device.  it makes sense that citrix produce a client that will work on a device that will potentially be carried by so many knowledge workers.  if some enterprising developer ever figures a way to pair a keyboard and mouse, apple may have the future of thin computing on their hands.
Christopher Wilson wrote killer app
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 4:49 PM Link To This Comment

Citrix client for iPhone would persuade me to buy one.  The web browsing on the iPhone is the nicest I've seen on a phone or PDA.  I wouldn't mind the scrolling window as much if you could easily drag the screen around to the portion you need. 


Nick wrote made me laugh
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 6:07 PM Link To This Comment
was a a citrix conferenace about 6 weeks ago is Aus when they showed the iphoen running an ica client. It really seems to get people excited, which really amused me. Have been using HP ipaqs with a citrix client for a few years. Screen size has and still always be the killer.
Brian Madden wrote Re: killer app
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 7:05 PM Link To This Comment
Actually that's a great point. Imagine if you could zoom in an out of your remote ICA window with that "pinch and spread" technique of the iPhone...
Things That Make You Go Boom wrote I think your missing it
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 8:08 PM Link To This Comment

I think your missing something big about this if Apple ever aproves ICA for the iPhone.

In Apple's current model all applications that can ran on the iPhone must come the App Store where all of the applications have to be reviewed and approved by Apple before they can be distributed to someone's phone.  Also currently all of these applications must be developed on a Apple computer since the iPhone SDK is only available for OSX.

Now knowing this, if one were able to get ICA on an iPhone, then the would be breaking these barriers.  You would now be free to distibute any app to any iPhone you control via XenApp.  You could also now develop the application on your Windows machine via Visual Studio.  It is because of this I wonder if Apple will allow the ICA client to be availble on the iPhone (at least officially and not through an jailbroken phone).

Chris Fleck wrote iPhone as the " Nirvana Phone "
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 8:13 PM Link To This Comment

Brian , thanks for bringing up the question. Compared to previous devices the iPhone has a such a great screen and usable user interface I think there will be be increased adoption for mobile and viewing senarios with limited input requirements.

When the iPhone can be docked to a full sized monitor and keyboad and connected to a Virtual Desktop ... then it will be a " Nirvana Phone "

Things That Make You Go Boom wrote Re: iPhone as the
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 8:59 PM Link To This Comment
I agree with you on this.  It would really be awesome if I could use the iPhone as a thin client inwhich I could plugin in an external display and use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
Guest wrote Not without monitor (not tv) out...
on Wed, Jul 16 2008 9:12 PM Link To This Comment

I'm not sure that you could call the iphone a nirvana device until you could convert it to a proper thin client. From what I understand, the iphone is only caable of outputting 480i or 576i resolution to a TV, which is really not great functionality wise.

I think the bigger question would be can Citrix afford not create a client for it?  You have a potential demonstration market of about (lets say) 1/6 of the iphone market would would have Citrix in their work life.  How could you afford not to put a pnagent/web interface out there? With proper zooming, and file upload capability it would be a great advertising tool.

Jason Conomos wrote Re: made me laugh
on Thu, Jul 17 2008 12:49 AM Link To This Comment

I may have been at that same conference :)  Go the Aussie boys

I have done several demonstrations of XenDesktop to many clients and every client has requested that they want XenDesktop to function on their PDA, iphone, those really small form factor notebooks, thin notebooks, MAC, smartphone etc etc.

Why you would want this to work on a device that can not display a full desktop i am not too sure of in a normal day to day working environment.  However what does it demonstrate?  It demonstrates the notion that a corporate image desktop can be deployed to close to any device (I tested it on my PS3, and it didnt work though) on many different connections therefore making Windows XP portable.  And honestly it is a wow factor.

No body ever said that Citrix could not market did they :)

Kata Tank wrote Re: made me laugh
on Thu, Jul 17 2008 1:23 AM Link To This Comment

they just want to have the choice... Will they use it ? No !

but I will have the impression I could have the choice... 

Guest wrote Maybe if Apple creates a bigger form-factor...
on Thu, Jul 17 2008 4:06 AM Link To This Comment

The screen of the iPhone might be a bit too small. But what if Apple decides to make a device with the form-factor of an eee PC? Having a 10" tablet would definitely work for more serious applications and using ICA removes a lot of the restrictions what you can do. And it would immediately legitimate the usage of such a device in a business environment.

Chris Fleck wrote Re: Not without monitor (not tv) out...
on Thu, Jul 17 2008 7:59 AM Link To This Comment
I agree it will need VGA with at least 1024x768 to provide a good desktop alternative. Currently there are limitaions in the iPhone's Video out and SDK , but there reference points. The iMate 8150 for example can output real VGA 1024x768 and it looks great.
Scott Marlow wrote ComputerWorld Article on this topic
on Thu, Jul 17 2008 9:48 AM Link To This Comment
Guest wrote What about..
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 5:10 AM Link To This Comment

What about the iPhone projecting a larger screen on your desk or wall. Now you could use the iPhone as e touchpad mouse with zooming capabilities and stuff. Apple only needs to add a small projector thingy to the phone.



Guest wrote Crazy BS
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 9:57 AM Link To This Comment

People really need to get a life , why would any normal person want to have the ica client on a iphone? Let me guess so if there climbing a mountain and some calls saying there is a citrix server issue you can resolve it for them or if you out for dinner with family and you get a call from work you can solve the issue as you eat. People need to step back and leave work in work

Adam Marano wrote Re: I think your missing it
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 10:10 AM Link To This Comment

Craig, I think you hit on a key concept in your reply, that is building Win32 apps for mobile devices that can be delivered via XenApp.  This is an actually a very interesting concept. There are multiple values in doing this:

- you can write one app that will work on any mobile device that has an ICA client for it

    - Windows Moble (today), Symbian (today), Blackberry (today), UMPCs (today),specialized devices like Symbol/Intermec, iPhone (maybe later?)

- You get  the same type  of security/compliance benefits that you get with XenApp and laptops today

- Help eliminate browser based app compatibility issues

- you can use the same development tools and methodologies for building rull PC apps for your mobile app development

You can have a unified infrastructure for application/data delivery for your Lan users, home desktop users, roaming laptop users and mobile device users. 


Guest wrote Re: Crazy BS
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 10:47 AM Link To This Comment

I agree, why would any one ever want to read their email or get contact information from thier phone, it makes no sense.  A mobile phone should only make phone calls nothing else.  It's even more obsurd that you would want to look up ERM or CRM data while remote whithout having to boot up your laptop, come on we all enjoy the extra time we get while waiting for our laptops to boot up, this is when I usually stop by and get my coffe from Starbucks.  If I just use my cell  phone which is already always on to quickly get a piece of data I need, I wouldn't be able to  get my Starbuck's coffe any more.  I just won't have it! 


Chris Fleck wrote Re: Crazy BS
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 10:51 AM Link To This Comment

You may want to check out what Doctors, Admins and others are saying on my blog post...

Over 1,700 have said they need it for themselves and or their company. Maybe its not such a crazy idea ...  

Guest wrote Think about it!!!
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 11:07 AM Link To This Comment

It's more then the ability to view a remote desktop but to be able to run a windows application via the iphone would be sweet. I for one would be buying 3-4 iPod touches to run Netremote for my home entertainment and automation software. Been doing this on PDAs for years but to run this on an iPhone/iPod Touch via a remote session would be awesome!

 Some of you guys need to open your eyes to the possiblities this provides! It's not only about the ability to remote IT support a server!


Adam Marano wrote Re: Not without monitor (not tv) out...
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 11:13 AM Link To This Comment


iMate 6150 with native VGA screen 640x480 and VGA  output at 1024x768 running ICA  client to flat screen TV in my hotel room at CTIA 2008 below:

Guest wrote I want iICA
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 12:04 PM Link To This Comment

An ICA client for the iphone would indeed be an excellent app.  Gotomypc for the iphone a close second - or maybe even first.

For those that don't already own one - the difference between the iphone and other pda devices is all in the interface.  Apple has done a remarkable job at making the most of a small screen - I can use the iphone to surf the web comfortably, and with the 2.0 release and exchange integration I think we'll see widespread corporate adoption.  The resolution and quality of the display, combined with the intuitive panning/zooming make it very easy to forgive the relatively small screen size.  (which of course is already larger than anything else in its class)

Now, will it be perfect?  No.  Will it be exceptionally usable for many apps?  No.  But having the ability to connect to your applications and "get the job done" from anywhere is  huge win.  For apps that don't require a lot of input, I think the iphone will do quite nicely.  Obviously no one is going to be updating pages and pages of data from their phone - but when you're out to dinner and someone from the office calls that just has to have some key corporate information - an iphone client would make it easy to get to.

Things That Make You Go Boom wrote Re: I think your missing it
on Mon, Jul 21 2008 8:36 AM Link To This Comment
You're right, I never thought about the convience of the security/compliance benefits.  I hope this does come!
Guest wrote Re: Crazy BS
on Mon, Jul 21 2008 10:16 AM Link To This Comment
If you call being oncall at a hospital 2 weeks a month and and being chained down to a laptop and pager No Life then you have me pegged. I for one would love to be able to leave my heavy laptop  home while on vactaion and still be able to do some system administration would be great.
Guest wrote missing something
on Tue, Jul 22 2008 4:34 AM Link To This Comment
I think something is missing here, ICA on iPhone?  Do you care?  Regardless, developing the ICA client (even if it as useless as donkey ***) is good marketing for Citrix and is a great example of associating your company with one of today's revolutionary products.

Guest wrote I didnt think I would use it...
on Tue, Jul 22 2008 1:33 PM Link To This Comment
...Until I pulled down VNC from the app store. It's really handy and intuitive., and gives me somethng to do during security meetings. ;) I am now looking forward to ICA for my iPhone.
Guest wrote Re: I think your missing it
on Tue, Jul 22 2008 2:19 PM Link To This Comment

An example of this concept, writing a win32 app to be used by mobile devices via ICA can be found at  Citrix Mobile Console.

Guest wrote uh... huh
on Tue, Jul 29 2008 10:54 AM Link To This Comment
The iPhone is the one device that won't need a citrix client if it's popularity keeps going as is. Most app company's will develop specific (and usable) clients / ria's for it; specifically for the tasks a mobile user needs.

Maybe just maybe that'll make some company's consider what this crazy "web stuff" is all about and whether it's worth migrating from win32 to web based tech... then again - lots of DOS application vendors were "surprise-ambushed" by the windows/gui app crowd.

Citrix is the best solution for centralising and provisioning apps and data at this point in time. But it's a horribly messy hack - let us not forget that people... 

I mean c'mon, do we really think in 5 - 10 years time we'll be running a pc desktop connecting to a windows server desktop pretending to be a single application minus said desktop, that's pretending to run on the original pc desktop??
HTML5 is round the corner, CSS3 is in the works, RIA is coming and coming fast - good riddance!
dickinson_wade wrote re: Citrix ICA client for the iPhone. Would you care?
on Tue, Feb 19 2013 1:26 AM Link To This Comment

Hopefully, soon "not too long", this will be everyone's innovation.

(Note: You must be logged in to post a comment.)

If you log in and nothing happens, delete your cookies from and try again. Sorry about that, but we had to make a one-time change to the cookie path when we migrated web servers.


When is the ICA client coming on my 3G iPhone? : - Work from Anywhere. wrote When is the ICA client coming on my 3G iPhone? : - Work from Anywhere.
on Fri, Dec 5 2008 8:27 AM

Pingback from  When is the ICA client coming on my 3G iPhone?  : - Work from Anywhere.