What is a “Mobile SDK for Windows Apps”?  Sounds like maybe something Microsoft would put together related to Windows 8.  Or perhaps it is a bold attempt to make Windows Apps more relevant?  But what would that mean?

Good question.  The quick answer is that Citrix has produced a SDK that enables Windows applications to take advantage of mobile device features.

What kind of features?

These supported features include:

  • on-screen keyboard
  •  picker display
  • camera
  • phone
  • location
  • SMS
  • audio capture

Why would someone want this?

A common problem with Windows applications is that they were never meant to be run on mobile devices.  Much of their design was based on mouse and keyboard interaction.  Also, the display on a mobile device is much higher DPI (dots per inch) and this shrinks the controls and text.  Surfaces that used to be easy to control with mouse on a laptop become almost impossible to select on a mobile display with a finger.

But, besides being able to control the app, the user is also expecting to be able to use features from the mobile device.  Windows apps are typically unaware of features that exist on a mobile device.  It was only recently with Windows 8 that it was possible to write a Windows app that used the more advanced features of a phone or tablet.

But how does this work?

From a black box point of view, the application calls an API to perform an action on the mobile device and the request is passed over HDX to the mobile device.  The device then performs the action and returns the result back through HDX.  It is a lot like Remote Procedure Call (RPC) in typical computer operating systems.

Who would find this useful?

The SDK is meant for Windows developers.  Specifically, it is meant for developers either at the company with the custom application development in-house or developers for integrators or ISVs.

The SDK cannot be used to automatically transform applications.  Source code is needed in order to use the SDK.

In general, it would not suit IT departments unless they have developers writing code for Windows applications.

Which platforms?

Server:

  • Citrix XenApp 6.5
  • Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 or 7.0

Receiver:

  • Citrix Receiver for iOS 5.6.1 or later
  • Citrix Receiver for Android 3.1.170 or later

Which interfaces?

  • C#
  • COM
  • C/C++

When available?

  • Version 2.0 released June 2013
  • Version 1.0 released December 2011

Documentation?

The documentation is generated from the source code and is available on the web at http://www.citrix.com/mobilitysdk/docs/.  It includes samples and links to other resources.

Summary

The Mobile SDK for Windows Apps is available now.  It is intended for developers programming Windows applications.  The runtime is available to use on XenApp and XenDesktop with applications that use the SDK.  The applications are able to use mobile device features when there is a connection between Receiver and XenApp/XenDesktop.  Windows applications benefit by running better on mobile devices.