iPad Pro – Part Three – Using the iPad as an external screen

June 22, 2016

Time for part 3 of the iPad Pro review. I already wrote part 2 before, but I lost it due to having no clipboard history. See, that’s working on an iPad for you!

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An iPad acting as an external monitor. The iPad is showing the desktop version of Spotify using Duet.

Anyway, I have to do a lot of design presentations and for me it makes a lot of difference whether I can show my designs on a decent screen or on a crappy projector. I can’t tell you how many moments people huddled together before my Macbook to see the actual colors of the design and not the ones of the crappy projector.

But hey, here’s a novel idea: why not use the iPad as a screen to present your work? The regular iPad is a tad small for this but the 12.9″ iPad Pro is pretty much perfect in this regard.

There are two main apps to accomplish this. One is called Air Display 3 and the other is called Duet.

Basically they allow you to mirror your Macbook’s screen to an iPad. This way you can set up the iPad to be visible to your presentation’s audience while you still comfortably control it from your Macbook. For a 1 on 1 meeting it is realistic to just sit side by side and look on the same laptop but when it’s 2 or 3 people it’s better to have an external screen. Projectors require a lot of room and a proper setup… Air Display only requires proper WiFi.

Now, things are a bit confusing because first Apple didn’t allow apps to communicate over USB, so the people who developed Air Display were relying on WiFi. Since Air Display 3 you can also use USB which is more reliable. Duet – the main competitor – only has USB support.

Both apps do some hacky things to get the iPad to show up as a 2nd display and are pretty prone to require some trial and error before it finally works. When testing things this morning I had to reboot my Macbook at least once, kill the Duet app on iPad at least once and was presented with a black screen on my Macbook a few times. After a few minutes it came back to life. So this is definitely on the hacky side – but it’s cool that you can do this.

Imagine a travel kit where you have an iPad Pro and a small Macbook. You have dual screens to work on yet it’s still relatively tiny.

Now imagine a travel kit that is just an iPad Pro…

Anyway, over and out. Tomorrow I will try to rewrite the 2nd part which was about using the iPad as a graphic design tool.

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