Air Display 3
Turn your iPad into a second display for your Mac with this handy utility
£10.99 Developer Avatron Software, avatron.com
Works with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad Version 3.0.1
Air Display 3 and its free companion app for OS X turn your iOS devices into additional screens for your Mac, expanding your workspace.
Installation of the Mac app requires a restart, but connection is simple. The host didn’t see our iOS devices, but typing in an IP address was enough for an iPad to become a second display for our Mac. Attached displays can be zoomed and rotated, although we found the latter switched the setup to mirrored mode – that was easily fixed in System Preferences, though.
Usefully, Air Display 3 provides options for Retina and HiDPI resolutions. The former usually makes for small, fiddly interfaces, but the latter provides a pin-sharp second display. On Wi-Fi, though, responsiveness is poor; menus halffade and stay put, and graphics ‘tearing’ is commonplace. Therefore, to use the second screen as anything other than a place to hold static reference material, it’s best to connect via USB. Avatron says this leads to “no perceptible lag”, which wasn’t the case during our testing, but the responsiveness was clearly much improved, resulting in a usable setup. A black mark, though, for the custom iOS keyboard ‘pushing’ the screen upwards when activated – it’d be better as an overlay. (The Mac desktop behind the keyboard can be moved with a two-finger drag.)
This latest release also adds Air Stylus, which turns your iPad into a kind of graphics tablet so you can draw with a stylus directly into compatible software in mirrored mode. Pressure sensitivity is supported, which might be a boon for artists on the road, but we’d still prefer to use dedicated kit in a studio setup.
A decent upgrade and worthy of consideration to get more use out of dormant iPads, even if lag remains an issue.
With HiDPI support, your iPad becomes a pin-sharp second display for OS X.