There are a few popular apps on the App Store that allow you to connect your iPad to your Mac as a secondary display. Ideal for expanding your workspace, especially when using the 12.9″ iPad Pro. Duet and Air Display are both great options, but they have quite a few limitations. Luna Display, from the makers of AstroPad, aims to be the end-all solution for a lag-free, HiDPI experience.
To see it for yourself, check out our hands on video with a prototype of the Luna Display.
Luna has three parts. The iPad app, the Mac companion app, and the physical Luna key that goes into your Mac. It is available in USB-C or Mini DisplayPort. This key is, well, the key to making this work. Duet and Air Display both work by tricking your Mac into thinking there is an external display connected, when it isn’t. That means they don’t get to take advantage of the advanced features in your Mac. Luna, because it has that physical connection, does get to take advantage of these features including hardware accelerated graphics and Metal 2.
Luna Display not only is virtually lag-free, but also supports HiDPI as well. The image is exceptionally sharp, and I was easily able to work on my iPad, even editing 4K video on that display in Final Cut Pro X. It’s really wonderful to be able to see such a crisp image. I saw plenty of lag and poor image quality when testing the solely app-based solutions.
Luna actually goes a step further. You can utilize all the great features of your iPad. You can connect a keyboard to your iPad and work with it directly. You can tap to select and move items on the screen, and it even supports multitouch gestures like two fingers to scroll or pinch to zoom. Apple Pencil is also supported which makes editing photos in some Mac only apps really wonderful.
The camera button
One of my favorite features, that I’m surprised no one else has done, is the camera button. On the iPad, you need some way to access the menu. There could be some gesture to access this, but it would be messy. Instead, they added a new physical button, by utilizing the front facing camera.
You simply tap the camera, and the app notices the change in light, and will open the menu. Literally like tapping a button!
That menu gives you a few easy access items like the current battery for your Mac and iPad, as well as brightness and screen arrangement. You do get a few more options for screen arrangement in system preferences, but this is a lot faster to access on the fly if you just need to swap sides.
I was a bit dubious on the idea of Luna Display. Going in with a decidedly negative outlook, but it fully turned that around. I had long abandoned other options as mostly a frustration because of the poor image quality and dreadful lag. Luna is so fast and high resolution that it really feels like using a second monitor. It works wirelessly or over Lightning if you don’t happen to have a Wi-Fi network available.
Luna Display is currently on preorder, for $69 for either the USB-C or Mini DisplayPort option. If you really like the idea of utilizing your iPad as a second monitor, I would really recommend this. Especially if you happen to be an artist or professional who uses the developers other app, AstroPad which will be fully integrated.
Let us know what you think of Luna, down below in the comments. Is this something you will find useful? Or would you put up with the lag and image quality for the much lower price tag?