Ex-Apple engineers write a killer app for artists that turns iPad into a professional graphics tablet

Astropad image 001

Former Apple engineers Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli have created an absolutely amazing software solution called Astropad which magically turns your iPad into a professional graphics tablet for your Mac.

The iOS application talks to the Mac client via Wi-Fi or USB which then translates your stylus strokes on the tablet into corresponding actions in virtually any Mac app such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Pixelmator and many more.

Drawing on your Mac with your iPad works with most pressure sensitive styluses on the market. Your stylus strokes are transferred to the Mac in a silky-smooth sixty frames per second, thanks to a proprietary technology called Liquid that provides nearly three times more fluid responsiveness than Apple’s AirPlay.

“For the first 6 months of development we had no idea whether we could build the technology to allow the level of image quality and performance suitable for the most demanding artists and designers,” developers said.

But they’ve delivered.

Not only does Liquid deliver lag-free performance over Wi-Fi or USB without noticeable compression artifacts, it also does color correction on the fly so what you see on your iPad exactly matches the images on your Mac, and vice versa.

Liquid is GPU-accelerated to reduce the burden on your Mac’s CPU and uses ARM assembly code to maximize battery life of an iPad.

Astropad works with any Mac app, no drivers required. The app allows for the creation of fully customizable shortcuts to speed up your workflow and supports pinch-to-zoom and pan gestures in Mac apps.

Check out the promotional footage below.

This is just great.

I can see Astropad used not only for drawing illustrations, sketches and paintings, but also for precise photo editing in Adobe Photoshop, Pixelmator and other Mac apps, especially in those which support OS X’s Ink technology.

For the time being, Astropad supports styluses by Adonit, Wacom and Hex3, with support for FiftyThree’s Pencil coming soon.

Minneapolis-based Matt Ronge and San Francisco-based Giovanni Donelli, pictured below, met at Apple in 2007 where Matt worked on QuickTime and Giovanni on Mac OS X.

“As ex-Apple engineers we are using our experience to build professional creative tools that work across your Mac, iPad and iPhone,” they said.

Astropad team

Astropad’s iPad app is available as a free download from the App Store. The Mac client will set you back fifty bucks, or twenty bucks if you’re a student.

That may seem a lot of money to drop on an app, but consider that professional graphics tablets from the likes of Wacom and others start out at five to ten times that much, and up.

A 7-day free trial is available through the Astropad website.

Astropad works with any iOS device running iOS 8 or later and supports any Mac with OS X 10.9 or later.