Turn Your iPad into a USB Display for Mac

A new app turns your iPad into a USB display for your Mac. This means you can carry around a 7.9-inch or 9.7-inch portable second monitor with you wherever you go. You can even use the iPhone for this, which is just big enough to keep a chat window up. The new way to do this is with Duet Display, which uses the same USB cable that charges your iPhone or iPad to turn it into a USB display for Mac.

The benefit of a second screen is immeasurable for many users, gaining speed and productivity due to the screen space that lets them see everything they need without wasting time switching apps and changing views. For users who are stuck with a single monitor, this is an easy way to add a second display to your Mac at home, on the go or at work.

There are no shortage of wireless display options that turn the iPad into a wireless display for Mac or Windows, but there is typically a small amount of lag and some users can run into issues connecting to the iPad reliably.

The new Duet Display is on the way to the App Store, and once it arrives you can connect your iPad and Mac with your charging cable to get what the creator calls a “zero lag” experience. Watch a short demo of the Duet Display app turning the iPad into a second display.

This is obviously a very quick look at what this app can do, but for users who own an iPad that isn’t getting much use thanks to the larger iPhone in their pocket it’s an exciting option. It’s also quite interesting due to the ability to plug-in and use the same as a USB monitor. It could be a great way to gain more use out of the old iPad 2 or iPad 3 that you’ve been hanging on to.

Duet Display works on all Macs running OS X 10.9 and higher and supports all iPads and iPhones running iOS 5.1.1 and higher. That is a range of Apple devices that essentially guarantees that you own a device that can run Duet Display.

Because Duet Display connects by USB, it should remove some of the troubleshooting required by wireless display apps that previously offered this experience. You do not need a special cable to make this work, but you will need the Duet App on your iPad and a companion app from the Duet website.

Use Duet Display to turn your iPad into a USB monitor for Mac.
Use Duet Display to turn your iPad into a USB monitor for Mac.

After this is all set up, the Mac treats the iPad as a second display. You can drag windows to it, including video. You will not likely be able to play games on this display, even though they promise a 60 frames per second refresh, because it is a USB display. The app also takes advantage of the iPad or iPhone touch screen, allowing you to tap to interact with the iPhone or iPad, but you are using touch on OS X, not iOS which means the overall touch experience is different.

The app is the product of a team of ex-Apple engineers who used their knowledge of OS X and iOS as well as Apple hardware to make this app. Duet Display is still waiting for App Store approval, but we should see it sometime this week.

You can sign up for a one time email when the app launches. There is no word on the price of this app at this time, but given all it does, you can count on it not being a free iPad app.

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