Luna Display not giving up in the face of Apple’s Sidecar

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Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
Luna Display promises to be better than Apple Sidecar at making an iPad into a Mac’s external display
Photo: Astro HQ

macOS Catalina enables an iPad to function as a second screen for a Mac, but one of the companies that already offers a solution for this job isn’t throwing in the towel. The founders of Astro HQ promise that their Luna Display and Astropad will offer a superior experience to Apple’s Sidecar, especially for creative professionals.

There’s also a new version of their software out today that offers better image quality on a connected iPad.

Luna Display is for the pros

“While Apple’s Sidecar merely scratches the surface of a Mac-iPad workspace, we went all in on the bells and whistles,” said Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli, co-founders of Astro HQ, in a blog post. “What does this mean for you? If you have basic needs, Apple’s Sidecar may do the trick. But if you’re a pro, we’ve built Astropad to cater to your creative workflow.”

There appears to be some justification for their claim. The Cult of Mac review of their product said “Astro HQ Luna Display is the best solution we’ve found for using an iPad as a second screen for a Mac.”

This product consists of a small wireless adapter for the Mac, as well as software for the laptop and the tablet. This setup allows the iPad’s touchscreen to be used, and an Apple Pencil too. External keyboards connected to the tablet are even supported.

Broader availability for Luna Display

Astro HQ’s offering has an advantage beyond pro-level features: Apple Sidecar will support just a limited number of machines. Only recent Macs can use this feature, and they have to run macOS 10.15 Catalina. Older devices, even ones with Catalina, aren‘t supported.

Luna Display, on the other hand, is compatible with computers going back to 2011, even if they’re still on macOS 10.11 El Capitan.

Duet Display feels the heat too

Astro HQ isn’t the only company affected by the release of Sidecar. Duet Display is another rival. Rahul Dewan, CEO and Founder of the company developing this app told AppleInsider that he’d expected Apple to make something like Sidecar for years. And he has a similar strategy for surviving: make a better product.

“Since we expected Apple to get in to the space, we knew they only way to compete was to keep innovating. The best analogy here is Spotify to Apple Music: although both are great, third party developers can provide a differentiated product and move faster,” Dewan said.

Luna Display 3.2 brings better performance

Demonstrating its willingness to go toe-to-toe with Apple, Astro HQ introduced Luna Display 3.2 today. “We reengineered our data flow to drastically reduce pixelation, and totally refreshed Luna’s interface to deliver a more streamlined experience,” promised the company.

This requires updating the relevant iOS and the macOS software.

Looking ahead, Ronge and Donelli suggested that a Windows version of Luna Display is in development.