Astro HQ

Mac apps to speed your work, and games to make you forget all that [Awesome Apps]

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An iMac exploding with awesome apps.
Awesome Mac apps of the week.
Photo: Midjourney/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

In this week’s Awesome Apps roundup, you’ll find apps for managing files, using AI to boost your writing, and turning an iPad into a creative input device for a Mac.

And if all that productivity wears you out, we’ve got other options. You can relax with a charmingly peaceful Apple Arcade game with a delightful Japanese theme. Or you can blast enemy spaceships in an arcade-style game that’s great on iPhone — but even better on Vision Pro.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to download.

Darkboard makes drawing on an iPad more comfortable

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Astropad Darkboard makes drawing on an iPad more comfortable
The iPad's slender bezels won't make drawing a challenge any more with Darkboard.
Photo: Astropad

The Astropad Darkboard is a new lightweight, ergonomic drawing surface for iPad. It gives artists a place to rest their arm while drawing without covering the screen.

There are versions for the three largest Apple tablets.

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.

Brilliant folding touchscreen MacBook concept is almost a reality

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Astro HQ’s MacBook concept has a flexible touchscreen in place of the keyboard and trackpad.
This MacBook concept has a flexible touchscreen in place of the keyboard and trackpad.
Photo: Astro HQ

Astro HQ, makers of Luna Display, dreamed up a macOS laptop concept with a foldable display that covers the entire interior of the MacBook. The design includes a touchscreen and Apple Pencil support.

Artists’ concepts are often impractical dreams for the future but a version of this can be assembled right now. Sort of.

Apple might turn iPads into second Mac screens

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Luna DIsplay is great for people who travel with a Mac and an iPad.
macOS 10.15 might have a feature that’s already available from Luna Display.
Photo: Astro HQ

Turning a tablet into an external display for a laptop isn’t a new idea, but Apple is reportedly going “all in” by building this feature into the next version of macOS.

The iPad will supposedly  function as a touchscreen for Mac software, which should catch the eye of digital artists.

Luna Display update makes iPad a better MacBook second screen

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Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
The Luna Display adapter is so small you can hardly see it.
Photo: Astro HQ

A new version of the software that drives Astro HQ’s Luna Display promises to noticeably improve the screen refresh rate and latency for this dongle that lets an Apple tablet function as an external screen for a Mac.

The improvements have also been brought to Astropad Stiudio, this company’s app that turns an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil into drawing tools for a Mac.

Tiny adapter makes your iPad into a MacBook’s second screen [Review]

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Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
Luna Display easily makes your iOS tablet into a screen for your Mac.
Photo: Astro HQ

Even a 15-inch MacBook Pro screen feels cramped when compared to a big desktop display. Too bad toting around a second screen for your laptop isn’t practical.

But maybe it is. Luna Display is a tiny wireless adapter that lets an iPad act as an external display for a Mac. We tested this accessory to see how well it lives up to its promise of a hassle-free way of extending our MacBook screen when on the go. Read on to find out how it did.

Luna Display converts an iPad into a Mac’s second screen

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Luna Display iPad
Double the size of your MacBook screen by using your iPad as a second monitor with Luna Display.
Photo: Astro HQ

Anyone who feels their MacBook’s screen is too cramped can now use their iPad as as second display just by plugging in a dongle. Luna Display is now available to all after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Astro HQ promises that its hardware/software solution is better than purely software options for using an iPad as an external monitor.

#ProTip: The best book on marketing for app developers

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AltConf profile
Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli, the indie devs behind Astropad, a hit app that turns an iPad into a graphics tablet.
Photo:

We’re down here at WWDC, fishing for ProTips. It’s rich hunting ground. WWDC is the world’s biggest gathering of Apple developers, the alpha geeks, experts par excellence. What’s a ProTip? A ProTip is a nugget of knowledge, a little bit of expertise from someone in the know — a pro.

Astro HQ is a two-person indie software company that launched its first app in February.

Run by two ex-Apple engineers — Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli — their app was successful. They’re now making their livelihoods from their software. They’re living the dream! Independent app developers!

They’re as rare as unicorns.

Only 0.01 percent of app developers are financially successful, according to a depressing survey by Gartner.

Ronge and Donelli did a lot of things right, including their own app marketing, which they say was key to their successful launch.

They did the app marketing themselves, with no prior experience, and a lot of what they learned was thanks to one book.