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Saturday, October 31, 2020

You Can Now run macOS On Your Fancy iPad Pro, Sorta

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One of the most significant setbacks of the iPad, regardless of how powerful the processor inside is, is that iOS is pretty restrictive. While the iPad is a great device for consuming media, it just runs into compromises whenever you try to get real work done. Some people have managed to tune their workflow around those limits, like the Grammy award-winning producer, Henry Tha Bizness, but for most users, it’s quite frustrating.

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Apple has always insisted that iPads and Macs will be separate devices, with Tim Cook quoted saying “you can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are likely not going to be pleasing to the user.”

But thankfully for us, a third-party manufacturer has seen the gap in the market and came out with an interesting device, the Luna Display. The $180 dongle turns your iPad into a secondary display for your computer running macOS. There are two versions of this dongle, depending if your Mac has MiniDisplayport like the older MacBook Pros or USB-C like newer models.

Digging into the Dongle

All devices running macOS works on this setup, from Finder to killer apps like Final Cut Pro. The remarkable thing about this is that all the iPad specific functions still work, so you can still be using the Apple pencil or the touchscreen. With no sight of touchscreens being added to Macbooks, this might be the closest thing to touch-enabled Mac for a while.

This simply means that you can use your iPad with a traditional keyboard and a mouse setup, getting closer to that computer-replacement that Apple keeps promising.

Jonathan Morrison, a YouTuber who is known for creating a crispy video, rigged up a new iPad Pro to a Mac mini with the help of the Luna Display recently and it was pretty impressing.

There are some limitations

While the setup does not add any noticeable lag, it still has a few setbacks.


Firstly, the most significant limitation will be your home Wi-Fi network. With the Luna Display using Wi-Fi to link up the two devices together but if your network gets slowed down for any reason, the setup will likely start lagging. Minor problems include audio not being passed by the link, so you will need to connect the MacBook or Mac mini up to external speakers, or you either use headphones. You can even use your HomePod if you are a full Apple household and own one.

You can also need a second monitor to set it up in the first place, and your iPad Pro needs not to have a login password. If you can deal with those troubles, then you can be using ‘Final Cut Pro’ with all that touchscreen awesomeness with virtually no other difference to running it on the Mac alone.

It is pretty cool to see Mac apps running on an iPad, even if it needs an adapter to work but then again, what doesn’t when you own an Apple product nowadays.

The Luna Display gives me hope that I will be able to use iPad as something more in the coming future.

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