Many iPad users may view their tablet as a separate part of their everyday computing lives, connecting only for the occasional iOS update or media sync. But did you know there’s a long list of iPad apps designed to work hand in hand with your Mac? Here’s a look at 10 of them and how they could enhance your everyday Mac experience.
Adobe recently impressed everyone with a peek at three iPad apps that work directly with Photoshop and other parts of the forthcoming Creative Suite 5.5 update. Apple has been busy touting the iPad 2 as the forerunner of the “post-PC” world, so we decided to find some very good reasons that already exist to show how the tablet and the desktop or laptop Mac can coexist in harmony.
In some cases, the iPad can even enhance your day to day Mac workflow, doing double duty as a temporary second display, accessing files on the go or even taking full control of your computer from across the house — or halfway around the world.
Avatron Software Inc., Version 1.3.3, $9.99
If you’ve ever dreamed of having a portable second display for your MacBook Pro, wish no more! 10 bucks and an iPad is all you need. After a quick software install on the Mac, fire up Air Display
on your iPad (or even iPhone/iPod touch, since it’s universal) and suddenly your desktop will be extended to your iOS device, anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Of course, it also works on desktop Macs (and Windows systems too), and we were able to use an iPad 2 as a third display on top of our main 30-inch monitor already extended with a 27-inch iMac. Talk about slick!
Antecea Inc., Version 2.0, $24.99
The next generation of Antecea’s earlier ezSharePro app, Cloud Connect Pro
may come with a pricey cost of admission (as App Store apps go), but it aims to be the iOS equivalent of the Swiss Army knife for computer connectivity. In addition to file sharing from cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Docs and MobileMe iDisk, you’ll also get access to all of your local computers and with the free Easy Connect install, you can access those computers remotely over 3G as well. VNC
is also part of the package, as well as the ability to access SMB, AFP, FTP, SFTP and WebDAV drives. The feature set is rich and it delivers on what it promises, but the user interface is a bit cluttered at times. The 2.0 version of the app is now universal, so it works from the iPhone/iPod touch as well as the iPad.
Stratospherix Ltd., Version 1.9.1, $3.99
For a somewhat more modest sum of cash, FileBrowser
accomplishes many of the same tasks as Cloud Connect Pro
— provided that you have SMB file sharing enabled on your Mac, and you don’t need to access VNC, AFP-based AirDisks or FTP
servers. After adding your computer, you’ll have full access to all connected hard disks, complete with the ability to open, rename, delete and even copy files to the local storage of your iPad as well as email them as an attachment. Video and music files can be streamed to your Apple TV
via AirPlay, but AVI or Divx format movies have to be sent to another third-party app that supports them (using the iOS “Open in” menu).
IdeaSwarm, Version 1.1, $1.99
If you happened to catch HP’s webOS slick demo showing how their forthcoming TouchPad can hand off URLs, maps and other data to a Palm Pre and wished for such a function on iOS, your prayers have been answered. Handoff
is an ingenious, universal app that “catches” bits of data pushed from your computer’s web browser to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch). Reading an awesome MacLife.com article but have to leave in the middle? Click on the free Handoff extension button in Safari and the article will magically be ported to your iOS device, available for reading on the go. You can even do the same magic with Google Maps, YouTube videos, Wikipedia pages, IMDb listings and more, and even configure Handoff to open them in your favorite iOS app directly. How did we ever live without this?
Parallells Inc., Version 2.3.454, Free (Requires Parallels Desktop 6 on Mac)
If you frequently find yourself running virtual machines on your Mac with Parallels Desktop
6 and need to access them via your iOS device, the free Parallels Mobile
is your answer. Despite a few minor limitations (including lack of audio playback), the free universal app allows you to access and control Parallels virtual machines from anywhere over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections — including remotely starting, stopping and even resetting Windows or other VM types you may be using. Best of all, you can optimize your experience on the fly to get better speed or better graphics performance.
Cloud Engines Inc., Version 2.0.3, Free
While Pogoplug devices have historically been standalone affairs, the developers got serious about creating a personal cloud with the latest 3.0 software for the Mac, which allows users of the company’s free iOS apps to directly access files on your computer as well — even if you don’t own Pogoplug hardware. Simply download and install the Mac software, pick files (or whole folders) for remote access and then fire up the PogoplugHD
app for the iPad and you’ll be able to stream movies, photos or music as well as access and view other types of files with ease. A $29 Premium version
of the Mac software unlocks even more capabilities.
App Dynamic, Version 4.2.2, $4.99
A combination VNC
client and super-sized remote control, Remote HD
(also available in a $1.99 “lite” version
) works with a small Mac application of the same name to bring a host of interactivity between iOS devices and your computer. The universal app allows for live audio streaming from your computer, a wireless keyboard with multitouch gesture trackpad and you can even view Adobe Flash content from a remote computer to your iPad. Remote HD
is also available on both generations of the Apple TV, allowing you to control the multimedia box while actually seeing it live on your iPad as well as full video and audio AirPlay streaming support.
Regular Rate and Rhythm Software, Version 3.3.5, $4.99
Billed as a remote control for your Mac or Apple TV, Rowmote Pro
turns your iOS device into a premium Wi-Fi trackpad and keyboard that’s perfect for both casual Mac users as well as those using a dedicated computer as part of their home theatre setup. Unlike competing apps, Rowmote Pro
instantly recognizes which Mac app you’re using, allowing instant control of media programs such as Hulu Desktop, Apple DVD Player, Boxee and Plex as well as iTunes, iPhoto, Adobe Lightroom 2, Safari and many others. Quickly switch from keyboard to trackpad mode, and the universal app means it works great on the small screen of the iPhone or iPod touch as well as taking advantage of the larger screen size of the iPad.
Edovia Inc., Vesion 1.1.1, $19.99
apps to remotely control your Mac are a dime a dozen, but few of them do it as elegantly as Screens
. Easily one of the most user-friendly VNC
clients, Screens turns your iPad into a touch-based controller for your Mac, deftly solving such traditionally thorny problems as accessing the Dock in ways that will make you wonder why no one thought of them before. (Hint: Pull the bottom of the screen up and the Dock magically appears.) Using a free, simple System Preferences pane, Screens avoids the messy router setup found on most VNC
clients for the iPad, which means you’ll be tapping, flicking and scrolling your way through your Mac in no time. Supports both Wi-Fi and 3G connections and it’s a universal app.
Thirtynine LLC, Version 1.2.1, $9.99
Ever needed to share your ideas immediately — in real time — with someone miles away? SyncPad
to the rescue! This iPad-only app allows you to quickly create a virtual “room” with others on a Mac, PC
or iPad, allowing you to use your tablet as a whiteboard that immediately gets updated over the internet to everyone else you’re sharing with. Computer users join the room by entering a simple URL from any web browser, and a free SyncPad Reader
app is also available for other iPad users to view your sketches. Scribble on a fresh white page to get your ideas across, or open images or PDF files you’d like to share (including to and from Dropbox) and mark them up to your heart’s content. SyncPad is one of those apps that immediately shows the potential of how the iPad and the Mac can coexist in harmony together.
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