Astropad co-founder Matt Ronge thinks his company’s $20 app, when combined with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil or any iPad and stylus, can match and even exceed the current champ of the tablet world, the Wacon Cintiq.
“iPad Pro is an amazing drawing platform but iOS is far too limited for the professional artist,” says Ronge. “So we wanted a way where we could get the best of both worlds, the power and flexibility of the Mac coupled with the touch interface of the iPad.”
Astropad, though, takes it a step further, letting you draw on your iPad Pro with the Pencil using any app on your Mac (even Photoshop) via the magic of your iPad Pro. That’s some slick digital magic right there.
The app’s been out for a while, letting artists draw on their Macs with regular iPads and even iPad Pro, but the latest update adds serious support for the iPad Pro screen size, along with the game-changing Apple Pencil. The way it works is by having the iPad mirror and control what’s happening on the Mac. Astropad’s developers had to make their own screen sharing tech, though, since the existing tech (like AirPlay) has a poor image quality and high latency. “Neither of which are acceptable for a professional artist,” says Ronge. “So we spent over a year creating our custom tech called Liquid that is both low latency and is very high quality. This is what sets us apart from others that have tried to build something like Astropad.”
In the new version of the app, there’s advanced stroke-tuning to remove stray marks and support for tilt with Pencil, letting you simulate brushes more accurately. There’s also a special pressure sensitivity curve for the Apple Pencil that Astropad has tuned to take better advantage of the peripheral, and the team has even improved the image quality on your iPad so whatever you’re working on is in crisp, clean high resolution.
A Wacom tablet needs a wired connection to your Mac, requires you to learn its own set of pen gestures, doesn’t let you draw right on your image, and can cost $1000 or more. Astropad is $20, totally wireless, and uses the Pencil features you already know and love.
Astropad already sees 60% of its new users and 50% of currently active users on iPad Pro, so this addition should make things a lot easier for users both new and old.
The Astropad software supports several different pens. If you have an iPad Pro, just get the Apple Pencil – it’s the best. If you have any other iPad, they recommend the Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint ($100). If you don’t need pressure sensitivity, you can opt for either the Adonit Jot Pro ($30) or the Pogo ($15).
As a comparison, the Cintiq solution starts at $800 and goes to $2,800. The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are $900 to $1,180.