A $5 app turns Android tablets into a second monitor for Mac or PC

Apple iPad owners have the $ 10 AirDisplay app to use their tablet as a second monitor for their Mac, but Android owners aren’t left out in the cold. Mobile app developer Shape offers a similar program for $ 5 that turns allows Android devices to be a second monitor for Macs or Windows PCs. The software is called iDisplay and it recently gained some updates in version 2.1. I’ve been using it on a 10-inch Android tablet with my iMac and it works as advertised although it’s not quite as responsive as AirDisplay for iOS.

You can see in the above photo that I’m using iDisplay to run Echofon, a Python IDLE shell and Rdio on the Android tablet as I’ve dragged those apps from my iMac. And see the USB wire connected to the tablet? The iDisplay app supports both a wired and wireless connection to the tablet. I didn’t notice any difference when using iDisplay over Wi-Fi vs over the USB connection, but I like the flexibility. Plus, my Mac can charge the tablet while I use it as a secondary monitor.

This new version of iDisplay contains a few fixes and additions. Namely:

  • Significant increase in speed of the desktop image mirroring on Android display
  • Optimization for 4.0 Android OS
  • Zoom option: choose your own ratio of Android virtual display to speed up the image reflection of your desktop
  • More precise cursor pointing on the touchscreen

The cursor pointing on the tablet is pretty precise, but I’m not sure how much faster the mirroring speed is compared to prior versions. You can configure the frame rate of iDisplay on the host computer — there’s a small bit of software to install on the Mac or PC — but I’ve left it to be auto-optimized. There’s still room for improvement then, but for those looking to get some extra use out of a larger Android tablet, iDisplay is surely worth the look at $ 5. The software also works with Android smartphones, but I’m not sure there’s much benefit on the smaller screen.

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