Turn your iPad into a graphics tablet with Astropad Studio

Publicity image of Astropad Studio
(Image credit: Astropad)
Astropad Studio

Astropad Studio app icon

(Image credit: Apple)

iPadOS / MacOS  Free with in-app purchases

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Pen displays like those made by Wacom have become an invaluable tool for designers in recent years, but if you’re a creative that already owns an iPad and an Apple Pencil, then chances are you might not need one thanks to today’s App of the Day.

Astropad Studio was developed by former Apple engineers with the objective of delivering a professional, “second screen” drawing experience on the iPad Pro without the need to purchase extra hardware.

It offers a high-quality, high-framerate mirrored display on your best iPad that you can draw on which the makers claim renders twice as fast as AirPlay, while offering pressure support for Apple Pencil in any Mac app, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Affinity Designer and so on. 

Customizable sidebar shortcuts automatically match whatever desktop application you’re using, while there’s almost unlimited customisation options for pencil and finger gestures.

Use your iPad Pro to control Photoshop, Illustrator and Affinity Designer

You can connect your iPad it to your Mac via USB, while recent updates now allow new peer-to-peer connectivity, allowing you to wirelessly connect to a Mac while bypassing old routers and their inherent lag and latency. 

Those updates have also brought accurate sensing support for tilt - the angle at which the Apple Pencil is held - and azimuth  - direction of the tilt.

While it’s true that Apple has its own Side Car feature built into MacOS and iPadOS, which allows you to mirror your desktop screen directly onto your iPad and use it as an input device, its somewhat limited when compared to the robust suite of tools and customisation options that Astropad Studio offers that are specifically geared towards design and sketching.

While we’re mightily impressed with how well the app works wirelessly, we’d still opt for using Astropad Studio with your iPad connected over USB – it’s faster, clearer and just all round more fluid in use, while being tethered won’t be too much of a hardship for most users.

The only pause for thought for creatives is the pricing. Astropad offers the Studio app for a fairly expensive $79 annually, but there is at least the opportunity to try the app for free with a 14-day trial. 


iMore's daily App of the Day post helps you find great apps you've never heard of on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, curated each day by our expert team!

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch is a London-born, Dublin-based writer and journalist. 

He started out as a music writer in the late 1990s, before moving to the Daily Mirror to become the newspaper’s technology editor, during which time he wrote a weekly column that saw him chart the boom of consumer tech and gaming as well as the resurrection and rise of Apple Inc. 

He has also served as editor of GuinnessWorldRecords.com and has been a member of the judging panel for the BAFTA British Academy Video Game Awards.