Air Display update turns the new iPad into a ‘Retina’ Mac display

3 April, 2012 - Paul Dixon
Air Display on the new iPad

Just as Avatron promised last month, an updated version of their popular Air Display app has now been released which takes advantage of the new iPad’s Retina screen and OS X Lion’s HiDPI mode – effectively turning the third-generation iPad into a Retina quality Mac display.

Here’s Avatron’s explanation of how it works:

“If you have Mac OS X Lion and a Retina iOS device, now you can turn on “HiDPI mode.” HiDPI is a built-in Mac OS X feature that makes UI elements render at double resolution. It’s absolutely stunning on a Retina display. By default, Mac OS X disables HiDPI because until now, there has been no Mac display with high enough resolution. Air Display on a new iPad, with its 2048×1536 264-dpi Retina display, finally brings HiDPI to life.”

I gave the app a try this morning, and took the following screenshots:

Air Display running on third-generation iPad

Air Display running on the new iPad in 1024×768 (HiDPI) mode. View full size

Air Display running on third-generation iPad at 2048x1536

You can also run Air Display at the new iPad’s native resolution of 2048×1536, and see more of the desktop, but text becomes too small to read comfortably. View full size

Air Display running on first-generation iPad

Air Display running on a first-generation iPad – only 1024×768 is available. View full size

Not all Lion apps support HiDPI at the moment, and it’s unlikely you’ll see it supported in third-party apps, so don’t expect everything to look fantastic. You will also probably notice some image degradation, and a little lag when you move windows around, but aside from that the app does seem to work surprisingly well.

The only issue I encountered that left me a little concerned was that at one point the colours on the iPad went a little funky looking, which I have reported to Avatron:

funky colours on the new iPad

The latest version of Air Display is priced at £6.99 ($9.99) from the App Store.

Air Display - Avatron Software, Inc.

About the author

Paul Dixon is the owner of Macsessed. He lives in Lancashire in the UK where he works as a web designer. You can find him on and Twitter.