The two founders of this interesting project Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli met when they were working at Apple together in 2007. They since left the company and are now working together and from their collaboration is born this promising application, Astropad for iOS and a new technology called Liquid. Astropad is an iOS app that turns your iPad into a pen tablet that you can use to draw or paint with a stylus on your Mac.
To do so, Astropad for iOS communicates with your Mac through a USB connexion or wireless through WiFi. The application translates the moves and the strokes of your stylus on the iPad into the corresponding actions on the software you use under Mac OS X. So that means that you can not only use the iPad with pressure sensitive stylus to make drawings, schemes or paintings, but you can also use this system to make precise photo editing and retouching with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Pixelmator, and very soon with Photos for Mac OS X.
Astropad for iOS is fully compatible with all styluses on the market that are pressure sensitive. That means that the more you will put pressure on the stylus, the bolder the effect will be and the stronger the opacity of the strike will be as well. That means that you can use Astropad on your iPad with the Pencil from 53.
Thanks to a proprietary transfer technology called Liquid, Astropad can communicate the orders to the Mac at a rate of 60 refresh per second. This is three times faster than Apple’s own AirPlay technology. This is what allows the use of the stylus on the iPad to be so smooth. This will also mean that the Liquid technology of transmission between an iOS device and a Mac computer could find other applications. Let’s wait and see for that.
This Liquid technology also benefits of a memory management that uses the accelerated GPU which saves your Mac computer processor resources. On the iPad side, the ARM code allows to optimize the battery life of your tablet. Not bad!
Astropad is a versatile application for iOS that works with a Mac OS X client application on the other side. The thing is that thanks to this way of working, you can use Astropad with all software with which you would use a Wacom pen tablet for instance. Astropad for iOS is also comptabile with iOS gestures and you can actually customize the behavior of the application to your habits. You can also pinch to zoom in or zoom out which means that you can very precisely retouch a photo or color a tiny area of a drawing.
Astropad for iOS is available for free on the app store. On the other side, the Mac OS X client application is sold at the price at 50$. If you are a student, you get a discounted price of only 20$. This is more or less the same business model as 1Password that is either free or very cheap for all iOS devices, but to take advantage of it, you have to buy a more expensive Mac OS X application.
You can go to the Astropad website and sign up for a 7 days free trial.
Regarding the compatibility of Astropad for iOS and Mac OS X: you need an iPad that runs at least iOS 8 or a Mac under OS X 10.9 or more recent.