Tuesday, December 11, 2018

iPad Pro: The External Monitor Woes

I love The Count of Monte Cristo. It taught me it’s best to be patient and calculated about revenge. - Jean Grae
When the new iPad Pro was presented and it included support for an external 5K monitor I was excited, but the excited was misplaced or too early, because the current iOS 12 isn’t useful for me with an external display. It got me wondering what I really hoped for anyway.
I bought Mrs.Chaos a Satechi USB Type-C hub for her upcoming MacBook Air, but figured I could give it a go on the new iPad Pro and it’s as expected.
Satechi USB-C Slim V2
Split screen multi-tasking fails us. When you plug in an external display to the iPad, if you’re running an app full screen that supports it, it can display content on the second screen. This can be done really awesome by an app like Screens where you can remote connect to a multi-display Mac and have the two displays spread across your iPad monitor and external monitor.
I want to run the Apple TV app and display a show on the external display while doing other work on the iPad but it’s not quite what you’d hope. Whatever app is running on the left side of the split-screen is what gets to control the external display. So it is possible to put the TV app on the left and the app you’re working on on the right and get it to display. If the TV App is on the right side of the display? Not so much.
Issues with this function are many:
  • You lose a band of your screen to TV App that isn’t doing anything
  • It takes up on of the two spots — so you can’t run two other apps side beside
  • If you hit “home” or alt-tab to another app, your show stops
  • If the app doesn’t support split screen this won’t work (I’m looking at you Amazon Video)
  • If the app doesn’t support an external monitor this won’t work (I’m looking at you CBS and other tv network apps)
Also, connecting to an external 5K may actually not be possible in 2018. The iPad Pro supports 5K over USB Type-C, but the 5K monitor that Apple sells is a Thunderbolt monitor. If you connect it to your iPad over USB Type-C it will not display as 5K and I can’t seem to locate ANY external monitor that can do 5K over USB 3.1, so I guess will just have to wait.
The summary here is, like many things we take for granted on our laptop/desktops, using an external display with an iPad is harder than you’d expect, confusing, and you’re going to bump up against weird behavior a lot.