For years, Apple fans have been able to use the iPad as a drawing tablet for their Mac thanks to software called Sidecar. It was created by Apple, but now a rival app to Astropad has emerged, and it’s aimed specifically at digital artists and illustrators.
The application, dubbed Slate, lets you draw on your iPad with Apple Pencil or your finger and see the results replicated on your Mac’s screen. This means your iPad doubles as a Wacom tablet, which is perfect for creative work on your Apple device.
It can also be used to enter your own handwriting, such as when filling out and signing forms. Astropad also explains that the app lets you use the Apple Pencil to move your Mac’s mouse pointer, while you can also use your finger to perform Mac gestures that would normally be done with a trackpad or Magic Mouse.
Like Sidecar, Slate works wirelessly, so you don’t need to connect a cable between your Mac and iPad. It’s also compatible with Apple Pencil’s new hover feature (released in iPadOS 17), which allows users to preview certain tools or draw with more precision by bringing the Apple Pencil closer to the surface of the iPad, without actually making contact.
Apple launched Sidecar alongside macOS Catalina in 2019, and there have long been alternatives to Apple apps (with several apps predating it). These include the Duet Display and Luna Display, the latter also made by Astropad.
However, Slate differs from previous efforts in several ways. For one thing, the Luna Display requires a USB dongle to be inserted into your Mac, whereas the Slate is completely wireless.
Additionally, the goal of apps like Sidecar, Lune Display, and Duet Display is to turn your iPad into a second screen for your Mac so you can extend your Mac’s workspace to your tablet. Meanwhile, the Slate doesn’t mirror or extend your Mac’s display, and instead allows your iPad to function purely as a drawing tablet. In other words, it won’t display your Mac content on your iPad.
Currently, Slate is offered via free public beta. There is no official launch date or price for the app, and Astropad says the beta version will be “open long enough to gather user feedback and iron out any existing bugs.” If you want to try it, you can download the beta version from Astropad website.