If you have an iPad, you have a very capable external display for your computer using Duet Display, and now you can also experience Apple’s new Touch Bar without having to pick up a new computer. It’s not the same as having one built in to your computer, but it is a good way to play with Touch Bar functionality and see how it works with your existing workflow in Apple’s native apps and other software that supports it, like Photoshop.
The update to Duet Display also adds support for input from an iPad keyboard, which means that if you have a Smart Keyboard or other accessory like the Logitech Create Keyboard for iPad, when you have that attached to your tablet while running Duet Display you can use it for input, on both Mac and PC versions.
The Touch Bar is the most noteworthy part of this update, though, and it works incredibly well in use, speaking as someone who also uses the standard MacBook Pro hardware Touch Bar regularly. It contextually updates depending on what app you’re using, just like the real Touch Bar, and it supports long-press actions for controlling brightness and volume, as well as other handy features like typing predictions and the emoji picker.
Duet CEO and founder Rahul Dewan says that his team is also working on making it possible to customize the Touch Bar when using the app with contextual and global shortcuts a user can assign. Expanding availability of Touch Bar to desktops and others who can’t currently access the new feature should help generally boost the appeal to developers in terms of building support for Apple’s latest input device.
You can toggle the virtual Touch Bar on and off in the Duet Display menu, and it’s off by default. This feature is also exclusive to Mac, in case that wasn’t obvious. The keyboard support, which is also very handy (it means you can use an iPad as a second display for an iMac – or as a sole display for a Mac mini without another keyboard, for instance), works across platforms.
Duet Display is already one of the most useful apps available on iPad, and now it’s the only way to check out Touch Bar outside of the new MacBook Pro. Plus, recent additions like pressure sensitivity for Apple Pencil have made the iPad, using Duet Display, a better external display than most dedicated external displays. If you haven’t yet used the app, this is definitely an update that makes it even more worth checking out.