Apple's new iPad Pro enables you to connect all manner of devices via its USB-C connector.
The change from Apple's own Lightning port to the universal language of USB-C brings a number of benefits. It's considerably faster, for example, to transfer photos using an SD Card reader to the Apple tablet. It's also handy for charging your phone on the go too. But you can also connect an external monitor, too.
Haven't you been able to do this before?
Well yes. You can already output a mirrored signal from an iPad either via a Lightning to HDMI cable, wirelessly through an adapter, or via the Apple TV. However the move to USB-C offers support for 4K monitors, something that’s been restricted to Full HD 1080p previously. And it'll now work without a dedicated adapter, but merely the cable that comes in the box if you have a USB-C-capable display.
If you want to connect your iPad Pro to a non-USB monitor, that's still possible. Simply use the relevant adapter - be it USB-C to HDMI or USB to DisplayPort and so on.
What you'll need to connect to an external monitor
As we mentioned, the easiest way to connect a monitor is to find one that already has a USB-C connection on it. Grab the cable that comes with the monitor and plug it into the iPad Pro and away you go. It really is that simple.
There are various monitors available on the market from portable monitors like the 15.6-inch Vinpok Split ($199, pictured above) that grabs power from the iPad (you can also use it for other devices like a Nintendo Switch or your MacBook Air), to much more advanced 4K monitors such as the USB-C 27-inch LG 4K UHD monitor that costs around £569.
Not all USB-C monitors work with the iPad Pro
The iPad Pro will work with USB-C monitors, but not if they need a Thunderbolt 3 connection. The cables look the same, but they aren't. Apple's new iPad Pro uses DisplayPort, and you might need a high-speed USB-C cable in some instances.
Where it gets confusing is when you try to use the new iPad Pro with the new 5K UltraFine Display from LG or an older Apple Cinema Display and sadly it won't work. Use it on the LG’s 4K model and you'll be fine though.
It’s also worth noting that while you can connect an external monitor and even an external keyboard, you can’t connect a trackpad or a mouse.
Apps that take advantage of two screens
For most apps, adding a second monitor merely mirrors what you have on your iPad. However, some apps acknowledge that you've got a second screen and offer you a secondary view.
At the moment the list of supported apps isn’t great, even though Apple has offered support for the feature as far back as iOS 3, but many developers like Adobe has confirmed it is working to support this feature in more of its apps in the future now the iPad Pro supports 4K on a second screen.
Apple's own movie editing app enables you to either have the editing screen or let you have the project's output displayed on the monitor allowing you to work on one screen and see the full uncompressed 4K version on the second.
When using two screens with Apple's Photos app, the selected picture is shown full screen up to 4K with a black ground, while playing videos only shows on the external monitor.
Connect your iPad Pro to an external monitor and then run Keynote and you’ll get plenty of extras. While those that you present to get your presentation you get to see notes and timers. If you’re an Apple Pencil user, you’ll also be able to make notes on the iPad for your audience to see.
Like Photos, Procreate uses the second monitor to show the image full screen on the external monitor allowing you to zoom in to work in close detail on your iPad Pro. For artists saves you time having to constantly zoom in and out and is likely to really speed up your workflow.
Adobe's Lightroom works in a similar way allowing you to see the full image on the external monitor and letting you zoom in on the iPad Pro to edit close up. We're sure there will be similar support when full-fat Photoshop comes to the iPad.