iPad Display Mirroring to Remote Participants

On occasion you may have the desire to demonstrate a new app that you’ve developed for the iPad or just share a website at a meeting.  While iPad 2 and the new iPad have built-in capabilities which allow mirroring to directly-connected projectors and televisions/monitors, how can you share with remote participants?

Using web conferencing services like WebEx or GoToMeeting does allow iPads to join or even start a conference but you may not be able to share your iPad screen. You can use emulators/simulators that I discussed in a previous blog entry, but showing the content from a real device is usually more compelling and emulators may not support some of the features you want to demonstrate.  In this posting, I’ll discuss some possible options.


Screen mirroring on the original iPad has limited capabilities.  It does not support mirroring but does support ‘video out’.  This means certain applications can direct the video signal to an external display. The apps that come with the iPad with this capability include Videos, YouTube, and Photos (in Slideshow Mode), while a number of App Store offerings provide video out capability for things like presentations and web browsing.  Of course there are some jailbreaks and hacks to work around this, but I’ll leave that up to the reader to find.

Luckily the iPad 2 and the new iPad offer mirroring natively.  You’ll just need to acquire some adapters.  If you are connecting to a digital system like an HDTV, you’ll need to get the Apple DIgital AV Adapter (US$39) which has an HDMI port. 

You’ll have to provide your own HDMI cable.  It also has a USB port which allows you to connect it to your power adapter for charging while you’re presenting.  For connecting to many of the older projectors and monitors, the Apple VGA Adapter (US$29.00) contains a VGA port.

Sadly, it does not contain a USB connector for charging, so you’ll have to make sure you have enough battery life for the duration of your sharing.  

While these adapters are necessary for direct connections to projectors and monitors, they may or may not be needed for remote participant solutions.

Options for Remote Participant Viewing

Luckily, there are solutions that allow remote participants to see your iPad screen as well.  The idea is to get the display onto a computer which can then be shared through one of the web conferencing services.  Disclaimer: I have no ties to the any companies or products mentioned.  I also haven’t tried every solution mentioned.  And as always, caveat emptor (for the buyer and the user of free stuff).  

  • iTools – This is a free application that is advertised as a replacement for iTunes (although it requires iTunes – go figure).  Some key features are as follows:
    • It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 for both 32 and 64 bit machines (Mac OS X is not mentioned).
    • It supports all iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad versions and iOS versions.
    • It is an executable that does not require an installation.
    • For connectivity, you won’t need any of the special cables listed above.  Just the standard Apple Dock Connector to USB Cable.  Sorry, but no Wi-Fi option.
    • The Live Desktop feature allows whatever is displayed on the iPad to be mirrored in iTools on the computer screen.  
    • It also automatically detects and switches between landscape and portrait orientation.
    • It has the ability to take screen shots through the snapshot feature (JPG format) as well as a recording feature for video and audio (AVI format).
    • While it works OK for presentations and semi-dynamic content, anything with a relatively high frame rate like videos and certain games might appear jerky.  But, hey, what do you want for free?

  • AirPlay to Mac or PC – AirPlay Mirroring allows you to mirror an iPad 2 or later to a 2nd or 3rd generation Apple TV.  There are some software packages which enable AirPlay to a Mac or a PC.  Examples include Reflection for Mac (single license: US$14.99) and AirServer for Mac (US$14.99) and PC (US$7.99).

  • Use a webcam or document camera – You could use a webcam or document camera to view the iPad screen on a computer.  Obviously this will work with all models of iPad devices as well as other tablets.  You’ll have to experiment with different models to see which webcam can give you the clarity you will need.  You may also want to have some kind of mounting bracket to keep the webcam pointed at the iPad.  A document camera will already have the camera mounted on a bracket but could be bulky and expensive.  An interesting option is the Point 2 View USB Document Camera.   It includes a stand and base which allows you to get up close and personal with your screen.  While the included software allows you to take snapshots, it doesn’t allow recording of the session.  However, there is a blog entry which explains how to use Picasa to record videos with the webcam.  Retail price is US$69.

  • Use a ‘frame grabber’ product.  This enables the output of iPad screen to be directed to a hardware device which can then connect to a computer.  Once such device is the Epiphan Systems VGA2USB.  You will need the Apple VGA Cable listed above.  A nice article on its use can be found here.  Retail cost starts at US$299.

As you can see there are several options, each with their own compatibility requirements, performance levels, and cost implications.  This list is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it should give you some ideas on how you can show your iPad screen to those around the globe.

Have you found other ways?  Please feel free to share them.

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One Comment on “iPad Display Mirroring to Remote Participants”

  1. David Says:

    There is another application I’ve seen that is designed for giving presentations with, which mirrors what is on the host device on other iPads networked to it (via a common WiFi point, for example). I’d love to tell more but it’s not commercially avaialble yet and I’m NDAed, but suffice to say that I was lucky enough to do some testing on it not that long ago and it’s a great app.

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