What's new at Avatron
The App Group Blog
Our favorite tech gear
NOTE: THIS POST IS OUTDATED. OUR ACCELERATED DRIVER IS NO LONGER IN BETA. See this more recent post for details.
Air Display is now compatible with Aero and Direct X, and is GPU-accelerated by screaming performance and hardware-quality visual effects.
Version 1.6.4 of the Air Display Connect software for Windows includes an optional beta installer for the new patent-pending accelerated video driver.
OBTUSE TECHNICAL DETAILS
Let’s introduce some concepts here:
XPDM Mirror Drivers: This is the Windows XP Driver Model. The regular install of Air Display Connect for Windows implements a mirror driver. This is how most virtual-display products extend your desktop. One advantage of these is that they work on Windows XP, which still sports a large installed base in the Windows world.
WDDM Drivers: Modern Windows video drivers use the Windows Display Driver Model, which was introduced in Windows Vista. These drivers talk directly with the video hardware to use the GPU for special effects.
WDDM Filter Drivers: Some other products implement “WDDM filter drivers.” Filter drivers fools a real WDDM driver into thinking that a hardware video display is connected to a video card’s secondary video output, and then redirect the pixels to the virtual frame buffer. These drivers offer some of the benefits of real WDDM drivers—they do support Aero and Direct X—but they come with some serious limitations, which is why we didn’t go this route. For example:
- WDDM filter drivers are deprecated by Microsoft as unsafe
- They aren’t reliable on cards with only one output
- They can’t be used as a third or fourth display
- They don’t work on SLI configurations (multiple video cards on one machine)
- They don’t work in virtual environments like VMWare and Parallels
- They are not very resilient to changes in the physical video drivers, and often require emergency updates when those drivers are updated.
Virtual WDDM Drivers: The new beta Air Display Connect implements real WDDM Drivers, using patent-pending virtualization methods. None of those limitations of WDDM filter drivers apply to the Air Display Connect accelerated drivers. Since this is still in beta, it is an optional install. But so far feedback for the new drivers has been great!
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE BETA
Everybody on Windows 7 or later can try the new accelerated video drivers in Air Display Connect. But please understand that this is beta software. As such, you should be sure to exercise caution. Back up before installing the beta. Back up frequently while trying it. And please send lots of feedback (good and bad) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s how to install the beta:
- First, make sure you’ve updated to at least Air Display Connect 1.6.4
- Select Start menu > All Programs > Air Display > Install Accelerated Beta Drivers
- Install and reboot
If you decide you don’t want to use the beta any more, you can select Start menu > All Programs > Air Display > Uninstall Accelerated Beta Drivers. If you encounter serious issues, reboot in safe mode and then uninstall.
UPDATE: We isolated the bug and implemented a workaround in Air Display Connect version 1.6.5. If you’re running Air Display on Mountain Lion, please Check For Updates. All will be well.We discovered a fascinating obscure bug in Mountain Lion. Fortunately there’s an easy workaround. Here’s the bug:
- Sleep your Mac (either explicitly or by closing a laptop).
- Turn off all of your Bluetooth devices.
- Wake your Mac.
- Watch helplessly as your Mac goes into a Kernel Panic.
- Don’t do that. At least not in that order.
If you turn off your Bluetooth devices before sleeping, you’ll be fine. If you don’t turn off the Bluetooth devices at all, you’ll be fine. It’s only if you turn off the devices while the Mac is sleeping that this happens.
Some people have also noticed that they can make the kernel panic go away by uninstalling certain third-party kernel extensions. Among them is Air Display. But don’t remove Air Display! It’s awesome!
We’re expecting that Apple will fix this soon. It’s probably related to the half-finished work on Power Nap, which still (as of right now anyway) isn’t enabled on the Retina MacBook Pro. Since the bug appeared in the Mountain Lion GM, and since Power Nap still isn’t really finished, we’re guessing that the bug is the results of some stressful late-night code thrashing in Cupertino, and that Mac OS X 10.8.1 will address this.
We have more information. The above description is accurate if you have this option enabled on your Mac: Allow Bluetooth Devices To Wake Your Computer. It’s on by default. If you turn that option off (in System Preferences > Bluetooth > Advanced), the system will kernel panic even if you don’t turn off the Bluetooth devices.
So if the above workaround isn’t effective for you, make sure this option is turned on.
If you’re at Apple, you can see more details at rdar://11977211.
When we received our brand new Asus Nexus 7 tablet earlier this week, we opened it eagerly, bought Air Display and tested it on the new 7” Android tablet. We were happy to see that it not only ran without any problems, but it was much faster than on any other Android tablets that we’ve tested. It was screaming fast, even faster than the Retina iPad (of course, the new iPad has three times as many pixels as the Nexus 7).
So it was a little surprising when we started hearing from people on Twitter and via email who were unable to purchase Air Display for their Nexus 7. They were either not finding Air Display at all in Google Play on the device or they were seeing that it was incompatible on their computer.So that was weird. We didn’t see any problem on our end. But then a few hours later, we started seeing the same thing. We double-checked our Google Play Portal and confirmed that it said Air Display was compatible with the Asus Nexus 7.
And now today it’s just fine again.We still don’t know what was wrong, but we suspect it was sloppy cache synchronization on Google Play. But it’s all working now!
A handful of Air Display users on Mac OS X have reported seeing a blue screen after updating the Air Display Connect software. The main screen turns blue, and the Finder never appears. To most users, the Mac appears to be unusable. This is a pretty serious problem. Fortunately, (1) it has only affected very few users, and (2) there’s an easy workaround.
The problem is simply that Mac OS X occasionally corrupts its kernel extension cache. If you boot to a blue screen, you can recover with these two steps:
- “Safe Boot” your Mac: Select > Restart, then press and hold the Shift key immediately after you hear a tone. Release when the Apple logo appears.
- Restart again.
All should now be fine and you should not see the blue screen again.
The latest Air Sharing (version 3.1, in Apple’s review queue now) features a streamlined interface for copying and moving documents. Every time we can get rid of an extraneous gesture or decision point in our workflow, we’re happy, so we’re pretty excited about Air Sharing 3.1.
Here’s how it works. When you want to copy a file or folder (or multiple items) from a remote server to your local My Documents folder, you can simply (1) tap-hold to select it, and (2) tap the File Transfer button.
That pops up a menu that lets you choose whether you want to Copy to My Documents or Add to Pasteboard.
If you choose Copy to My Documents, that, well, downloads the file or folder to Air Sharing’s My Documents folder. If you add it to the pasteboard, then you can transfer the selection to any writeable location, local or remote.
When you select Add to Pasteboard, you’ll see the selected item(s) jump up into the pasteboard. You can then go to some other folder, tap the pasteboard icon, and choose what to do with the pasteboard contents.
Please note that in Air Sharing 3.1, you cannot Move an item from one server to another. If you want to do that, you can simply Copy it, and then go back and delete the original. We did make inter-server Move available at one point, but removed it until we can work out some stability kinks. We definitely don’t want anybody to lose any personal data due to bugs in one of the various remote file-access libraries or in our own code.
We posted about a week ago about the Mac OS X Lion bug that causes the screen saver to engage even when you’re actively using your Mac. To summarize:
- This only affects the 15” and 17” Mid-2010 MacBook Pro (models MacBookPro6,1 and MacBookPro6,2), and only on Lion.
- It is most common when a third-party video driver (like Air Display Connect) is installed. Removing the driver can make the problem go away. But it also affects some people who don’t have a driver installed. And not everybody using third-party drivers on these systems sees the problem.
- It apparently only happens after a Mac OS X upgrade, not after a fresh Lion install.
In our previous post, we recommended turning off the screen saver and using Display Sleep instead. This generally fixes the problem. But we’ve heard that it’s not a good solution for some people. Specifically:
- Some people need to use the screen saver for one reason or another.
- Some app features, like 1Password locking and Adium status, still have problems because they depend on the system idle state, just like the screen savers do.
If this problem is happening to you, first try adjusting some of your Screen Saver settings by either changing the screensaver, adjusting its activation time, or setting various hot corners that you may have previously used for activating or inactivating the screensaver. If this does not work then the next step would be to remove the screensaver preferences file, in case it is corrupted or otherwise contains settings that are incompatible with Lion.
To remove the Screen Saver preferences, press the Option key and select Library from the Finder’s Go menu. In the library, go to the /Preferences/ByHost/ folder and delete the file called “com.apple.screensaver.NUMBER.plist,” where NUMBER is a string of alphanumeric characters that will be unique to your computer.
After the preferences have been deleted, go back to your Screen Saver system preferences and configure your screensavers again.
Users have reported success when following these steps. We’ve yet to hear from anybody who tried deleting the ScreenSaver preferences and still saw the issue.
Hope this helps!
Q. Can Air Display communicate over the USB cable to my Mac or PC?
A. Yes and no.
In order for iOS apps like Air Display to access the USB bus via the 30-pin dock connector, its developer must be part of Apple’s Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad (MFi) program. As Avatron is not a hardware shop, we are not eligible for this program and therefore cannot support USB. So the answer is No.
On the other hand, Yes. A user named Aaron Nelson over at HijinksInc.com details a nifty workaround to allow Air Display to run over USB. But only on jailbroken iPads.
To set up Air Display over USB you’ll need:
• A jailbroken iPad
(WARNING: We’ll leave the jailbreaking details up to your Google skills. We’ll also mention that Avatron doesn’t advocate jail breaking your your Apple device, nor will we take any responsibility for any damage incurred by your device through attempting this)
• An app to enable USB tethering
An example is MyWi 5.0 from the Cydia App Store. USB tethering turns the iPad’s USB port into another network adapter, and assigns an additional IP address to both your iPad and your Mac.
After installing MyWi on your iPad, enable USB tethering and connect your iPad to your Mac using a USB cable. MyWi adds a status to the toolbar, and you can see that there is one client (the Mac) attached.
Back on your Mac, if you look at Settings > Network you’ll notice a new network connection called iPad USB. You’ll also see the IP address that has been allocated to the Mac. In this case it’s 192.168.20.2. As this is essentially a point-to-point network we can safely assume the IP address of the iPad is 192.168.20.1. That IP address can be used later in Air Display to “Connect to Other” if necessary.
On your Mac, momentarily disable your Wi-Fi or wired network; otherwise a bug will prevent you from connecting. Start Air Display on your iPad, and then connect to it from your Mac as you would normally. At this point you can re-enable your Wi-Fi or wired network again.
It’s as simple as that! Thanks again to Aaron for posting such a useful workaround.
(We should also point out that our Tech Support team doesn’t have jailbroken devices and can’t actually support this clever technique.)
While we’re talking about Mac OS X bugs that plague third-party video drivers like Air Display…
Besides the drag-drop bug that affects users of 15” and 17” MacBook Pro models from late 2008 to mid 2009, there’s one other known bug that we first saw in Lion:
This only affects the 15” and 17” Mid-2010 MacBook Pro (models MacBookPro6,1 and MacBookPro6,2).
The issue is that when a third-party video driver is installed, these Macs will go to sleep even when they are in use. So for example if you set your Computer Sleep time to fifteen minutes, then after fifteen minutes your computer will sleep regardless of whether it’s idle or not.
Unfortunately there’s no way for us to fix this Mac OS X bug. But we can recommend this simple workaround: Set your Computer Sleep time to NEVER, and use Display Sleep instead.
This will clear up most of the manifestations of the bug. There are some others that affect particular apps, including 1Password and the Adium Idle status.
We will continue to pester our Apple contacts about this bug (and the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M/9600M one) and keep you posted about the status.
When the first Lion previews came out, we discovered a bug in the Mac OS X Event Manager. The bug was very specific, affecting only certain Mac models with NVIDIA 9400M video chipsets, only on Lion, and only when a third-party video driver (like Air Display’s) was installed. Apple’s fixed the bug to some degree over the course of a few Lion updates, but it still affects three Mac models.
Here’s the current status: IF you’re running Lion AND if you have an NVIDIA 9400M/9600M chipset AND you have a third-party video driver installed, THEN you will not be able to release the mouse button while drag-dropping something.
This only affects these Mac models:
- MacBookPro5,1 (15-inch, Late 2008)
- MacBookPro5,2 (17-inch, Early or Mid 2009)
- MacBookPro5,3 (15-inch, Mid 2009)
Until Air Display 1.6, we intentionally disabled Air Display on these Macs, so that people would not find that drag-and-drop was broken. Of course we tried to clearly describe the hardware requirements in our app description and web site.
Well, it turns out that the drag-drop bug only manifests itself if you haven’t done a Wake From Sleep since your last Log In or Restart. So there’s a workaround: After each Log In or Restart, close your MacBook Pro, wait for it to sleep, and then open it again to wake it. It’s a little bit of a pain, but it’s there as a workaround if you want to use Air Display on one of these Macs.
Given that workaround, we have now enabled Air Display on all Macs on Lion. If you have one of those three MacBook Pro models, you might want to decide whether the sleep/wake workaround is worth the hassle for you before purchasing Air Display. But at least now it’s your choice, and if you already own Air Display, you can continue to use it on Lion.
If you’re like us, you haven’t slept since March 16 because you’ve been enraptured by your new iPad with its stunning 264-DPI Retina screen. And you may have been wondering when Air Display will support the 2048x1536 resolution.
After Apple announced the new iPad on March 9, we worked like mad to add Retina resolution to Air Display. We got done in time, but of course we couldn’t ship the Air Display update until we had tested on a real iPad. Just in case.
It worked like a charm in the iPad simulator. Unfortunately when we got our new iPads and tested performance, we realized that the 4x increase in pixel count was killing our frame rates. So our engineers rushed back to the laboratory to experiment with codec settings, image filters, color spaces, threaded decompression, and god-knows-what-else.
Finally we’ve got it working with good speed. What’s more, through all of this performance tuning and profiling, we’re delivering dramatically better frame rates on other devices as well. Especially the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, which have dual-core CPU like the new iPad.
Not only that, but this update will let you take advantage of Retina resolutions on iPhone 4 and 4S as well. And by the way, you can
So you will be able to use your new iPad as a 2048x1536 computer monitor. But that’s not all! On Mac OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, you’ll be able to turn on HiDPI mode. HiDPI is a hidden feature in Mac OS X that renders with double-resolution on a double-density screen.
Here’s what it looks like:
To turn on HiDPI, you just go to the Displays Preferences and select 1024x768 (HiDPI).
HiDPI has been shipping with Mac OS X for some time. But it isn’t enabled in the System Preferences, because until now there hasn’t been a mass-produced computer display with high enough pixel density (DPI) to do it justice. That’s where Air Display and the new iPad come in.
So, stay tuned. We need to wait through another Apple review cycle before this goes live but we think it’s going to be worth the wait.
UPDATE: Air Display 1.6 is live in the app store now. Response has been fantastic. It’s the #25 top-selling app in the iPad App Store today, ahead of Words with Friends and Angry Birds HD.