February 5, 2016

Two Ways to Use Your Devices and Computer Together

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Touchscreen bluesHave you ever forgotten your laptop screen wasn’t touch sensitive and jabbed your finger trying to pinch a picture? As the line between mobile devices and traditional computers blurs, we find ourselves looking at tools that may bring the two together.

Here are a few tools that help mobile devices play well with others.

  • Duet Display
    I had heard mixed reviews about Duet, the app that lets you use an iOS device as a second screen with your Windows or Apple laptop, but I’m in love! For about $15, I was able to turn my iPhone 6+ into a slick second screen. It’s actually a little eerie to see my curser floating around on the phone, but I was able to install Duet apps on both devices and get connected within 3 minutes.

    One cool thing about Duet is that it uses a hardwire to connect the devices so you don’t have to worry about the stability of wifi. Another benefit is that if you choose to mirror your displays, you can use your device as a touchscreen for your computer.

    But there’s a bad side: Right now it just connects iOS devices. Lifehacker says Splashtop is the best tool for Android operating systems, but noted that because there are so many differences among devices running Android that you should expect to have to tweak the process to set up a connection.

  • Reflector 2
    One of my favorite tools for demoing apps is Reflector, and their recent update is even better. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than AppleTV, and it works with multiple platforms. Reflector lets you connect your mobile device to your computer so you can show what’s on your mobile screen. This is great for showing a group the features of your new app or for walking a parent through the process of setting up a new device.Apple devices can connect using the built-in AirPlay feature, and Android devices can use Chromecast streaming. You can hook multiple devices up at the same time, perhaps showing a demo of what an app looks like on different operating systems and devices. Reflector 2 will also let you stream audio or video from your device to your computer, so you can watch a movie on a bigger screen, for example.

    Another great feature is the ability to make recordings directly through Reflector 2, even when you’re showing multiple devices on your screen. For extra fun, you can switch on your webcam so viewers can see you as you demo.

    Reflector 2 is $14.99, and the new capabilities even let you broadcast your mobile demo live to YouTube. The bad news is that when I tried it, my computer was working so hard I thought it would burst into flames, and the live stream was extraordinarily uninteresting. But the concept is cool, and for just showing your device on your screen, it’s perfect.


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