How to: Get the iPad's desktop to display through the VGA adapter




Whenever Steve Jobs presents his newest "i" gadget, he and the other presenters always display the content on the device's screen through a big ass external display.  This hack will allow you to recreate that to a certain degree.  Here's a short video demonstration of what this hack will do (sorry, not the greatest video)...



What you need:


- A jailbroken iPad running backgrounder

- The Apple iPad VGA adapter ($29.00)

- An external display (monitor, projector, HDTV) 

- "Expedition the vga out web browser", an iPad app sold in the iTunes app store ($5.00). Currently tested on version 1.0, released May 5th, 2010. 



How to:


Step 1.) You need to jailbreak your iPad.  I used the Spirit jailbreak...


Step 2.) Double tap the newly added "Cydia" app on your iPad's desktop.  After it loads, use the search function at the bottom to find and install the "Backgrounder" application (non 2.x version).  Here's more info on the backgrounder app (iphone specific, but it works the same on the iPad).


Step 3.) Open iTunes and search for "expedition the vga out web browser" (direct link).  It costs $5.00 (you'll have to decide if it's worth it).  As a side note, it's a pretty good app for what it does.


Note: There are two other VGA out browsers currently (5/12/10) in the iTunes store (both $2.99).  One is called "webprojector" the other "Big! Browser".  I can confirm the "Big! Browser" application does not allow the desktop to display through the VGA out adapter (using this hack) and I haven't purchased "webprojector" yet to confirm. 


Step 4.) Connect the iPad VGA adapter to your monitor / TV / projector.  Now startup the Expedition browser, you should see the web content being displayed on your video out device. 


Step 5.) While in the Expedition app, press and hold the home button for a couple of seconds.  You should see a pop up message that says "Backgrounding Enabled" and the app will minimize to the desktop.


Step 6.) You should now see the iPad's desktop being displayed on your video out device.  Enjoy!



Hack Limitations:


There is a little lag time (about 1 second) from what's being displayed on the iPad to when it's displayed on your output device.  Also, it appears any app that uses intensive video or video playback will either disable the connection or the video is of such poor quality it's unusable.  For instance, I tried the Netflix app (which would have been awesome!) but the video is so choppy and slow it's not worth viewing.  


However, more video static apps such as the mail application, iTunes, ibooks, twitterfic, weatherbug and the MLB At Bat app (to name just a few) will display without issue.  


Note: the video out resolution from the iPad is 1024 x 768.  If you are using a video display that doesn't use this as a "native" resolution, then the graphics associated with the apps will not display as sharply as they do on the iPad's screen.  You will probably see better results using this hack on a TV or projector, rather than a computer monitor.  



Other Notes:


I would be surprised if Apple let's this "work around" last very long.  Most likely they will either pull any apps from the app store that allow this little trick, or at the very least get the developers to revise their application.  Again, the "BIG! Browser" app (which offers the same functionality as the Expedition app) doesn't allow the desktop to be displayed when it has been "backrounded".  This tells me the developers of Expedition could add the same functionality to their app, which would render this little VGA trick useless.  :>(  I'll keep my fingers crossed that Apple won't give a crap, as long as it requires a jailbroken iPad.

Update (5/12/10): The developers have a new version coming soon, which has improved the video speed performance.  While this great news for it's intended use, it may end up causing this little trick to stop working.   

Update: (5/13/10) I can confirm that the new version of Expedition (pending release in iTunes) does NOT break this hack.  Yay. :)