Lux, the makers of popular iPhone photography apps like Halide, Spectre and Skylight, is out today with its latest app: Orion, an app that turns an iPad into an external HDMI display for any camera, video game console, or even VHS.
The new app is a bit of an offshoot for Lux, which primarily focuses on developing mobile photography applications. But the company said Orion’s creation was something they came up with as a means of scratching an itch for themselves. In professional photography, it’s common to connect an external monitor to get a better view of the action on a bigger screen. Orion allows for this but also lets you share screenshots with your crew in a few taps, the company explains.
Plus, they said it’s fun to play Nintendo Switch games on a bigger screen when you’re traveling. But to do so, they had to sharpen the resolution. The Switch runs on a 1080p resolution, but most adapters on the market can only run 60 frames per second at 1080p, notes Lux. Orion, however, is able to sharpen those low-resolution inputs using an AI-powered upscaler.
In addition, Orion lets you control the iPad’s screen brightness beyond the device’s built-in controls. So if you’re trying to view video in daylight, you can crank up the brightness to HDR range, but if you’re on a late-night flight, you can make things even darker than the iPad’s darkest option.
The app was inspired by the new features that shipped with iOS 17, one of which was external webcam support on iPad. This got them thinking about how the feature could be used to turn the iPad into a portable screen. Work began on Orion on August 6th and is shipping on September 20th, just 45 days later.
Orion also features a retro-styled design and a visual language that’s based on electronics brochures of the 80’s and VCR interfaces, with nostalgic-looking menus and Lux’s own custom-made pixel font called Radiant.
The app itself is a free download, but Orion Pro for $5 more comes with the AI upscaling feature, CRT emulation for retro games, and image adjustments, plus any other features Lux later ships. There are no subscriptions involved.
Plus, to help users find the right adapters to work with Orion, Lux put together a buying guide with their top recommendations in addition to other accessories, like iPad stands and mounts.