The Top 20 Mobile Apps for Architects
These Apps Will Make Your Digital Design Efforts Easier
Many architects spend much of their time hunched over digital design software. Creating great models is crucial for helping clients visualise buildings. However, architects also do plenty of work outside the office. They need to scope out different locations and consider how environmental issues could affect their buildings. They also have to carry out site visits, often when meeting clients.
This means they need to have access to their work on the go. Mobile technology has advanced enormously in recent years to meet this end. Cloud-based software now allows architects to access their work no matter where they are. You could create a design at the office and access it using a smartphone or tablet computer to show clients on-site. Alternatively, you can gather data from a site and instantly relay it back to the office.
Of course, you need the right mobile apps to do this well. Here are 20 of the best mobile apps for architects.
Arrette Scale (iOS)
Ideal for collaborative work, Arrette Scale allows you to create scale drawings that you can share with others. The base application emulates the graph paper many architects use. This means you can save a lot of paper using the app instead of creating physical drawings. Its connection to the cloud then allows easy sharing with others on the project. Further, it integrates with several iOS applications. These include Apple’s Photos and Maps apps. You can use these to create even more detailed and accurate sketches.
AutoCAD 360 (Windows, Android, and iOS)
AutoCAD 360 is the cloud-based version of the AutoCAD Software. This allows you to access many of the software’s key features on mobile devices. You can adjust measurements while working on-site and annotate your drawings. Further, because it is cloud-based the software allows you to share your work with team members. If you pay the subscription fee for the Pro app you gain access to other editing features too. The software receives regular updates in return for your subscription fee.
Concept Idea Calculator (iOS)
Concept Idea Calculator offers architects the chance to create quick visualisations of their ideas. In essence, it is a calculator dedicated to architecture. It uses industry-relevant span-to-depth ratios in its calculations. Better yet, it offers these ratios for a range of materials. These include concrete, steels, and woods. You can use the app to quickly figure out structural calculations for an idea. In some cases, it can help you get a basic design drawn up without the need to use any paper.
Architect’s Formulator (iOS)
Formulae prove to be a problem area for many students and new architects. Architect’s Formulator can help with that. It contains several formulae related to structural examination. Better yet, it also hosts formulae for several fields related to architecture. These include plumbing, acoustics, and carpentry. All told, it has over 400 formulae. You can even edit the formulas to use non-standard units. You can save then save the ones you use and the app pulls up a list of recently used formulas whenever you open it up.
Paper is all about showing off your ideas. It helps you capture sketches and notes. You can then share them via the internet. Designed with the iPad’s display in mind, Paper offers a fluid workflow that maximises the iPad’s capabilities. The useful flipbook gallery style allows you to navigate quickly using a touchscreen. Developers FiftyThree, Inc. has committed to several updates, too. Most recently, the company has released a Bluetooth stylus pencil to make drawing using the app even easier.
iRhino 3D (iOS)
Rhino 3D has established itself as one of the leading digital design software for architects. It allows for the creation of detailed models and it can create photorealistic renders. Until recently, architects had to show these renders to clients using the software. iRhino 3D changes that. The software is still in fairly bare bones state. However, it does allow you to view any 3DM models you create in Rhino 3D on your mobile device. It doesn’t allow editing but that feature may come in later versions of the app.
Morpholio Trace (iOS)
Available completely free, Morpholio Trace help architects create solid sketches using existing designs. You can import any number of background templates or images into the app. It offers several drawing tools so that you can add to these images using your mobile device. You can also distribute the sketches easily using the app. This has led to it becoming one of the most popular sketching apps on the market. It’s also part of a larger app development project. This means it may soon have an array of compatible apps to create a full design suite.
ViewER works in much the same was as iRhino 3D. It allows you to view your models no matter where you are. Where it differs is in its compatibility. ViewER can display many more file types that iRhino 3D. In addition to 3DM models, ViewER supports several AutoDesk file formats. These include DWF and 3DS. Again, you can’t edit the models in the app. However, it is great for showing off your models to clients when on-site. It is also ideal for architects who work using several types of digital design software.
MagicPlan (Android and iOS)
With MagicPlan you can create quick estimates for your work. It shines when working with floor plans. It helps you create quick room measurements. From these, you can generate detailed floor plans. Best of all, it requires no drawing on your part. All you need to do is take some pictures with your mobile device’s camera. The app does the rest of the work for you. This cuts down the time it takes to create indoor estimates. In fact, you could have a full floor plan in your hands in a matter of minutes.
ArchiSnapper (Android and iOS)
ArchiSnapper is a great app for working architects. It is less useful for students, as it focuses almost entirely on on-site work. With ArchiSnapper you can handle the less interesting jobs related to the field. These include gathering site data and creating reports about your projects. It helps you save data and create reports without the need to fill out paperwork for every little job. Best of all, it saves these reports to the cloud and uses your mobile device’s camera. That means less equipment to take to a site. You can even save your reports in PDF format for distribution.
Autodesk Formit (Android and iOS)
Few apps help you create on-site models as well as Autodesk Formit. You can use your data to create surprisingly detailed 3D building designs while you’re on the move. Formit helps you along with a full library of shapes. You can design directly and use gestures to change these shapes to suit your need. As with most mobile apps, Formit also uses the cloud. This means you can save your quick designs and share them with others. Better yet, you can access the designs when you’re back in the office and continue your work on them.
Graphisoft BIMx (iOS)
Building information modelling (BIM) is a key aspect of sustainable building design. Graphisoft’s BIMx app should appeal to any who use BIM in their work. The app’s key feature is its “Hyper-models”. These help you to navigate the complexities of both 2D and 3D building models. The app also allows you to bring your whole project team together. Its user-friendly interface makes it just as useful for construction teams as it is for architects.
Sun Seeker (iOS)
An interesting app, Sun Seeker is not as focused on the architectural field as other apps in this list. Still, it makes a great companion tool for architects. Sun Seeker is all about helping you find the best sources of sunlight. It incorporates data relating to solstices and the times for both sunset and sunrise. It also uses augmented reality. This helps you determine solar paths based on intervals every hour. It proves useful when making any design decisions that relate to lighting for your buildings. You can even use the data the app provides to emulate real-world lighting conditions in your modelling software.
Pixlr Express (Android and iOS)
At its most basic, Pixlr Express is like the photo editing tools that your mobile device already has. However, a little exploration shows that the app offers much more than those simple tools. You can use it to add overlays and masks to your photographs. Further, it features an array of options for adding some extra style to your photographs. These include focal blur and colour splash options. As such, Pixlr Express is great for editing your initial site photos. You can use the tool to create better pictures that will impress your clients.
PadCAD (Android and iOS)
PadCAD acts as a great starting point for really simple design work. Architects can use it for minor remodelling and home extension products. It also proves pretty useful when generating site surveys. Simplicity is key here. The app has a simple user-interface that allows you to quickly knock together a CAD drawing on the spot. You can then import this drawing to a more professional software to add the more detailed touches.
Buildings (Android and iOS)
Most people enter architecture because they have passion for the field. The Buildings app is perfect for keeping those creative juices flowing. It uses GPS technology to find any interesting examples of architecture near your position. In addition to guiding you to the building, the app maintains an extensive library of information. This makes it a great learning tool for students. It’s also a great way to get to sites of architectural importance without having to trawl through less useful information. The app acts as a superb resource for anybody who enjoys architecture.
SketchBook (Android and iOS)
People point to SketchBook as the best sketching app on the market for a reason. It has one of the most user-friendly interfaces around. This makes it simple for architects to knock together quick drawings without getting deluged under an array of tools. Having said that, the app has plenty of features. You have access to an array of sketching tools and you can change the size of the canvas to suit your needs. Better yet, the app comes with multi-touch support. You can even save your sketches to an in-app gallery for later access.
SketchUp Mobile Viewer (Android and iOS)
SketchUp is rightfully one of the most popular pieces of design software. That’s why the company has released the SketchUp Mobile Viewer. It works in much the same was as iRhino 3D. You can access and view your SKP files no matter where you are. Better yet, the app connects to your SketchUp 3D Warehouse. That means you can instantly download any models on the go. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t allow editing at this time.
RoomScan Pro (iOS)
RoomScan Pro is probably the biggest competitor to MagicPlan out there. Like that software, RoomScan helps architects create detailed floor plans quickly. The key feature of the app is that it can do all of this in less than one minute. All you need to do is tap the phone against each wall of a building while the app runs. It then generates a floor plan based on the data that it gathers. The app is very simple to use. Recent updates have also made it useful for designing staircases and outdoor floor plans.
Isometric (Android and iOS)
Simplicity lies at the heart of the Isometric app. While you won’t use it to create detailed models, it does offer a simple set of tools for creating attractive models. All you need to do is tap the app a couple of times to place rhombuses and other shapes on an isometric grid. You can make a quick building design in minutes. The app takes some adjusting to if you’re used to more technical apps and software. Still, it’s ideal for knocking up quick models when you’re in a rush.
The Final Word
Each of these mobile apps offers something unique to the user. By using them, you can save a lot of time and energy when working outside the office. From accessing your designs through to creating sketches and quick models, these apps make the entire process easier. Best of all, they help you save on paperwork. You won’t need to hunt through reams of blueprints to find the work you’re looking for. You will also save money that you would have spent on various materials.
Many of these apps work as perfect complements to more traditional types of digital design software. Some, such as iRhino 3D, work directly with their parent software. As such, each app speeds up your workflow. Consider downloading each one today.
Archistar Academy offers several courses across the spectrum of digital design software. You’ll develop your skills, allowing you to create more accurate and functional models.
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Posted on 10 Dec 2018