Its been a while since I last did a roundup of apps for architects. Of all the apps I featured last time Adobe Ideas is my favorite and the one I still actively use. Its time for round 2 and like everything in the tech world, things look better. We have faster tablets and better apps. When I say 'we' I mean other people...I'm still on my first gen iPad and it refuses to grow old.
As the tablet and smartphone market has grown bigger, some of the bigger names have jumped in and there are some really nice apps out there that were earlier available only on a desktop.....the ones I'm most excited about are Bluebeam for iPad and Autodesk FormIt.
Bluebeam Revu iPad: ($9.99 iOS)
Its a pretty good tablet version of one of my favorite desktop apps. If you have used bluebeam, you know what I'm taking about. Here's a playlist of videos from Bluebeam explaining the app and how to use it.
Also try AutoCAD 360 (formerly AutoCAD WS) for viewing and annotating AutoCAD files. I featured it in my previous blog on apps and its still on my first screen. Great for viewing dwg email attachments on the go.
Those of you who have been waiting for sketchup for iPad, Autodesk has done it first and its free!
Autodesk FormIt (Free, iOS)
watch this video and download the app because its free and its worth playing with. Its a good app but I'm not sure if I'm ready to ditch the mouse yet.
Project Management/ Construction Admin and Field Apps
Tablet is a very convenient device to use in the field for reference and documentation. There were a few punch list apps the last time around but the field has matured with some really useful apps for the field.
BIM 360 Field (Free app with Subscription, iOS):
The app by Autodesk is free but requires a paid BIM 360 field subscription to use. Apart from regular site documentation features, the app allows you to view 3D BIM files on your iPad.
Newforma Suite of Apps (Free, Project Teams app on both iOS and Android, rest iOS only ) If you are into project management, you must have used or heard about the desktop application. Mobile Apps are free to use but you need Newforma project cloud or Newforma info exchange in order to use.
Constructware Field (Free, iOS) constructware users can use the free app to view, download and upload project documents including drawings and images on their mobile device.
Archisnapper (Free app with paid subscription, iOS & Android)
Another field report app to take pictures, notes, make sketches etc on the field and create a report right from the app. Click here for more details. You can download the app for free and use the 30 day free trial to test it out.
Tired of all the paid and subscription based apps? Try Bosch Toolbox. Bosch is better known for their fine tools but not a bad deal for a free app.
Reference & CE Apps
Sweets Building Products (Free, iOS & Android)
A very basic app for using the sweets catalogue on your mobile or tablet. looks more like a mobile web based tool but still a good thing to keep handy. The thought of those rack full of green volumes makes me nostalgic!
Arcat (Free, iOS and Android) Much better designed app than sweets and integrates with Autodesk apps to open CAD and BIM files on your iPad. I prefer this over sweets.
Architectural Record Continuing Education (Free, iOS) If you are like me and have to resort to last minute scramble to finish your required CE credits then look no further. Now you have no excuse if they audit you! AEC Daily...where are you?
ICC Market: This app for iPad allows users to purchase and use PDF versions of International Code Council's publications on their iPads.
Dropbox (Free, iOS and Android)
My favorite document management app with 2GB free space and more if you pay. Its simple and easy to use and integrates well with my laptop- just like a drag and drop folder. No more FTP please!
Genius Scan (Free with paid enhancements, iOS & Android)
This thing is awesome! take a snap and the app offers the option of correcting the perspective and in 2 steps you have a nice clean scan. Forget legal documents, I'm thinking about those pesky little receipts I have to scan each time I do the expense report. Try out the free version and if you like it you could get the paid version and have the ability to save scans to the cloud (dropbox, google drive etc)
After a few years of using an iPad, I believe that the true potential for tablet and smartphone apps lie in enhancing the mobility factor instead of trying to emulate the desktop environment. When I'm working (like writing this blog) I still prefer the good old laptop but I don't want to lug it with me when going to the site or a meeting. I want to have my drawings and documents handy so I could view and mark them up and take pictures and tag them and it should all tie up neatly so I don't have to spend hours after coming back to the office in trying to put together my notes and photographs. Looks like its happening!