8 Best Architecture Apps in 2016
Put down the pen and paper. Leave the laptop at your desk. Do it now.
If you aren’t making the most out of your phone or tablet then you are falling behind the new industry standards. You need to harness the power of today’s smartphone processors, connectivity capabilities, and clever transformations by utilizing all the apps that are useful for architects and other construction professionals. If you don’t, you are likely throwing away hours per week. The right apps can boost your productivity by more than 200%, giving you more time to spend where you need it most.
Consider this: If using apps to help in business can save you just an hour a day (and I guarantee you that this is possible), that’s five whole hours per week, every single week. Imagine all the things you could do if you all of a sudden had five extra hours available to play with every week (which basically means about 30 days a year!!). You could focus your attention on behind-schedule projects, take on new contracts and bill more hours, invest more time in marketing your office, or for some of you see your children actually grow up :-). And all that without working any dreaded overtime. You’ve just found room in the schedule you didn’t even know you had!
(Psst, little secret: If you are not alone in your company, but you are a studio of 10 architects, that’s a whopping 300 days a year of extra time. HELL YEAH!)
Obviously, there is always a small upfront investment involved in starting using a certain productivity optimisation. You might need 1 – 12 hours getting used to a new app or system. However, once the new app or system is a part of your routine, you have just created yourself a huge “return on time investment”.
I know that everyone of you is very busy all the time (taking urgent phone calls, pleasing clients and hunting deadlines), and it is never a good moment to start using new apps or software. But that’s exactly why you are so busy all the time. No software or apps in place to boost your productivity makes you a busy person with no time to try out and set up any productivity apps. You need to turn the tide. Hold on and invest a minute of your time to gain tons of time back in the future. Do it now!
Get the most out of your day by employing the full arsenal of apps available on the market. We’ve rounded up 8 of the best in breed in 2016 to get you started with building your personalized pocket toolkit.
The 8 Best Architecture Apps in 2016:
1. Morpholio Trace
Best For: Drawing revisions and sketching
Operating System: iOS
Cost: Free, with in app purchases available for add-ons
Morpholio Trace is the one sketching app that no architect should be without. Used with an iPad or iPad Pro and stylus, this app is the perfect extension of traditional drawing and sketching methods. You can use it to create designs with color, templates, styles and layers, import images from other sources, take pictures and add markups, and then use the images to communicate clearly your ideas with team members and clients. The app even has the loving touch of the Canary Yellow trace paper background.
Over 8 million downloads can’t be wrong. MagicPlan from Sensopia is the room scanning app that uses input from either your smartphone or tablet to devise complete floor plans. Use the app to shoot pictures of the corners of the room which is then turned into measurements and can be fine-tuned in the 2D overview. Scan multiple rooms to complete floor plans of entire buildings, and add furniture from their library if desired. MagicPlan floor plans can be exported to PDF, JPEG, HTML and DXF formats for ongoing use. This app will take a bit of practice to get the hang of, but once you’re familiar with how it works it is an indispensable tool.
Combine With: Floorplanner for easy online 3D views and exports for clients or AutoCAD for use back in the office.
Best Alternative: RoomScan
Be On The Lookout For: Project Tango apps from Google. Still in their infancy, these apps will have the ability to create full 3D scans all from your Android device.
Lacking in creativity or have a client that isn’t sure what they want? You need an app that can help inspire you. Houzz has an extensive collection of over seven million photos of both house interiors and exteriors. Add filters such as style, budget, room, size and location for more accurate results. You can also use the app to connect with other professionals such as interior decorators, purchase featured products and even advertise your services to prospective clients.
Combine With: Your networking skills, by using the app to find other professionals to work with and new clients to bring in.
Best Alternative: Pinterest
4. AutoCAD 360
Best for: AutoCAD on the go
Cost: The basic version is free, however the recommended Pro Plans start from $4.99 per month
AutoCAD 360 is the natural extension to your AutoCAD desktop that lets you share plans across your desktop, mobile and web, all in the DWG format. The Pro version of the app allows you to collaborate on designs with others in real time, create new drawings directly from your mobile, use Arc, Arrow and Extend Vertex tools, accurately measure dimensions and add properties and attributes to objects. The Pro versions come with either 25GB or 100GB of storage or can be hooked up to other online storage solutions such as DropBox. Forget bringing drawings to site using this powerful app.
Combine With: Autodesk Formit 360 Pro for seamless BIM integration
5. BIMx PRO
Best For: ArchiCAD on the go
Operating System: iOS
If you’re more at home with ArchiCAD, then you will want to consider purchasing BIMx PRO for iOS devices from Graphisoft. The app gives full control of your BIM projects with a cloud interface for working on site. Zone info is all interactive and you can send your 2D and 3D models directly to an AirPrint-capable printer. Other features include 3D cutaways, contextual hyperlinks within the models and paid share facilities so that you can easily share designs with clients or other stakeholders after they download the free version of the app, BIMx. The free version can also be downloaded on Android devices.
Combine With: An AirPrint-capable printer
6. Architect’s Formulator
Best For: Easy access to all your formulas
Operating System: iOS
Never again have to go searching for any formulas that you need with Architect’s Formulator. Don’t be put off by its basic interface, this app contains over 500 formulas for use on the job. The formulas are separated into categories including Acoustic, Concrete and Excavating, Material Weight, Steel and Structural, and the app has an in built calculator for performing calculations. Add formulas to Favorites and save for offline viewing later. This app is the alternative to a custom architect’s calculator – why carry around two devices when one will do?
Tip: Purchase the Pro version instead for extras based on codes such as the American for Disabilities Act Codes and NJ Codes.
7. Sun Surveyor
Well-designed buildings are always constructed to take advantage of a site’s maximum natural light available. Using Sun Surveyor allows architects to take photos on site and plot the sun’s course throughout not only the day but the entire year. The information obtained will inform users of the best use of space, in particular window placement, giving a clearer outline of the best way to maximize light in the property. The app links in with maps, shows moon phases and allows easy sharing of data too.
Best Alternative: Sun Seeker
Best For: Creating field reports
Operating System: iOS and Android
Cost: Free app, with backend subscription from $24/month
Creating field reports from site visits can be a long and tedious process. Our ArchiSnapper app is developed in-house and designed to automate this paperwork process. The app takes all the grunt work out of preparing reports. Using your smartphone or tablet to collect photographs, sketches and annotations, ArchiSnapper can number and classify all your observations. Data is synced to the cloud and then output to a field report format which can then be fine-tuned for maximum effect. Share the PDF report with stakeholders and clients direct from your device – without any need to go back to the office or pull out the laptop.
Tip: ArchiSnapper comes with a 30 day free trial
Compliment your full suite of architecture apps with important day to day tools like, Google Drive or Dropbox for cloud storage, Asana or Toggl for team-based and personal task and time tracking, FreshBooks for invoicing and Trello for todo’s. Don’t only just use your phone for taking funny pictures of your cat hunting your socks, make it your powerful ally for work too.
If you have any apps that you recommend we should stick in our toolbox, then make sure to let us know in the comments below.
Hey, btw… could I ask you a little favor? It takes quite some hours to write this blogpost, but it only takes a minute to share it online. Could you please tweet, like, or share this post? It motivates me to write better and more. It also gives me an explanation for my wife on why I spend sundays writing blogposts :-)