Best Apps for Architects in 2022
For architects, much of their work happens outside the office at project sites and in meetings with clients and contractors.
Being on the road so often, architects lose a lot of time on tasks like transferring and organizing photos, printing and annotating floor plans, measuring, tracking time and expenses, and more.
Luckily, your smartphone or tablet with the right apps on it can help you streamline all these processes.
Today thousands of architects are already using their mobile devices to take the pain out of site inspections, field reports, floor plan annotations, time and expenses, measurements, viewing and editing models on-site, and much more.
And so should you. Harness the power of today’s technology by embracing the apps most useful to architects.
Just imagine, using some of the apps mentioned in this article could help you save half an hour every day, which means 2.5 whole hours every week or 10 hours every month.
Now think about what you could do if, every month, you’d have more than a full day of additional time.
You could work more on winning new projects, streamlining processes, having lunch with one of your best clients, investing more time in marketing, or maybe spending some quality time with your family.
Fortunately, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. We tested lots of apps for architects, analyzed the reviews, and asked our architect community which apps they like best.
Here’s our updated list of the most useful mobile applications for architects in 2022:
- Best Apps for CAD Drawings & 3D Models: AutoCAD Mobile app | BIMx | ViewER | ARki
- Best Apps for Site inspections: ArchiSnapper | CamToPlan | RoomScan LiDAR l Polycam | DroneDeploy | Bluebeam
- Best Apps for Sketching: Morpholio Trace Pro | Procreate | Concepts | Autodesk FormIt
- Best Toolbox Apps: Sun Locator | Construction Master Pro App | Other toolbox apps
- Apps for Productivity and Collaboration
AutoCAD’s mobile app lets you edit, create and view DWG files from your mobile device in the field. This app puts an end to printing and bringing drawings to the site. Draft, edit, mark up and measure plans at the job site or on the go. Collaborate with colleagues and make changes in real-time, reducing communication delays and trips to and from the job site. While heavy-duty CAD work is still best left to your workstation, our architect community rated this as their #1 app for many architects.
- View and edit DWG files from Autodesk’s cloud, or external cloud storage like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
- Mark up drawings and add comments.
- Use the Leica DISTO laser measurement device to update line lengths in real-time directly in the app (Android only).
- Draw and edit shapes using object snap and keypad input.
- Select, move, rotate, and scale objects. View coordinates and properties.
“Access DWG on the fly! AutoCAD mobile is being used to view, edit, and amend drawings on the go. It is most useful when you need to reach out to the needed information outside of the office environment, in construction sites let’s say or wherever you don’t have easy access to the working station remotely or physically.”
Are you an Archicad user? Bridge the gap between the design studio, the client’s office, and the construction site with BIMx, Graphisoft’s presentation, and coordination app. BIMx features the ‘BIM Hyper-model’ – a game-like navigation environment that helps even non-professionals easily explore the building model and understand project deliverables. Real-time model cut-throughs, in-context measuring, and project markups in the model context make BIMx a great BIM companion.
- Gives full access to BIM content like 3D models, construction drawings, schedules, elements, or space information.
- All-round 3D cutaways with animated transactions.
- Hyper-model technology for integrated 2D and 3D building project navigation.
- All the relevant model data is at your fingertips for easy access and sharing.
“Makes communicating a new design concept to a client easier; in the end, this means less likelihood of delivering an end product that differs from their perception.”
“A very intuitive and practical tool for all stakeholders involved in the construction sector. Easy to use for just anyone and conveys the basic information about the building easily.”
BEST FOR | Quickly viewing 3D architectural models
WORKS ON | Android
PRICE | Free
ViewER from AMC Bridge, Inc. helps architects quickly view 3D models from popular file types, and quickly grab models from storage locations, including cloud file software like Dropbox™. It even lets you superimpose CAD model renders over real-time video from your device’s camera to combine digital models with real objects in a single app.
While ViewER is only available for Android devices, iOS users can find similar features in SketchUp Viewer.
- View 3D models in openNURBS (3DM), Wavefront (OBJ), 3D Systems (STL), Stanford Triangle Format (PLY), and Autodesk Inc. (3DS, DXF, DWF) formats.
- Mix CAD models and real footage in AR mode.
- Find and open models on local storage or shared storage like Dropbox.
- Cache models to improve load times.
- Capture images on screen and share them with colleagues.
“Once you figure in your own designs the results are tremendous.”
“Awesome app for viewing models of rhino.”
“Perfect! Just what I need to view my final product.”
BEST FOR | Visualization of 3D projects in Augmented Reality
WORKS ON | iOS
PRICE | Free (1 plan), $19/mo – $220/yr (PRO)
Arki helps architects visualize and experience 3D projects in Augmented Reality. You can use this award-winning app for interactive presentations by importing multiple models and creating dynamic layers and toggles to dive into the different aspects of your design. Or, use the “full scale” option to wander around in your 3D models on-site in real-time.
- Import 3D Models in .FBX file format from software, including 3ds max, Maya, Blender, SketchUp, MicroStation, ArchiCAD, cinema 4d, Revit, Rhino, and more.
- AR/3D Mode: mixed reality allows on-site visualization so that models can be located in any environment or viewed in 3D.
- Visualize models at any scale using AR.
- Create real-time lighting.
“Recently our Architectural Firm was asked to create an interactive presentation for an athletics master plan in an effort to illustrate the design to donors and community members. Our firm and the client are always looking forward to new ideas in technology and this is when we found the Arki app and immediately felt we should pursue the Augmented Reality technology. Our plan was to overlay our Revit models onto a physical site model of the existing conditions. By leveraging the Arki app we could show the clients what the design entailed with an intuitive 3D model that could highlight key programming and phasing of the plan. We supplied iPads to the guests and they were immediately involved and asking questions that would not have been possible with traditional plans and drawings or illustrations.”
BEST FOR | Field reports, inspection reports, and punch lists
WORKS ON | Web, iOS, and Android
PRICE | Free trial, and $25/month per user afterward
Drafting field reports or punch lists from site visits can be very time-consuming and inefficient. ArchiSnapper is the #1 field report app for architects that helps you document items with text, photos, assignees, and floor plan annotations while on-site using your smartphone or tablet. When you’re back at the office, your field report or punch list is available for further editing and sharing. No more struggling with transferring photos or Word to draft field reports.
Noted by both ArchDaily and Architizer as an essential app for architects, ArchiSnapper is already helping 10,000+ architects save time on field reports and punch lists.
- Snap a photo and write text to record any observations or issues.
- Sketch and annotate your photos to communicate more clearly.
- Easily pinpoint observations on your plans helping everyone get crystal clear.
- Generate professional, clean, and branded PDF reports in seconds and send them out to the project team.
- Use voice-to-text to save even more time.
- Collaborate on with assignees on pending items.
- Use checklists for punch lists, daily reports, quality, or safety.
- Integrate with Sharepoint, Deltek Ajera, Deltek Vantagepoint, Dropbox, Google Drive, File Server, Outlook, and more.
“Great Program – HUGE timesaver. Working with ArchiSnapper has been a great success for our construction administration side of the business. We are able to share site conditions and project status easily with everyone that is involved. It was extremely easy to set up and very user-friendly. I would definitely recommend this to other companies where site visit reports are being made.”
“ArchiSnapper reduces the amount of time for our site observation reports by about 50%.” All of the administrative and busy work we used to do is now just handled automatically with ArchiSnapper. It lets us focus on the site visit – observing the site, documenting what’s going on – instead of worrying about managing images, organizing them in the right folders and inserting them into a report.”
CAD software is great for detailed floor plans.
But what if you just want to be able to draft an as-built drawing in a jiffy?
LiDAR, the next thing
With this new LiDAR technology, the latest generation iPhones and iPads have the ability to quickly scan a reasonably accurate 3D model of a place.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging technology) is used to determine distance by measuring how long it takes light to reach an object and reflect back. It’s like radar, except instead of radio waves, it uses infrared light. This data can then be used to construct 3D models. The primary purpose of LiDAR in the iPhone is to improve augmented reality (AR) implementation. It will give apps more useful and accurate information about their surroundings, for smoother, more reliable AR. The iPhone 12 Pro, Pro Max, and 2020 iPad Pro come equipped with a LiDAR scanner, and Apple’s plan likely involves putting LiDAR sensors in more devices over time. Good news for architects, because this technology has the potential to spare you the misery of having to do multiple site visits to get all the measurements you need for a site plan.
Below are three apps that use LiDAR technology to generate 2D or 3D models in no time: CamToPlan, RoomScan LiDAR, and Polycam.
Measuring with CamToPlan is easier than with a laser meter or any other measuring tool. You draw your measurement lines in 3D directly on the video of your phone or tablet, and in just seconds, CamToPlan can create measurements of areas and floor plans. You can export the full 3D model in many formats. This app is ideal for quick estimations and visualizing rooms, floors, furniture, baseboards, and walls.
- Create floor plans with your mobile device’s camera.
- The app measures distance horizontally and vertically.
- Measure wall dimensions, floors, doors, and windows, an entire house within a few seconds.
- Export your data in PNG or DXF.
Client review: “This is the most incredible app yet designed for estimating and doing as-built drawings. I use the app to measure an extremely odd-shaped room that would have taken an hour to measure and draw. It took less than three minutes – what a tremendous time saver. This app should be on everybody’s iPhone who does estimates from millwork flooring real estate etc. Architects are going to love this app.”
NEW! Tasmanic, the creator of CamToPlan, just released a second CamToPlan app named “CamToPlan 3D Scanner“. This app allows scanning a place in 3D in order to build a 3D model:
- You just scan your surroundings with your device camera.
- The 3D scanner only needs a few seconds to digitalize a room or a few minutes to model a large flat or a house.
- Once the scanning is done, you simply add measuring points to measure any distance, length, surface, or area.
- You can export the full 3D model in many formats, including gif, dae and obj.
BEST FOR | Creating professional floor plans with your mobile device’s camera
WORKS ON | iOS – Requires iOS 14.0 or later
PRICE | Free with in-app purchase of $12.5/month for a subscription
RoomScan LiDAR’s developers, Locometric, have a decade of experience creating apps that make the most of iPhone & iPad sensors – and it shows. The RoomScan LiDAR app is as easy to use as tapping each wall and swiping for doors and openings. LiDAR does the rest, enabling you to create an accurate 2D and even 3D model in minutes.
- Quick, accurate floor plans in any building, furnished or unfurnished. RoomScan LiDAR even scans curved walls.
- Annotate your plans with Apple Pencil and you have plans, annotations, measurements, dictated notes, and photos all in one place.
- RoomScan LiDAR combines machine learning with LiDAR scanning to automatically recognize, measure, and place doors, windows, and symbols on your floor plan simply and accurately.
“Faced with the need to measure a four-story home in a short period of time, I figured there must be an app for that and found RoomScan did the trick. Pleased that my pre-purchase questions were answered via a very prompt email, I made the purchase. After a 5-minute learning curve and 30 minutes of scanning, I had the measurements I needed to create accurate enough floor plans for my planning purposes. Accuracy in tight quarters (e.g. closet, stairwell) seemed a bit off, but in a CAD program, I layered the floors on top of one another and honed the dimensions. Had trouble reading (without reading glasses on at the time) the buttons for doors, and found that by the time I figured out which one to press, they had gone away. I decided not to use that bell and whistle, as I can easily get the doors in later using CAD software. Like I said, the app did the trick and saved me a lot of time fiddling with a tape measure.”
BEST FOR | 3D scanning
WORKS ON | iOS (iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, or 2020 iPad Pro)
PRICE | Free with in-app purchase at $6.99/month or $54.99/year.
Another LiDAR-based app that you should definitely give a try is Polycam, a 3D scanning app released in 2020. Just like RoomScan, Polycam uses the LiDAR sensor to enable you to quickly create color 3D scans of spaces. All you need to do is scan the space with your iPad or iPhone. The app generates an accurate 3D scan in a matter of seconds. You can export your 3D scan in many different formats and import it into your CAD program. Last year Polycam released “Photo Mode” which allows you to capture objects in high detail through photogrammetry. In addition to LiDAR Mode, Photo Mode expands the app’s use cases for architects by allowing you to create a library of 3D assets.
Watch the VIDEO on how to scan a space with your iPhone or iPad.
- Use the LiDAR sensor on Pro Apple devices to enable you to quickly create color 3D scans of objects and spaces.
- Single room captures take only seconds to process, and all computation happens securely on your device, no internet connection is required.
- There is no limit to the number of scans you can make or process, which is useful if you want a 3D model of a house or building with multiple spaces.
- Polycam 3D captures are also dimensionally accurate, enabling you to easily measure the distance between any two points.
“Made my life as an architect/civil engineer/interior designer a way better than expected. Auto-generate pdf with high-quality graphics.”
“If you have dreaded measuring as-builts, this is your solution. Reliable fast and all the exports you need.”
Here is a video that shows how an architect creates as-builts using Polycam.
Apps like Polycam are a potential game-changer for architects. As-built modeling serves a variety of purposes such as planning and renovation. The ability to model directly from scan data helps ensure accuracy, precision, and conserve detail of existing real-world conditions or structures. The generated 3D models can be used to generate a variety of outputs such as 2D Drawings, floor plans, elevation drawings and so much more. Using Polycam’s in app measuring tool, you can cross-reference measurements taken by hand to ensure accuracy.
Using photogrammetry, images taken with cameras on drones can be stitched together to create a full-color digital model of the site at a resolution equal to or better than traditional surveying techniques. DroneDeploy makes it easy to pilot drones and convert sites and structures into detailed models.
For inspecting rooftops, or assessing the viability of sites from the sky, DroneDeploy is the ideal accompaniment for architects and landscape architects looking to make the most of drones. For especially large and complex sites, it can turn a job that would take weeks into a single-day operation. It’s a lot easier to fly a drone over a miles-long mining site that spans mountains and ravines than it is to send in a team of surveyors.
- Capture job site data in real-time with Live Map
- Create a 360 virtual tour of your site to assist in planning and coordination
- Track and communicate progress at any stage
- Measure elevation, distance, volumes, surface area, and roof geometry.
“I love the app it’s definitely the best for me for flying projects for work to get measurements and such.”
“I have been using the app since shortly after it was first released and it works great. It is dead simple to use and reliable on Note 8. I have had many instances when DroneDeploy was able to stitch very difficult maps (aerial coral or seagrass) when Pix4D could not. I am incredibly happy.”
BEST FOR | Viewing and editing PDFs on the move
WORKS ON | iOS
PRICE | $349 per seat for the standard package
As we continue to move toward a paperless workflow, architects need a solid PDF program for their tablets. There are plenty of ways to view and edit PDFs on your mobile device, but Bluebeam Revu offers easy PDF editing designed with architects in mind. With Bluebeam, you can quickly markup PDFs with industry-standard symbols and verify measurements, all from your iPhone or iPad.
- Add comments, images, symbols, multimedia, and more with customizable markup tools.
- Embed multiple photos and videos into markups using the iPad camera, as well as image files from the Document Manager or your iPad’s Photo Library.
- Access Studio Projects created in Revu on Windows and check out and edit Project PDFs, regardless of Internet access.
- Start Studio Sessions or join existing ones to collaborate with colleagues in real-time.
“I utilize BlueBeam Revu pretty much on a daily basis whether it be to open/review documents (as a PDF reader) or to edit/modify documents etc. It has become a HUGE tool for me, a time saver AND a stress saver as well!”
BEST FOR | Unique drawing tool that allows you to easily develop ideas in layers, and communicate via drawing markup.
WORKS ON | iOS
PRICE | Free, with a Pro subscription at $19,99/year.
Created by architects, for architects, Morpholio Trace allows you to instantly draw to scale on top of PDF drawing sets, maps, 3D models, images, or background grids. Unlike other sketching apps, Trace comes with scale tools, so you can use any two points to set a scale in imperial or metric units. This app pushes the boundaries of AR technology, providing you a truly cutting-edge sketching experience. Trace combines the beauty and speed of sketching with the intelligence and precision of CAD
This app gets great press and recognition in the architecture world and has been awarded by Apple as a top sketch and drawing app. Architects love this high-tech version of tracing paper.
- Create designs with pens, brushes, scale tools, stencils, and moveable layers.
- Drag in a 3D model and auto-set perspective grids.
- Mark up drawing sets, 3D models, photos, or contact sheets.
- Use the Augmented Reality to jump into and walk around your drawings with others.
- Calculate areas while you sketch using SmartFill.
- Instant scale: use any two points to set a scale in imperial or metric units.
“It really takes the power of iPad and Pencil and makes a tool that really is powerful and intuitive to use for marking up drawings and sketching out ideas. The big game-changer is using PDFs with multiple sheets. Now, every time I have a call or meeting, I open the set in Trace and we make real-time sketches, take notes, and can send out a PDF of the set in seconds.”
“Morpholio Trace is an amazing app that I’ve integrated into my everyday workflow. Being an architectural designer, I am constantly asked to quickly produce visual ideas to help communicate ideas to clients and the public. Morpholio has allowed me to create repeatable styles, that in turn, has allowed me to do even more professionally with the app. The power in it for me is the simple yet powerful tools and being able to easily switch between them, almost like using my analogy drawing tools. The Multi PDF importer is one of my favourite features, and being able to swap out individual background pages and update sketches is a huge time saver.”
BEST FOR | Generating high-caliber artwork at a blistering pace using a robust layering system, and stunning filters.
WORKS ON | iOS – iPad Pro with Apple Pencil
PRICE | $9.99 (one-time fee)
With Procreate, you get everything you need to create impressive sketches, illustrations, and animations. Hundreds of handmade brushes help you draw accurately and it’s great for working with layers: once you have the beginning of an idea you want to grow, just create a new layer of white, turn down the opacity, add a new drawing layer on top of that, and begin sketching again.
Procreate’s powerful and intuitive interface always puts your art in focus. It actually feels like you’re drawing with a real pencil. The 30k+ ratings with 4.5 as average show just how much love this app gets from its millions of users. While not strictly designed for architectural purposes, Procreate is one of the most popular apps used by architects for sketching and designing.
- Quick shape feature for perfect shapes.
- Select-and-fill technique to add colour to an area defined by the selection tool.
- Layer your art for precise control over details and composition.
- Import a reference image that will remain in view while drawing.
- New in 2022: Page Assist, to enhance the ideation experience by providing a streamlined sketchbook-like workflow with super-fast layer navigation, and directly supporting PDF import/export
“Best app for architects and designers. I tried every design and drawing app that shows up on the App Store. This one is the most complete and the easiest to use. There is no getting lost in the interface and drawing in this app has become an extension of my hand. It is the most intuitive drawing software I have ever used. Sure, there are features in other apps that I’d like to see such as drawing to scale, calculating area, wet watercolor brushes that bleed, importing 3D model views, and saving views that would get this a 6-star rating, but the beautiful brushes, the ability to create brush blocks for repeated objects, the drawing guides that don’t require you to actually move the guide around speed up the process enough that the missing features don’t make drawing clumsy.”
“Procreate is one of the best drawing applications available for IOS devices, it’s a very intuitive application that you can learn by practicing for a few hours. It has a lot of Brushes, working with layers, and an export facility in any format.”
In this video, an architect compares Morpholio and Procreate.
Concepts is a vector-based sketching app used by architects around the world to design homes, communities, and urban landscapes. Flexible, accurate, and extremely responsive, it offers a faster way for creatives to design naturally. One of the features that helps Concepts stand out from other similar applications is its digital sketching paper, which provides an almost natural paper-like feel. The app has been around for many years and has won Best of, Creative and Design awards with Apple, Google, and Samsung for its infinite drawing experience and customizable UI.
- Flexible: Pick up anything you’ve ever drawn with a tap+hold, and copy it, measure it, change the tool or line weight or colors, or just throw it away. It’s the beauty of traditional tools with the power of vectors.
- Draw with realistic pens, markers, brushes, and CAD-like tools
- Use unlimited imports and layers for tracing.
- Design with real-world scale, measurement, and grids.
- Import plans, PDFs, and images to scale and apply measurements using Concepts’ precision tools, shape guides, and grids.
“The Concepts app has not changed what I do, just transformed how I do it. It offers me the power, flexibility, and adaptability of technology with all the sensitivity and immediacy of traditional hand drawing. In short, it is an app that I now cannot imagine being without, and the only time I’ve experienced something that betters pen and paper.”
“Having the ability to draw with real accuracy on the iPad using a tool like Concepts has fundamentally changed my workflow. Now, both the initial sketches and the more polished products live side-by-side in the same documents, and I can go back and forth from freehand to highly technical drawings without even switching to a new document.”
BEST FOR | AEC 3D sketching and environment analysis for conceptual and computational design workflows
WORKS ON | Web, iOS, Windows
PRICE | Free or Paid (FormIt PRO). Note: FormIt Pro is available only as part of the Autodesk AEC Collection, which also includes Revit, Autocad, and more.
FormIt aims to bridge the gap between pencils and pixels, giving architects the ability to sketch out their ideas in three dimensions right at the beginning of the process by offering sketching and 3D modeling capabilities. You can use the app to create models on your phone or tablet, and use real-world site information, solar analysis, and energy analysis during the early design stage of a project. It all adds up to help you make informed decisions earlier in the design process.
While SketchUp has been dominating this space, Autodesk FormIt is a worthy contender, offering intuitive 3D sketching, and conceptual design that helps drive robust BIM. What makes FormIt different from SketchUp is integration. From the outset, FormIt supports a BIM workflow, with the ability to import models and associated data seamlessly to Revit for advanced development. Given that Revit is used by an overwhelming majority of architects to create construction-ready drawings in collaboration with engineers, this is a crucial advantage.
- Create models on your tablet with 3D sketching tools.
- FormIt supports iteration with Revit to connect your design concepts to BIM without remodeling.
- Use real-world site information to help create forms in context and support early design decisions with real building data.
- Insight helps you optimize building and glazing performance.
- Visualize the solar impact of heat gain on the surfaces of your model.
- Explore the effects of the sun using the location-aware shadow study tool.
- Real-time collaboration: design with your team in the same model, in real-time.
“This Autodesk app is simply wonderful. The user that takes the time to learn it will be highly rewarded. Keep in mind that the app will not replace the high-end 3D creation/visualization tools from Autodesk or others but will allow you to give basic shape to most architectural and even industrial design concepts. Highly recommended.”
“Beautifully executed in layout, 3D design, and iPad user interface. Simple, clean, and very well thought out. One of the highest level and enjoyable apps that I’ve seen for the iPad.”
You’ll have all kinds of questions while assessing a site. For example, does a neighboring building obstruct the sun and cause shade? How much sunshine will a house get? Will the sun shine through a window at particular times? Sun Locator answers these questions by providing useful data like the solar path, the winter and summer solstice paths, and sunrise and sunset times. Using a highly interactive augmented 3D view, you can instantly determine the amount of sunlight your building will receive.
This app isn’t intended solely for architects, but it makes for a superb companion for the job. Sun Locator is currently Android-exclusive, but iOS users can use an alternative app called Sun Seeker ($9.99)
- 3D sundial, to visualize the sun’s position and the shadow direction and length over the course of the day and year on an interactive map.
- Augmented reality sun and moonlight simulation, to fast-forward from sunset to sunrise for any time and day of the year through your camera.
- Day and night world map, an interactive visualization of the earth showing daylight and twilight regions.
- The Lite version is free and limited to information for the current day; the Pro version enables you to get information for any day of the year and to adjust the height of the sundial in the map view.
“Great app! I used the paid version to locate the best place for my solar panels. Easy to use with lots of useful information. Easy to locate the sun’s exact position every day of the year and at any time of the day. Using the camera view, you can see any obstructing trees or buildings.”
“Very comprehensive and useful tool for exterior architecture photography.”
BEST FOR | Solving construction-math problems on-site, including completing layouts, plans, bids, and estimates
WORKS ON | iOS, Android, Windows
PRICE |$4.99/month or $39.99/year on iOS. $29.99 on Android (soon to switch to a subscription model)
The Construction Master Pro App helps you solve tough architecture-related mathematical problems, like calculating areas or volumes, laying out stairs, figuring out how much drywall to use, and calculating right-angle solutions. It saves you having to carry around a physical calculator and decreases errors on-site or in the office.
- Dimensional math and conversions.
- A host of right-angle tools, including irregular hip/valley and jack rafters.
- Expanded and arched rake wall.
- Area, volume, and perimeter solutions with length, width, and height keys.
- Sine, cosine, tangent, arcsine, arccosine, and arctangent trigonometric functions, and a selection of built-in solutions for quick and easy completion of layouts, plans, bids, and estimates.
“I’ve had this calculator at my architecture office for many years. I use it every single day. It’s the only one I could find that can do trig functions with feet/inch measurements. It’s an essential tool for anyone in the architecture/design/
“Have used my desktop model for 30 years and couldn’t live without it until this app. Although the giant desktop is great for crunching numbers at home I always use the app on the job site.”
Level: various apps help you measure the level of an object or surface. If you’re an iOS user, use this feature in the Measure app (see below); if you’re an Android user, try Bubble level.
Measure: iOS augmented reality app developed by Apple for the iPhone and iPad. You can quickly gauge the size of objects, and automatically detect the dimensions of rectangular objects.
My Measures: take a photo of an object and add dimensions (arrows, angles, photos of details) and equip them with text comments for easier understanding. Perfect for recording and sharing measurements made during site visits. Available on iOS and Android.
Planimeter: This GPS tool (iOS, $7.99) uses a satellite map to make quick site measurements, including perimeters, distances, and angles, in imperial or metric units. The app is easy to use; just drop pins around the area you want to measure on the map. For Android, try Planimeter.
Scala: An architectural and engineering scale shrunk down into app form, this iOS app combines imperial architectural, metric architectural, and engineering scales in a handy app. You can even create custom variable scales if your drawings aren’t on a known scale. With this app, you’ll always have a scale with you.
Houzz: this free app is perfect when you need inspiration for your design project. With thousands and millions of photos of exteriors and interiors, this app allows you to save images, and visualize your finished project.
Don’t forget to complement the typical apps for architects mentioned above, with more traditional business apps to maximize your overall productivity while you are on the go.
OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive: access to all your documents and files wherever you are
With cloud tools like these, you get access to all your documents and files wherever you are and share them seamlessly with anybody. But you can also easily switch between your desktop or laptop in the office and your mobile device on the go. No more struggling with getting access to the right documents and information while you are meeting a client or creating a punch list. If you’re already using Office 365 I’d recommend going for OneDrive as it integrates really well. Moving to a cloud-based system should be the #1 priority for every architect who hasn’t done so already.
Microsoft ToDo, Google Tasks, Basecamp, Trello: managing To-Do lists and collaborating
Having a To-Do list is essential. With so many things going on, like client information, requests, incoming phone calls, or emails, you don’t want to keep all things that require action in your memory. You need a system where you can record and manage the things that will require your attention, later, when you’re done with your current task. This frees up your mental RAM and gives you the clarity and focus to be productive and have no stress. Some architects have a To-Do list per project. Here you can find an article on how to use Trello as an architect. Interested in stress-free productivity? I’d recommend the book ‘Getting Things Done’ by Paul Allen: it helps you set up a system of lists, reminders, and weekly reviews, in order to free your mind from having to remember tasks and to-dos and instead let it work at full focus on the task at hand.
Expensify: receipt and expense management
Expensify makes it easy to expense lunch, travel, fuel, and more while you’re out and about. Expensify automates every step, from receipt scanning to reimbursement, making it easier to keep track of each expense. Simply take a photo of a receipt and Expensify automatically reads and transcribes the receipt data, then adds it to an expense report. These reports can even be submitted automatically, approved, and even reimbursed the very next day.
Waze, Google Maps: Avoiding traffic jams
Waze is a free navigation app that helps you get from A to B faster. It uses live user feedback to find better routes. And if traffic is bad, Waze will find a new route to cut down on travel time. Waze (or Google Maps, which is very similar) is a must-have for every architect that spends time on the road.
Harvest, Toggl, Timecamp, Hubstaff: Time Tracking
With these apps, you can log the time spent on a project whenever and wherever you are. No need to use separate notes or excel when you get back at the office. Just tap start and stop the timer on your phone, and at the end of the month, you’ll be able to report on and invoice the time spent per project.
Take advantage of one or more of these apps to help you save time, gain an edge on your peers — and work smarter instead of harder.
Get the right apps and set your productivity free
We’ve covered some of the best apps for different parts of the average architect’s workday. To learn more about how your smartphone can transform every part of your architecture work, take a look at some of our other blogs:
- Best Tablets for Architects and Engineers in 2022
- 11 Ways to Make Your iPhone or iPad Your Best Construction Tool
- 11 Ways Architects and Engineers Can Get the Most Out of Their Android Phone or Tablet