We live in the electronic age. You probably read the newspaper on your phone today. You might actually be reading this article on a screen somewhere while on the move. We live in a world where our gadgets have taken over and simplified majority of the tasks in our lives.
We have apps that do virtually everything, from monitoring our health to telling us which roads to avoid because of traffic to apps that control other apps in our homes. These applications have not only made our personal lives easier but they have made our professional lives much easier. The architectural field has its own share of life easing apps that have transformed and eased the design process immensely. The architectural workstation has evolved from the initial drawing table with the fixed T-square to the desktop pcs to laptops and 55” touchscreens to handheld portable devices.
In acknowledgement of these advancements, I’ve done a review of 7 must have apps on your phone for any architect or designer out there:
This is an app by an American company FIFTYTHREE. This application lets you do illustrations, sketches, drawings and layouts and share them easily with anyone. It has a vast bank of filters and themes. It basically gives you a blank canvas and five basic tools from which you can create almost anything. Its minimalist UI and real easy tools to use saw this app win the Apple design award and also win the apple app of the year a few years back. It’s one of the most downloaded design apps across the globe. The app comes with its own stylus that makes drawing and coloring much easier. The app runs on an iOS platform. FIFTYTHREE are currently on working on bringing it to the Android and Windows platform. The app is designed to run on all iOS devices regardless of the device’s specifications.
An app by world renowned Autodesk. It’s an app for anyone who loves to draw and is a must have tool for any digital artist. It is a blank canvas that gives you an array of brushes, pens and thousands of colors to bring your ideas and concepts to life. It lets you view your design in any of the hundreds of available artistic styles on offer. Makes your presentations comes to life. It can be used for buildings, structures, free hand drawings and even life forms. It can also be used to come up with abstract art ideas and concepts. It has the basic tools and hundreds of additional ones that you can use in editing your work or creating it. It runs on all available platforms iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon. Its UI is friendly and easy to use. Each tool has its own pop-up dialog box for the settings.
Another app from Autodesk. It is a free drawing and drafting app that allows users to view, edit and share 2D or 3D AutoCAD drawings on handheld devices while on the move. The cloud computing option allows for designs to be saved and accessed across multiple platforms. It has all the basic tools of any CAD software right on your handheld device. You can rotate, scale, add text and drag but to mention a few. It basically allows you the freedom of using AutoCAD but on your phone or tablet. It runs on the iOS and Android platforms.
Frequent users of ArchiCAD will be pleased with this one. This is a BIM project viewer that features BIMx Hyper-Model which basically enables the full integration of 2D and 3D building plans for ArchiCAD users. It lets you explore design models in a 3D environment with real time navigation. ArchiCAD markers enable the linking of 2D layouts to the 3D model. Another plus with this app is the ease by which the workflow has been simplified. It also allows for cloud computing, the entire design team can work on a single file from various locations with this app. It runs on iOS and Android devices.
Just as its name suggests, this app gives you plans through magic. A reality app developed by Sensopia, it provides accurate floor measurements and draws floor plans for you. All you need to do is take a picture of a space using your device and the app automatically creates a floor plan with measurements in a variety of options. Either PDF, JPEG or a format that can be imported into any CAD software. You can also add objects and annotations. This magic trick runs on iOS and Android devices.
Most apps are used to bring concepts or ideas to life and visualize them. This app however takes it a notch higher and actually takes your idea through structural tests and checks its structural integrity and strength. It conforms whether or not your structure would actually hold together if put up as it is in your idea or sketches. It is basically a calculator which uses typical span-to-depth ratios for common steel, concrete and wood members to give you a quick overview of what dimensions a certain structural idea will require. This app lets you view any weaknesses in your idea and change it while still being an idea. This pocket structural engineer works on iOS and Android platforms.
Probably one of my favorite right after Paper. This is the tool that sent the tape measure to its grave. What it does is produce floor plans as you walk through a space. All you do is hold your phone to a wall, walk alongside the wall, get to a window, hold your phone next to the window, and move on along the wall. When you get to a corner simply make the corner and continue walking. As you walk and tap your phone on the wall at the various points with openings the app is meanwhile creating the floor plan based on your movement and tapping of the phone on the wall. This revolutionary tool is however only available on iOS devices.
There are a couple of merits that I have experienced from working with these apps:
- You can work from anywhere while on the go. You do not have to be seated at your workstation to review a layout.
- Ideas are visualized immediately they pop up. With these apps you can sketch anything anytime when you get an idea and in the process thousands of great ideas don’t get lost.
- With working with cloud services work gets done faster.
- You no longer have to walk around with a huge tool kit and sketchbook or notebook. You have apps that handle all that right on your phone or tablet.
Try out any of them and send us feedback on your experience.