iPad for Architects

Almost 10 years have passed since our first iPad in Architecture review – fast forward to 2020 and the new iPad Pro 4th generation has arrived.

So here is our latest setup:

1 x Apple iPad Pro 12.9 5th gen 256GB WiFi only
1 x Apple Pencil 2nd gen
1 x PaperLike iPad screen protector
1 x Anker 5-in-1 USB C Adapter with 4K USB C to HDMI
1 x Brydge MAX+ for iPad Pro
1 x Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse

In a nutshell the above setup essentially, sets us free of having to log a laptop around. Please note this assumes, that you have at least a 27inch iMac as your base CAD or BIM station at your disposal. Interestingly, a MacBook Pro (with 32GB RAM) plus 27inch 4k monitor is about the same price as a 27inch iMac plus the above iPad Pro.

There is also the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad which looks good (and is very expensive!), but we do not think adds any value to our setup. Especially, as our main goal is to travel as lightly and be as flexible as possible.

Regarding the iPad’s performance there are plenty of in-depth reviews available, which in detail outline the capabilities of this latest iPad generation. Apart from almost reaching MacBook Pro level processing prowess, the main drawing card for us was the new LIDAR sensor that is part of the camera setup. Although there are no apps available that make use of it just yet, this new sensor promises improved AR based architectural workflows – such as iPad based measure-ups of existing buildings / rooms as well as obstruction detection for 3d model overlays into real environments.

Once these AR apps become available, we will post some more reviews.

Another interesting development is that Apple has introduced support for bluetooth Mice with iOS 13, which makes navigating around so much easier.

So to get you started, below is our take on some of our favourite apps for Architects in no particular order…

linea sketch (syncs with macOS viewer app) > brilliantly simple drafting tools to create diagrams that pop;

tayasui sketches (syncs with macOS app) > upgrade to pro for additional rulers and a symmetry tool;

morpholio trace > the sketch design app geared specifically for architects: grid, stencils, hatches and more;

Archipad > our go to for any onsite defects, simplifying the process drawmatically. It is as easy as uploading your drawings, going to site and marking defects (observations) in plan, taking a photo and making annotations (the app remembers previously used abbreviations) which you can then create a report from on your way home. Done. Archipad also allows for sharing of projects across ArchiPad accounts, which can come in handy if you have more than one iPad in your office.

Sun Seeker > provides detailed feedback to understand solar access on site;

PDF Expert (iOS and macOS) > easy to use markup tools, including arrows that are easily adjusted plus custom stamps… Adobe Acrobat begone;

luna display > unless you dare upgrade to macOS 10.15 for Apple’s sidecar, use the luna display dongle to use your iPad with most old Macs with Thunderbolt 2 as external display;

Omni Graffle (iOS and macOS) > the one and only app for any diagram and flowchart;

Soulver (iOS and macOS) > a calculator app that works the way you think about numbers;

BIMx lab > Graphisoft’s BIMx model viewer available for free, to show or share your 3d ARCHICAD model and Layouts with anyone – perfect for client presentations or site visits. If you have BIMCLOUD licenses there is even a feedback loop for markups;

ARki > an augmented reality app / service that allows you to show your 3d models in AR… early days still, but very promising;

Apple Files app > comes with iOS and let’s you connect to any SMB sharepoint – no AFP support!

Zoom (iOS and macOS) > still the best features for architectural presentations and comms – for additional thoughts on Zoom also see here.

Pixelmator (iOS and macOS) > another strong Adobe Photoshop competitor at a fraction of the cost – basic but effective;

Shapr3d > essentially this is SketchUP for iOS;

GoodNotes > fully featured note taking app;

Nebo > looking for a notes app with handwriting recognition? BINGO.

Agenda (iOS and macOS) > simple and elegant date focused note taking;

Microsoft OneNote > if you are already tied into the Microsoft Universe, e.g. via an MS Office 365 subscription, One Note is a surprisingly feature rich note taking app.

We are sure there are many more apps suited to architect, thus our quest to find the best possible setup for Architects is a never ending journey… stay tuned.

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