MagicPlan Review

MagicPlan Review
04/20/2012 Daniel

We have been testing a new iPhone and iPad app called MagicPlan which aims to dramatically simplify the measuring up process and to some extent even the creation of basic plans.

Basically, to use the app all you do is stand in the middle of a room and point your iPhone or iPad at each corner – an instructional video is included in the app to get you started. The capturing process works amazingly well and the interface (a coordinate cross photo overlay) is well thought through to allow capturing of hidden corners by simply realigning your device to the corresponding ceiling corner and moving it down from there.

Once a room is completely entered you need to confirm the shape and if wrong the app offers to automatically correct it, we found this always worked however we tested it in a modernist building which has only right angles. In our testing the capturing process was much easier, once we ensured that all doors to room are closed and corners were not obstructed by any small furniture. Subsequently you are presented with a preview of your plan where you can easily adjust any opening dimensions and insert additional openings, furniture, etc.

After the first room we got prompted to calibrate all dimensions which the app obviously only estimates – we found this to be a bit tedious, as it seems to require you to manually measure one entire room including all nooks and crannies, as opposed to say just one overall dimension in either direction.

We also noted that any subsequent adjustments to dimensions are not easily done, as instead of editing the dimensions (which you can do for openings) you need to move entire walls around.

Once you have captured at least two plans you can then assemble them together very easily, as wall corners snap to each other and even door duplicates get resolved properly… very nice!

To proceed beyond three rooms the app requires you to sign up for an account, which you can do from within the app and confirm via email before it gets activated. An account is free and allows you to have the service send a JPG of your overall assembly and a PDF which also includes each individual room – note both are extensively (yes extensively) watermarked. To get access to a usable i.e. not watermarked JPG, PDF or DWG you need to ‘activate’ them, for which a link is provided.

Which brings is to the not so nice aspect of MagicPlan, which is the arguably obscure pricing – yes even though the app is free, and there is no indication that the service costs anything it in deed does… it would be very nice if this was made clear on the iTunes page, Sensopias website and directly in the app itself.

Basically you can pay ‘on demand’ per plan (AUD 2.49), in batches of 10 (AUD 20), 20 (AUD 35) & 40 (AUD 60) or as monthly subscriptions, e.g. AUD 20 for unlimited plans – payment is via paypal and delivery via email link.

Unfortunately, the provided PDFs are not to scale – however, they include the overall assembly which shows all rooms’ areas and additionally all individual spaces which include all dimensions. The provided DWG, is organised into five layers (door_layer, furniture_layer, wall_layer, window_layer and text_layer) and elements are coloured via layers. Unfortunately, the walls are reduced to their centrelines, i.e. they are either individual lines or polylines, i.e. they have no thickness and all placed ‘furniture’ is offset (we assume the app uses a wall thickness of 150 mm for its PDFs).

It would be much more helpful if the individual rooms had at least a continuous outline, which would facilitate any subsequent manipulation, e.g. addition of walls.

Overall, this succeeds in simplifying the measuring process and creation of basic plans and is probably aimed at the real estate market. Please note the app can currently not handle more complex layouts, e.g. it can not do curved walls, but given this is only the first version we hope to see a few improvements in the next version.

We are currently also in the process of reviewing Orthograph’s Architect for iPad which seems to be more sophisticated – watch this space.