The Best AEC Apps for the iPhone and iPad

There are nearly 500 apps in the App Store tagged as “construction” or “architecture.” This is great news for professionals in the AEC industry, except it’s really tough to filter out the junk. Among the list are apps categorized as “games,” “lifestyle” and “entertainment.”  Specifically, you’ll find titles like “SimCity Deluxe” and “Railroad Puzzle.” Sure, there is a time and place for every app, but these don’t belong on the job site.

So, Software Advice has created a list of the best architecture, engineering and construction project management software apps available for the iPhone and iPad. We removed the irrelevant apps (e.g. “iShovel” and “Men at Work – Ultimate Sound Box”), sorted the leftovers by trade and functionality, then prioritized them by rating and popularity. The result is our blog post titled, “The Best Construction Management Apps for the iPhone and iPad.”

To see our complete list of construction apps (minus the junk), visit this Google Doc. We tagged each app with one or two category names, then added columns for price, rating, device compatibility and minimum iPhone OS requirements. Meanwhile, here is a list of apps developed for CAD and BIM:

Building Information Models (BIM)

goBIMgoBIM – This app allows you to view BIM models from your iPhone (OS 3.1.3 or later), iPad or iPod Touch. It works by using a goBIM exporter with your BIM application to create a .gbm file. Then you load the file onto a web server and access them later from your phone, wherever and whenever you want them. The app costs $5.99 and has an average rating of 3.

CAD, Design and Drawing

cadTouch R2cadTouch R2 – This app has been rated 144 times and has an average rating of 2.5 stars. It’s available for the iPhone (OS 3.0 or later), iPod Touch or iPad. It allows users to draw floorplans, land surfaces (and calculate area and perimeter), facades, mechanical or structural parts (and calculate moments of inertia), diagrams, field notes, and more. Users can then send drawings instantly via e-mail or FTP.
Finger CADFinger CAD – FingerCAD has received 64 ratings with an average rating of 2.5 stars. It costs $5.99 and is available only for the iPhone (OS 4.0) and iPad touch. This app allows you to draw houses, bridges, plans of apartments, mechanical components, geometrical figures and more using your finger. Final designs can be saved and delivered using email. This could be used by engineers, architects, surveyors and students.
REVITKeysREVITKeys – This is a simple reference app for AutoDesk Revit Architecture 2010. It includes 260 keyboard combinations separated into 14 categories. It’s handy for Revit users “on the go.” The app costs $0.99 and works with the iPhone (OS 2.1 and after), iPad and iPod touch.
Google SketchUp CookbookGoogle SketchUp Cookbook – A great app for intermediate and advanced SketchUp users. It provides step-by-step tutorials with detailed color graphics to help users solve design problems. It should be used by users looking to take their SketchUp design skills beyond the basics. The app is $4.99, it has a good rating (3 out of 5 stars) and it’s available on all devices (iPhone OS 2.0 and after).
iRhino 3DiRhino 3D – This is a great app from Robert McNeel and Associates. It has a rating of 3.5 from 43 users. It allows you to view native Rhino 3DM files on your iPhone (OS 3.0 or later), iPad or iPod touch. Users can pan, zoom and rotate using typical iPhone commands. 3D models can be loaded from websites, Google Docs, email attachments (iPad only) or from iTunes (iPad only). The app costs $3.99

Popularity: 46% [?]

About the Author

Houston is the Director of Marketing at Software Advice, a free online resource that reviews software for architects, engineers and contractors. He spends most of his day writing for the company blog and getting the word out about Software Advice's resources. He enjoys researching and reporting trends in software and technology, and has a particular interest in developments in "green" technology.