Top 10 Apps for Architects

Following our readers poll last year, here’s an updated list of what we think are the best ten for architects. From condensed versions of large scale programmes architects and designers use every day, to blank canvases to scratch ideas down onto, you might just find an app that could improve the way you work.

#10 Photosynth (iOS/Windows)

YouTube Preview Image

If you’ve ever been on a site, or in an interesting location, and are bored of flat panoramas then this app holds the answer. It’s user friendly and, once you’ve stood in one position and circled for a while, it stitches a collection of photos together and gives you a great 360degree panorama.

#9 AutoCAD 360, formerly AutoCAD WS (iOS/Android)

YouTube Preview Image

Get all your CAD plans on a mobile device. It’s simple and easy to use. They do require a ‘Pro’ subscription for some features.

#8 iRhino 3D (iOS)


Using this app you can view any Rhine 3DM file on your mobile device. It’s a great way of showcasing your models.

#7 Autodesk Formit (iOS/Android)

YouTube Preview Image

As a subsidiary of Autodesk Revit, this app allows you to create and alter BIM models on mobile devices.

#6 Morpholio / Morpholio Trace (iOS)

Morpholio Trace

The Morpholio Project is really interesting and offers an insight into where skilled app designers can go with a good idea. Trace is an architect’s best friend and they offer an app that does just that – you can read an ArchDaily review of it here.

#5 Adobe Ideas (iOS)

Vector based sketching

This app gives a few tools to jot down ideas quickly and efficiently. It doesn’t provide as many export options as our #4, but does work well on both iPhone and iPad.

#4 Sketchbook (iOS)

YouTube Preview Image

This app (designed by Autodesk) offers you sketching freedom coupled with useful ways of exporting drawings on different canvas sizes and at different resolutions. It might feel as user friendly as our #1 app choice, but it’s certainly useful.

#3 Graphisoft BIMx (iOS)

YouTube Preview Image

Introducing Hyper-models – Graphisoft’s term for describing BIM on mobile devices – has the potential to make BIM even more popular. As an app that can be used by every member of a project’s design and construction teams, it’s worth checking out.

#2 MagicPlan (iOS/Android)

YouTube Preview Image

MagicPlan is, well, magic. It takes advantage of the devices camera and augmented reality to create floor plans of rooms. All you have to do is stand and point your device and it does the rest of the work. You can then export these drawings as a PDF, JPG, or DXF. It takes a bit of getting used to at first but, once mastered, is quite accurate.

#1 Paper (iOS)

With five tools and a blank canvas, coupled with as many virtual sketchbooks as you want, Paper is one of the most loved mobile sketching apps. Having won Apple’s App of the Year and been given the 2012 Apple Design Award, the app has also been extensively reviewed by The Verge. It’s fast, easy, and responsive.

Cite: Taylor-Foster, James. "Top 10 Apps for Architects" 31 Oct 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • jason

    thoughts on best stylus?

    • Ruben Quesada

      Adonit Jot Pro

    • Oleg

      Samsung galaxy note 10.1 (or 2014 edition). Tablet it a disaster, but it has the best stylus (pressure sensitive, 0.3mm point, which is totally unique, palm rejection) and drawing\note taking process is flawless. Battery life is 8 hours of active drawing.

  • ecoalejo

    what is it the best “pen” to use with drawing apps like sketchbook Pro? i know that some intous are good, but I would like know some experience from people

    • Shiva

      I use a wacom intous 4, smallest size (A5) and I think it works great – a couple of my friends use bamboo and i think they are pretty much satisfied too although it doesnt support certain features that mine does.
      unfortunately however, my pen has a small problem and they do not have support and guaranty in my country.

  • Damien

    You should try. “Concept”. The precision guides blow all other sketching apps out of the water.

    • z

      Concept or Concepts?

      • Ben

        “Concepts: Smarter Sketching” +1

  • omar webekh

    What about app’s on windows phone? What do you advise

  • Lewis MF Glastonbury

    So many apps determined to take the true art form of sketching away from real techniques and real paper. I don’t want to draw in my tablet and lock my creativity away and convert it to megabytes. I would much rather see apps developed to help ‘teach’ architecture.

    • tits

      oh fu@ck off

    • J Mounteer

      Ideas that can’t be shared may as well not exist. It’s not that these apps are meant to take away from traditional sketching, but provide an easier method to quickly and easily transmit them to your project team.

      Working on a job with our NYC office recently, there were many delays due to the designer having to scan-in his tracings that could have been resolved by some of these apps being used.

    • zach

      Paper by Fifty Three allows you to print all your sketches to book form. Many apps also provide print-able options as well. The art comes from the brain and the hand working together. The media used to convey the idea is your choice, but ultimately irrelevant.

  • 123321

    Sketchbook is also available on Android and Windows 8

  • miriam nardelli

    interessed in being Always knowing the architecture News

  • sj

    best stylus: adonit jot touch 4, as of today

  • Zom

    I always thought that using a stylus on Apple devices is a crime! Apple’s God – Steve Jobs hated it! But he’s dead…

  • Zom

    Only “real” architects will use this tools. Technicians, engineers, project managers and all this boring people doing boring stuff in construction process will use PC, paper and pen..

  • Laz

    I really like Redstick. Simple to use, great for design. I understand 3D is ready to be released and export 3D IFC models into Revit and ArchiCAD!

  • Rosita

    utilizzo Paper è davvero utile!

  • محمود

    طب عايز انزل التطبيق العشرة منين وازى ؟ ممكن الاجابة

    • Dlovan

      all available on iTunes and AppStore. :)

  • AntoineB89

    Very handy article! THNX ARCHDAILY!

  • Lucie Kruger

    Having professional 3D program for building architecture on the personal computer or laptop is thing of past, now most of the people use android powered handset and this list is awesome.

  • Paper guy

    Love this one!

  • Andy Smartdrawings

    Chek out for Smart Drawings app! It was updated and lets you to draw precisely with no stylus.!

  • Gretchen Ann Meili

    I use, “tayasui sketches”, and like it quite well.