Top 10 Technical Apps for Architects

Arrette Scale: perspective. Image Courtesy of Arrette Scale

Building upon our Top 10 Apps for Architects, this collection brings together some of the best quality and most valued technical apps for designing, sketching, calculating and collaborating. Although the majority of those featured here are designed solely for the iOS platform, every time we collate lists such as these it’s clear that more and more high quality apps for the Android and Windows platforms are being developed. From condensed versions of large scale software packages that 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.

Have we missed something out that you use on a daily basis? Leave a comment and let us know!

#10 PadCAD

PadCAD (Android). Image Courtesy of PadCAD

Designed for small drafting projects such as home additions, small remodeling projects and site surveys, PadCAD produces “clean, clear drawings” from scratch, with the ability to then export them into a professional desktop CAD application (using standard file formats like DWG). Allowing for precise (if not basic) CAD drafting on the go, the developers believe that it is “ideal for general contractors, small architectural firms, and appraisers.”

Price: Free [PadCad Lite] or $14.99 [PadCad] / iOS  |  Free [with in-app purchases] / Android

#9 AutoDesk FormIt

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This app, designed as part of the AutoDesk Revit software package, allows you to use real-world site information to help create forms in context and support early design decisions with real building data. Designed to create a continuous Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflow with Revit (by synchronising designs in the cloud), this app is both stable and technically refined.

Price: Free / iOS and Android

#8 SketchUp Mobile Viewer

SketchUp Mobile Viewer. Image Courtesy of SketchUp

With the announcement earlier this year that the next generation of Trimble’s SketchUp would incorporate Building Information Modelling (BIM) capabilities for the first time, SketchUp Mobile Viewer - launched in April of this year – allows for “on the go” access to SKP files. In addition, users have full access to browse and download every file on their 3D Warehouse.

Price: $9.99 / iOS (iPad). Android version in the works. Read more about this app on ArchDaily.

#7 iRhino 3D / Droid Rhino

iRhino 3D (iOS). Image Courtesy of iRhino 3D

Although these two apps are created by different developers (both official Rhino partners), they both serve to view models created in Rhino3D on the go. Both feature the abilities to pan, zoom and orbit around complex 3D models before sampling and sharing them.

Price: $3.99 / iOS  |  $2.99 / Android

#6 AutoCAD 360 (formerly AutoCAD WS)

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The iOS version of the official AutoCAD app has recently benefitted from a fresh user interface, building upon the considerable abilities of the previous version. This app allows you to view and edit 2D or 3D drawings and, with an AutoCAD 360 subscription (which can be costly), allows files to work seamlessly between a whole range of devices and platforms.

Price: Free [with in-app purchase $4.99 for Pro] / iOS  |  Free [with in-app purchase $4.99 for Pro] Android

#5 Concept Idea Calculator

Concept Idea Calculator. Image Courtesy of Fast & Epp

Getting instantaneous, accurate structural dimensions in the early stages of the design process, or even when exploring the feasibility of a project, can often be challenging. Concept, a pocket calculator which uses typical span-to-depth ratios for common steel, concrete and wood members, gives you a quick overview of what dimensions a certain structural idea will require. The app also includes project photos to give users an idea of how certain materials will be expressed in built form.

Price: Free / iOS (). Android version in the works. Read our recent review in full here.

#4 Sun Seeker

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With a flat view compass and taking advantage of augmented reality showing the solar path, it’s hourly intervals, the winter and summer solstice paths, sunrise and sunset times (and a lot more), this app is more than capable of assisting architects and in making important site and design decisions at every stage of a project.

Price: $6.99 / iOS (iPhone/iPad).

#3 Morpholio Trace

This app allows users to instantly draw on top of imported images or background templates, layering comments or ideas to generate immediate, intelligent sketches that are easy to circulate. Part of a wider app development project, Trace consistently ranks as one of the most loved free sketching apps available.

Price: Free [with a range of in-app purchases priced at $0.99) / iOS. Read our review in full here.

#2 Archisketch (formerly Archipad)

This app seeks to streamline the experience of digital drawing and sketching with a smooth, cleanly designed app for  that not only allows you to import drawings and doodle over them, but also draw to scale. A recent update brought great new levels of functionality, though they’re still working to increase accuracy and improve features.

Price: Free [in-app purchase for full version: $9.99] / iOS (iPad). Read our recent review in full here.

#1 Arrette Scale / Arrette Sketch

Arrette Scale: Palladio’s Villa Rotunda. Image Courtesy of Arrette Scale

Allowing users to digitally review work by sharing ideas and drawings, Arrette Scale and Sketch welcomes incremental design changes drawn to scale without the need for printing reams of paper. Features like layering and being able to import base images from native iOS applications (such as Maps and Photos) brings a level of functionality not seen in other apps of Arrette’s class.

Price: Free or $5.99 / iOS. Read our recent review in full here.

You can read our previous round-up of the Top 10 Apps for Architects here.

Have we missed something out from this list that you use on a daily basis? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Cite: Taylor-Foster, James. "Top 10 Technical Apps for Architects" 09 Jul 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Zsalti Renyi

    Where did you leave BIMx Docs? A sophisticated and very love-able BIM presentation tool…

  • Wolfram

    what about us poor sods that don’t use iOS devices (like the most of the world)?

  • Michael Pasquarella

    It is a little disturbing that none of these apps are compatible with Android Technology… Smartphones or Tablets.
    Please repost apps for architects and designers for Android devices.

  • mdad

    magic plan is awesome! look it up, it has to be in the top 5.

  • Kimozi

    You missed in your list to include Graphisoft’s BIMx app.

  • Harriet

    There’s also Urbasee Project (Augmented reality on plan) and Urbasee Future (Augmented reality on site) which are quite good to visualize project on masterplan and project on site with the GPS coordinates. Both are available on IOS and Android.

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    Maybe BIMx Docs is far ahead this category :)

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