There are a whopping 500 apps in Apple’s AppStore for architects and contractors. This includes apps categorized as “games,” “lifestyle,” and “entertainment.” While SimCity Deluxe might alleviate stress on the job site, it’s not going to help create layouts or access floorplans.

So, Software Advice has slapped together a list of the best iPhone and iPad apps for the AEC industry. They’ve filtered through ~500 apps and selected 34 of the most useful. They removed irrelevant results, sorted by trade and functionality, and prioritized the list by user ratings and popularity.

The result is their blog post, “The Best Construction Management Apps for the iPhone and iPad.” You can also view a complete list of AEC apps (minus the irrelevant results) in this Google Doc. Here, we highlight six of the apps from their list that are developed for design and architecture.

goBIM – 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. (iTunes)

cadTouch 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. (iTunes)

Finger 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. (iTunes)

REVITKeys – This is a simple reference app for AutoDesk Revit Architecture 2010. It includes 260 keyboard combinations separated into 14 categories – Project, Model Family Editor, Profile Family Editor, Truss Family Editor, among others. It’s handy for Revit users “on the go” or for the beginner trying to get familiar with all the combinations. The app costs $0.99 and works with the iPhone (OS 2.1 and after), iPad and iPod touch. (iTunes)

Google 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). (iTunes)

iRhino 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. (iTunes)

Other cool apps to check out!
iDesign – Precision 2D vector drawing & design. $4.99 (iTunes)
Home3D – Layout a building quickly and take 3D virtual tours. $8.99 (iTunes)
Cartomaps – Makes projects available to query, review and edit from anywhere. $19.99 (iTunes)

Thanks to Houston from SoftwareAdvice for putting all this together and sorting through all the fluff.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.