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Ultimate iPad Guide: Utility and Tools Apps for Architects

Utility and Tools Apps for Architects is a broad but useful category, filled with many possibilities. But what are some of the really cool apps to consider? And what should architects not try to live without? Take a look, we think you’ll see some cool stuff.

Utility and Tools Apps for Architects

This is a broad-based category that theoretically could include far more apps than those listed below. Our intention has been to focus on some of the better options and more interesting choices available. We are particularly interested in informational and calculation-based tools for architects, as well as apps that architects could use possibly in the field or in the design studio. Some of the apps are presentation or portfolio-based tools that tie into Web apps or sites.

When it comes to the utility and tools category just about anything could go here, so long as it doesn’t fit more neatly into our previous guides. Here are some of the apps we want to draw your attention to.

We think a professional like an architect–especially in this global economy–may need a solid unit conversion calculator. There is simply no cooler one than Convert Units Free HD. (see image 01 below). A beautiful UI, customization capability and more make this app great. And it’s free!

01 - Convert Units Free HD is one slick conversion app and a great thing to have in your arsenal.

02 - Soulver for iPad is a unique calculation application that mixes computation with a paper-solving equation process.

03 - Apple's Keynote app is a star app in the Mac and iOS ecosystem.

We also think an architect needs a really good general calculator on their iPad. inchCALC+ is the best feet-and-inch calculator for US and other imperial-units based pros. There is an iPhone version as well. For those who are doing engineering, energy or complex calculations work PCalc is likely the very best, and it does RPN too. But we think the really interesting app in this genre is Soulver for iPad (see image 02 above). The reality is you likely will want a few of these calculators, in addition to the one built into the iOS itself.

Finally, architects need to make presentations on a regular basis. More and more are doing them on screen using tools like PowerPoint. But Mac users have had a better version of PowerPoint for years in Steve Jobs’ personally made app Keynote. The iOS version is feature-packed and works with the cloud. Now you can carry your iPad to conferences, client offices and other locations and put on beautifully crafted project presentations or talks. (see image 03).

The List (16 Apps)

Here is our list of top utilities and tools apps for architects which don’t quite fit the other categories (or the ones following this guide) and have a possibly big benefit to an architect’s daily practice life. Again, if we have somehow missed a great app that should be in this category, please email us. Without further ado:

  • Architizer — this app works with the online site by the same name. However it is primarily a viewer app and does not allow you to upload and work with your Architizer online account. (63 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) Free
  • Convert Units Free HD — this app is the iPad big sister to the widely praised iPhone app version. Voted the number 1 conversion app in the market, this app is also free and enables you to do things like live currency conversion, custom conversion setup, choose from new interface options, customize the UI by turning off the conversion categories you don’t use, etc. Has a sexy interface, IMHO. (2,560 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) Free
  • CheatSheet Viewer — this app stores cheatsheets and stores them beautifully on your iPad. For the tech geek in your and for all you true geeks this app could be very useful. (10 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 1.99.USD
  • Digits — this app is another highly regarded calculator that makes great use of the iPad screen. Digits is for humans who make mistakes. It lets you work on numbers on a familiar and elegant UI but with the ease-of-use and editing ability of a spreadsheet. It also supports wireless printing via AirPrint. (2,789 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 0.99.USD
  • Foundation — this app is part of a series of structural engineering apps by Nasser Alwehaidah, an award-winning SE developer. Use this app to design concrete footings. (1 review, not rated) 14.99.USD
  • iA Writer — this app is basically a writer’s tool. And a very good one! Cast and rendered like a beautiful experience on a classic typewriter, Stephen Fry wrote of this app, “Everything goes away except for the writing experience.” Fast Company wrote, “Writer has out-innovated Apple.” And the Guardian wrote called it “beautiful and simple.” Dropbox and iCloud sync, sync with Mac and more, iA Writer is all about the beauty of writing and is ideal for the architect who needs to write for college classes she teaches, books to be published or just that novel under development and wants to be able to do this anywhere. (1,499 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 0.99.USD
  • inchCALC+ — this app was one of the very first and best feet and inches calculators on iOS. Very handy to have on both your iPad and iPhone if you have one, inchCALC+ is a comprehensive architect’s calculator useful to builders as well. It’s built-in conversions trig functions useful to the purposes of building are very solid. (76 reviews, not rated) 4.99.USD
  • iBeams — this app is for structural beam design useful to structural engineers and architects doing structural work. Allows for a visual diagrammatic model with corresponding reaction, shear, moment and deflection diagrams. Useful for quick checks against results from more complicated desktop engineering programs, useful for quick work in the field and for exploring structures for undergraduate students. Also, this is the iOS companion for iBeams Pro for Mac OS X. (6 reviews, 3 1/2 stars)
  • Keynote — Apple’s Keynote app enables you to take your Keynote and Powerpoint presentations with you on your iPad or iPhone and use either device for presentations through to a the big screen compliments of various cabling setups. No more lugging a laptop around simply to give talks. But Keynote for iOS is more than just for viewing, it is a fully functional Keynote presentation authoring environment. And with iCloud all your presentations are stored in the cloud and available to all your devices. (1,634 reviews and 3 1/2 stars) 9.99.USD
  • LiveView — this app lets you take a little piece of your Mac with you remotely across the room on your iPad’s screen. This is a remote screen-viewing application that puts your Mac on your iPad. If by chance you want to go the other way around–and for many reasons you actually may want to–then be sure to check out Reflector, which uses Apple’s AirPlay technology to trick your iOS device into thinking your Mac or PC is an AppleTV.  (97 reviews, 3 stars) Free
  • Morpholio — this app works with a web-application of the same name that makes it easy for architects to present, share and get feedback on their work on a seamless platform. Referred as a portfolio utility, it goes beyond other sites that offer similar portfolio presentation opportunities such as and Architzer. (35 reviews, 4 stars) Free
  • PCalc — this is a very highly rated, full-featured scientific and engineering calculator with full RPN option. It also has many user interface options and comes with a complete paper tape screen, RPN stack, scientific notation support, hex, octal and binary calculations. There has been a Mac version for many years. (264 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 9.99.USD
  • RC Beam — this app is for the iPhone but will run on the iPad just fine. Part of the same series by Nasser Alwehaidah, this app is focused on designing reinforced concrete beams. (7 reviews, not rated) 4.99.USD
  • RC Design HD — this app is for designing reinforced concrete slabs, beams, columns, etc. From the same series featuring Foundation. (4 reviews, not rated) 9.99.USD
  • Soulver for iPad — this app is a truly special calculator. You are able to write out your calculations line by line like on paper and the app figures out results one line at a time until it gives you the final result. One of the strengths of this calculator is in percentages. It supports over a dozen ways of working with percentages. (53 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 4.99.USD
  • STEEL HD — this app is the best mobile structural steel reference for the iPad. A comprehensive structural steel reference app that combines US, UK, Canadian and more steel shape reference libraries. (7 reviews, not rated) 4.99.USD
  • Viewbook Portfolio — this app for iPad works exclusively with your online account for managing an integrated mobile portfolio using your iPad. From the desktop you can control your Viewbook gallery using Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture. Images are automatically scaled to the right size and immediately available for downloading and syncing to the iPad app. (15 reviews, not rated) Free

The Gem in the  Group

While there are some interesting apps in this group–and even a mention of a really super Mac and PC app in our mention of Reflection which puts your iOS device on your desktop–the gem app in this group falls to Morpholio. Made by the same folks behind Morpholio Trace, this app works on your iPad and dovetails with your Morpholio Project space on the web-based app for architects.

04 - Morpholio is a special kind of app that dovetails with a web-application platform truly developed for architects by architects.

Morpholio was created by architects and is a feedback and presentation platform on the Web. With it architects can create portfolio spaces, share and gain feedback on their works all online. The user interface is quite beautiful as well.

next page: Apps for the Control of Building Systems (2 Apr published)

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