Recently Trimble has announced it has launched SketchUp for the iPad, a new application that combines the power of 3D modeling with the ease of sketching by hand. The app utilizes the Apple Pencil so users can intuitively sketch in 3D.
SketchUp for iPad
SketchUp for iPad is built specifically for Apple’s iPadOS platform and leverages that operating environment’s strengths. But it also puts to work innovations from Trimble’s software engineers adding features to the solution that users will gain significant impact from. Here are some examples:
- Autodesk — this is a new machine learning (ML) feature that instantly transforms doodles into 3D shapes and configurable SketchUp components.
- Markup Mode — this allows users to capture client feedback in real-time by digitally overlaying annotations and illustrations on top of 3D modeling using Apple Pencil.
- Satellite Imagery Import — connect the physical and the digital worlds vis-a-vis terrain data of existing site locations, applying photo textures using an iPad camera, and visualizing 3D creations in the real world using AR (augmented reality).
These three feature areas fall against the most important technological backdrop in SketchUp for iPad—the ability to sketch in 3D. The application is released now after a successful beta program.
Omar Calderon Santiago, design principal at Perkins Eastman, a global architecture firm said:
It’s been liberating. I enjoy the mobile aspect of SketchUp for iPad because I can take my design work anywhere. The last couple of years has brought a new perspective to the way we work and has fast-tracked our ability to work outside of the office. Today, our work needs to be easily transportable and with SketchUp for iPad, it is.
“The way we work has changed and SketchUp for iPad was designed to go wherever work takes our users with a uniquely intuitive 3D experience to help capture and bring creative inspiration to life—whether on the job site, in a coffee shop or meeting with clients in an office,” said Christopher Cronin, vice president, and general manager of Trimble SketchUp. “We’re excited to make 3D even more accessible to designers who’ve always dreamed of working in 3D. We want to help dissolve barriers between the physical and digital worlds by offering immersive and collaborative 3D experiences that can be shared by all stakeholders, from concept through construction.”
Integration: Trimble Connect
SketchUp for iPad offers a robust, native integration with the Trimble Connect® collaboration platform. SketchUp models that are stored in Trimble Connect automatically sync across devices so project stakeholders can move seamlessly between SketchUp for iPad, SketchUp for Web, and SketchUp Desktop applications.
Architosh Analysis & Commentary
The ability to actually model on the iPad using your fingers or the Apple Pencil has been long coming. This capability has already existed with a different app coming out of Hungary called Shapr3D, which we have written about extensively on Architosh. (see: Architosh, “INSIDER: Shapr3D is Bold on Apple and CAD Dominance,” 23 July 2021). Interestingly, Shapr3D does not focus on the AEC market, though they do have AEC users. So this capability with a focus on AEC is exciting news!
SketchUp for iPad appears to be positioned for not just all SketchUp users but in particular its AEC user-base, which is very large. Its markup tools will be invaluable in client meetings wherein an architect could be showing a 3D model of a building design to a client. Architects today (including this author) present models to clients on their laptops when they are at their client locations and to clients using desktops in conference rooms when they are at their firm offices. In both cases, quick markups using handwritten notes aren’t possible. But now they are and this makes SketchUp for iPad a compelling option for all designers who tend to present their models outside of their firm locations.
With remote work paradigms being so much more dominant since COVID-19, this new application is going to serve the AEC market particularly well. We haven’t tested it ourselves (we will at some point this year) but this is what we know has been missing in the SketchUp workflow and now it is here.
As for its modeling features via the Apple Pencil? We don’t expect Trimble’s first version of this tool to match the UX (user experience) of a more mature product like Shapr3D. What we want to see, however, is that a user can truly create once they devote themselves to this new paradigm. To model with a pencil is clearly a shift from modeling with a mouse, so users of this new offering should devote the time to master the paradigm shift before passing judgment on the app.