iPad Apps for AEC: Design and Visualization

Given the increasing number of iPad apps that are now available for the AEC industry, AECbytes will look at these apps in two separate articles, one focused on apps primarily intended for design and visualization, and the second focused on apps that can be used for project management and construction. This article focuses on apps for design and visualization and includes an overview of Graphisoft’s BIMx app for iPad, Autodesk’s new cloud strategy and the Autodesk Design Review app, the iVisit 3D app, and finally, the Inception app from Architactile, a new software developer.

URL: http://www.aecbytes.com/feature/2011/iPadAppsforAEC.html

2 thoughts on “iPad Apps for AEC: Design and Visualization

  1. I am intrigued by Inception from Architactile, but am put off by the price. As as small office, I am not sure that we would get enough benefit from it. I would like to be able to try the software and think a per-project pricing model could work well. For a larger project, I would be willing to pay $25 to capture this one project. I could also then evaluate if the software is worth buying for general use or selectively for other projects on a per project basis.

    Other useful software I have found:

    Brillux App – can estimate Paint color with camera, has color fans, and can show pictures with situations using the selected color.

    USM Haller – sales tool for furniture. Can show selected furniture in a picture taken from a room.

    C+P Möbel – also from a furniture manufacturer. Measures sound volume to acoustically evaluate a room, among other things.

  2. Robert,

    I appreciate your perspective – price has been, and continues to be a challenging issue for us. Something that may not be obvious to many is that Apple puts several constraints on apps sold through the app store. For example, Apple doesn’t allow time-limited trials (which we would LOVE to offer) or per user discounting – both long time staples of the B2B software world.

    We did consider (and continue to think about) a per project price model – this is certainly in line with many consumer facing apps, as well as some familiar products in the AEC space like AIA contracts (which may be licensed per project.) There are several reasons we haven’t pursued per project pricing. One big issue is that industry research confirms what we all already know – when we download free or low cost apps we typically only launch them one or twice and then never use them again. For a product like Inception that’s a killer – not because it’s hard to use (most think it’s very intuitive) but because it takes effort to make the change from the way you handle project initiation and pre-design today (probably a yellow legal pad and a combination of Word and Excel). For example – have you downloaded Autodesk’s AutoCAD WS like the rest of us? I thought so. Now…have you ever actually USED it on a project? That’s what I thought. So then, our pricing strategy is designed partially to attract folks who are really serious about wanting to improve productivity with their iPad – the folks that want to make the commitment. At our price point, we are willing to provide training, take your phone calls, respond individually to support issue, etc. – just like you’d expect and need from any business grade piece of software.

    Another consideration was that we wanted our pricing model to favor our most committed and passionate users. If you think of the cost of the product in terms of cost per project, the more you use Inception, the less expensive it is. Most of our users have gotten into the habit of using Inception on every project – because it’s so fast, easy and informative, that they feel negligent if they don’t, and because it takes less time and, frankly, is more fun then the way they use to do it.

    Something else that may not be obvious is that Inception’s does its best work before a design contract is signed when you and your client are still trying to determine feasibility. If you’re like most firms, you talk to a lot of clients about a lot of projects that never come to fruition. Our clients use Inception for every one of those prospects – not just the projects that make it to design. This is where we think Inception saves the most time and money – so we’ve been hesitant to adopt a pricing model that discourages use for every prospect.

    The last point I’d like to make is that Inception works great for even really small projects. We have several folks using Inception for custom residential, for example. As you know, in smaller projects, the margins are even tighter. For these projects, Inception really excels at eliminating extraneous time hand-holding a client for weeks only to find the project simply isn’t feasible.

    All that said, we get it. We appreciate your interest and understand your skepticism, and would love the opportunity to prove the value to you. If you’re interested, please contact me directly at matt@architactile.com or 918-808-3072 and we’ll figure something out.

    Oh, and thanks for the tip on the other apps. Cool stuff.

    Matt Galloway

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