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An Apple a Day – iOS lays the Groundwork for the AEC Industry


Mobile devices have largely been perceived as suitable for data consumption, viewing documentation, communication, or simple data input in the AEC industry. As the processing power of mobile devices closes to that of desktops powerful new capabilities are added. Notably, most new mobile developers appear to be drawn to Apple’s ecosystem. 

When the iPad first debuted in 2010, it was essentially a larger iPhone. What the iPad did brilliantly was, that it carved out a market for itself as a consumption device, ideal for web browsing, email, and social media. It would take years to realize its professional utility. 

After years of evolution, Apple iOS devices have changed beyond recognition. 

With iOS 15 still in its early stages, the significant increase in addressable memory will help software companies add full-feature capabilities to their professional iPad applications, as well as handle large data sets. 

iOS Tools for the AEC Industry 

There are already a number of professional AEC-focused tools available for iOS, with more on the way for iPadOS. 

Historically, the vast majority have been used for viewing and marking up drawings as a consumption device on-site – for example, Autodesk BIM 360, Procore, and PlanGrid. These are dedicated apps with limited tools, as opposed to accessing these SaaS platforms directly via the web, which is simple to do with Safari or Google Chrome iPad apps. 

Cloud and streaming have helped many huge dataset applications overcome memory constraints; Archicad’s BIMx Explorer is a notable example, as it connects to large datasets on Microsoft Azure servers. The coming of 5G, which provides a data rate of 10Gbps (10 to 100x faster than 4G and 4.5G networks), also opens mobile devices as data streaming becomes more popular, although we are still in the early days of its rollout. 

SketchUp for iPad and Spaces join other exceptional iPad applications for AEC professionals such as Arkio’s collaborative massing application, Revizto’s BIM review & analysis tool, and Graebert’s DWG-based 2D drafting tool Ares Commander  

Then there is a plethora of AR iPad apps that either showcase your as-designed BIM model in context on the job site or give you a glimpse into your design from the comfort of your meeting room. Unity Reflect, Gamma AR, ARki, and a slew of others are among them. 

The software distribution ecosystem is undoubtedly shifting, as many developers are turning to browsers as a delivery method for SaaS business models, which iPads excel at, as well as dedicated apps. 

Future of iOS Devices in the AEC Industry 

Reality capture is arguably the most significant functionality for the iPad and iPhone. Apple’s ‘Pro-grade iPhone and iPad now have a structured light sensor. It can put a LiDAR-enabled gadget in the hands of every construction worker or architect, despite its low resolution. 

When combined with advances in photogrammetry (the process of converting photographs and videos into 3D models), anyone will soon be able to create realistic models and send them to each other, documenting as-built conditions on the job site, flagging construction issues, or capturing existing buildings for the redesign. 

Many commercial apps have been developed to take advantage of the iPad and iPhone’s LiDAR sensor for AEC workflows. SiteScape, for example, can scan numerous rooms and merge the point clouds together. Canvas, Matterport, Roomscan LiDAR, OpenSpace 3D Scans, and Zappcha are among the others. 

Read More >> LiDAR Scanning on the Go: SiteScape for iPhone / iPad

Then there’s Bentley Systems ContextCapture Mobile, PIX4DCatch, and Epic Games’ RealityScan, which all use photogrammetry in a similar way. 

Everypoint employs a combination of LiDAR and photogrammetry to produce accurate reality capture models with its range of developer tools. 

Final Thoughts 

The raw power that is now available in a mobile device is truly amazing. When you combine this with portability and a LiDAR sensor, you have something truly magical. While other phones and operating systems, such as Android, are available, the main advantage of the Apple ecosystem is that the phones are a known and predictable entity. 

We’ve had LiDAR in Apple’s mobile devices for two years, but we’re only now realizing the potential revolution it may bring to the AEC industry. For years, we’ve been pleading for low-cost, accurate ways for on-site verification. The phone in your pocket will be the answer. 

Unfortunately for Android, with so many developers and phones using varying optics and setups, quality testing and verifying for each target device is a problem. This is particularly true in the case of photogrammetry. 

Follow INDOVANCE Inc for AEC Industry Updates and Global Construction News. 

INDOVANCE Inc with its exclusive delivery hub in India is a global CAD technology partner serving the needs of the AEC industry since 2003. At INDOVANCE we focus on the unique need of each project or client and believe in addressing the real challenges and guarantee that the process will be well-coordinated, smooth, efficient, and hassle-free. 

We collaborate with our customers around the world to develop bespoke business solutions using our enormous engineering talent pool and state-of-the-art technology. To deliver long-term engineering and business strategies, we align with your culture and processes to create an unbreakable partnership. With over 400 full-time employees and more than 600 customers in the US, Europe, India, and Asia, we are poised for the next level of success. 

For more queries regarding any of the topics mentioned above, feel free to connect with us on our website www.indovance.com or contact us on +1-919-238-4044

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