Autodesk announced that it is bringing AutoCAD back to the Mac, and also adding AutoCAD apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. The ability to work with computer-aided drafting drawings on the go highlights the unique aspects that make the iPad a valuable tool for mobile productivity.
The return of AutoCAD to the Mac platform after being a solely Windows-centric application for nearly twenty years is significant. The Mac has always been viewed as uniquely suited for graphics and design, so the lack of AutoCAD was conspicuous. AutoCAD for Mac underscores the resurgence of the Apple computing platform, but AutoCAD for the iPad represents a shift to embrace mobile productivity.
Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of Autodesk Platform Solutions and Emerging Business explains "the extension of AutoCAD to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is a big step in Autodesk's efforts to accelerate design and make design more accessible for an ever-greater number of people so they can shape the world around them."
Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, declared "The AutoCAD WS app is a bold new idea, a mobile version of industry-leading design software for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, the world's most innovative mobile devices."
The value of the iPad as a tool for business productivity has been debated since before the tablet was even available. Fans of the iPad extoll its virtues as a mobile platform, but PC-purists are quick to point out all of the ways that the iPad is not a "real" PC and the many functions a Windows PC is capable of that the iPad can't deliver.
The AutoCAD WS app will be available for all of the iOS platforms, including the iPhone and iPod Touch, but its strength will be most visible on the iPad. The iPad has strengths, and it has weaknesses. The touchscreen, flat panel form factor is not conducive to developing complex AutoCAD files from scratch, but it is an ideal platform for accessing, viewing and editing them on the go.
The iPad is compact, lightweight, and has impressive battery life capable of making it through the work day. With 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, the iPad can connect to the online AutoCAD workspace from virtually anywhere and select, annotate, and interact with AutoCAD drawings using the familiar multitouch gestures.
The AutoCAD app is a perfect example of capitalizing on the strengths of the iPad as a mobile computing platform without expecting it to fit into a pre-conceived box defined by notebooks and netbooks. As competing tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the rumored HTC tablet come out, expect more innovative apps to take advantage of what the tablet platform is capable of.
AutoCAD 2011 for Mac, and the free AutoCAD WS mobile app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch will be available from Autodesk this fall.