AutoCAD coming to iPad, iPhone, returning to Mac

Premier design and engineering software back on Mac OS after 18-year absence; iOS version will allow editing and sharing

Autodesk is bringing its AutoCAD architecture, design, and engineering software back to the Mac OS after an 18-year absence, the company announced this evening. But the company plans to do more than offer a Mac OS X version of AutoCAD: It says it will release a free version of the software, dubbed AutoCAD WS, for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that lets users review, edit, and share AutoCAD files on those popular mobile devices.

The company says AutoCAD for Mac OS X is a fully native application, using Mac OS X libraries and native UI features. AutoCAD for Mac takes full advantage of Mac OS X, including graphical browsing of design files with Cover Flow and use of multitouch gestures on Mac notebooks, the Magic Mouse, and the Magic Trackpad for intuitive pan and zoom features, a spokesman said. User-experience design patterns, such as the visual approach to drawing and layout management, have also been incorporated into AutoCAD for Mac.

[ Follow the latest developments on the Mac OS X and iOS platforms with InfoWorld's Technology: Apple newsletter. ]

AutoCAD for Mac boasts an API the company describes as "extensive" and flexible customization options that allow for tailor-built workflows, simple application development and adaption, custom configurations for settings, and screen real estate options to suit individual workflows and project demands.

The new AutoCAD software will ship "this falll," the company says. The Mac OS X edition costs the same as the Windows version: US$3,995 without a support subscription, and $4,445 with one.

Apple, in a rare personal outreach to editors, trumpeted the news of AutoCAD's return today. "Apple is thrilled that Autodesk is bringing AutoCAD back to the Mac," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

When AutoCAD dropped Mac support in 1992, Apple was starting to lose steam and focus under a series of executives -- John Sculley, Michael Spindler, and Gil Amelio -- and the loss of the premier engineering-design software at the time took wind out of Apple's efforts to expand into the business market. So the return of AutoCAD represents a new level of acceptance and a vindication of CEO Steve Jobs' Mac OS X and iOS strategies.

This article, "AutoCAD coming to iPad, iPhone, returning to Mac," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Mac OS X and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com.

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Galen Gruman

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