For many architects, work isn’t just something that happens in the office – it happens on project sites, on the road, and in face-to-face meetings with clients and contractors. But, if productivity dips every time you have to switch to pen and paper, it could ultimately impact how efficient you are.
So, if you’re ready to switch from pen and paper to a mobile device, where should you start? Our research breaks the task down into the basics, the nice-to-haves, and the tech that’s driving new ways of working.
In this article, we’ll share some recommendations on what you need to ensure you’re as productive when out in the field as you are at your desk. And if you’re looking for tips on how to use your mobile devices in meetings, or on-site, take a look at our full white paper on mobile productivity for architects.
Mobile Devices: Basic Considerations for Architects
There was a time when architects on the road needed two mobile devices: a phone to make calls and a tablet that was more specialized – and more powerful – for their work.
Nowadays, the situation is a lot more streamlined. Phones and tablets often run the same operating systems and applications, so the main trade-offs have become screen size and portability – essentially two sides of the same coin.
For maximum portability, it’s hard to beat the phone in your pocket. But for architects who regularly need to annotate plans and share them with clients and contractors, the tablet’s larger screen makes it much more practical.
Whether you choose to work on your phone or a tablet – or even a phablet – they’ll need to meet similar specifications. We recommend the following as a starting point:
- A high-quality camera (2 MP or greater)
- Long battery life (to last the working day on a single charge)
- Enough RAM to power your applications (at least 4 GB)
While price is an important factor for the general consumer, it’s worth bearing in mind that budget options often sacrifice powerful features that are vital for efficient fieldwork. For example, many architects who use a tablet for drawing prefer an iPad over Android or Windows devices, due to Apple devices’ native support for the Apple Pencil stylus.
One final consideration: don’t forget connectivity. You’ll need a mobile data plan that lets you quickly access and download files in cloud storage – but one that balances data caps with your budget.
So, you’ve decided on a phone or a tablet and you’re ready to leave the office now. Well, not quite. Once you’ve chosen your device, there are still a few optional extras that are worth considering. Let’s start with protecting your investment.
Add-Ons to Make Fieldwork Easier and Protect Your Investment
Building sites aren’t the most forgiving environments for sensitive equipment, so a case for your device can help it withstand the inevitable bumps and scratches. Given the cost of tech – and its importance for architecture work – having insurance can also be reassuring if the worst happens.
Other optional extras for architects can ensure they maintain office-like productivity while on the go. Peripherals like a wireless keyboard and mouse help with admin-intensive tasks like typing up client notes or formatting reports.
While any modern touchscreen device can support drawing features, a stylus is faster and more accurate for drafting sketches or drawing up plans. They’re also ideal for handwriting notes and signing digital documents.
Whatever peripherals you choose, they’ll add to your confidence that you can carry out all your office tasks anywhere. But to get the most from your devices, you’ll need the right apps too.
Bringing Mobile Apps into Architecture Workflows
From scanning and measuring to sketching and annotating, there’s a whole world of apps designed for architects. So, it’s worth taking some time to check out the reviews and download a few free trials to see what works best.
If you’re in any doubt about what you’ll achieve by swapping manual processes for more mobile alternatives, it’s worth setting some time aside to see how other architects are finding success with mobile apps. Ask your community about the tools and technologies they use and consult online forums to discover new and more efficient ways of working.
Above all, be patient – it can take time before you’re familiar with all your new equipment and begin to see the benefits.
Now You’ve Got Your Mobile Tech, What’s Next?
We’ve only scratched the surface of how architects can get started with mobile devices. Our white paper offers more depth on the early steps in your mobile journey and also reveals what architects can do to be more productive when they’re away from their desks.
Architects: Leverage Mobile Tech to Save Time
Make the Most of Your Mobile Device
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