Christmas came early to me, and I managed to get my hands on a 128gb space gray iPad Pro. In fact, I somehow managed to get an Apple Pencil, nearly a week before picking up an iPad Pro just by random luck at a Best Buy store while waiting for the interior designer, a.k.a. my wife.
While I'm still trying to make some time to introduce the iPad Pro into my workflow, let alone just get my hands on it to give it a spin, I did want to organize my thoughts on why I think it's important for someone in architecture to consider the product.
Here are three things that really tickled my fancy when the iPad Pro was finally released earlier this month:
1. Apple Pencil and drawing/sketching
One of the things I took away from architecture was carrying a sketchbook. From the very first quarter at Cal Poly, we were encouraged to sketch and sketch often. You can still tell who is an architecture student on campus by spotting their sketchbook, typically a moleskin or similar. I took this habit into the professional field upon graduation and really enjoy looking back at my previous sketches.
2. Digital trace paper, iterations, and options
I go through a lot of trace paper overlaying hand drawings, computer print outs, photographs, etc. While over 50% of my trace work is thrown in the trash and really only used to help me think, there does end up being the occasional piece or pieces that I carry to client meetings, and on file. With the iPad Pro, I've wondered if it's possible to make use of digital technology and sketch over PDF floor plans for example, and having the ease of undo/redo, and saving any iteration at any point. Another reason I look forward to digital sketching is for when I go out to measure existing floor plans and as-built drawings. Though it'll probably look silly, I can totally see myself taking pictures to document existing conditions and sketching right over them with dimensions and notes. Even sketching a floor plan and elevation can be done right on the iPad or in some combination of CAD drawing and marking up in real time.
3. Drafting, 3d modeling, precision
It's always been an architect's fantasy to be able to use CAD on a tablet with the sort of ease, speed, and precision we've gotten used to on a traditional PC/Mac. Though Wacom tablets have been around, I've only really seen ONE  person in an actual architecture office use one on a daily basis for their drafting. He loved it, but I couldn't really get the hang of it. There's actually a bit of irony in my opinion between sketching and drafting. Sketching is often loose, and there's freedom for lines to convey different meanings. Drafting on the other hand, is often (should be?) very precise and rectilinear, a certain line may mean different things depending on lineweight, color, layer, etc. Can the iPad Pro do both well?
I think it's important to say that I think the stylus, Apple Pencil, works well here only because the iPad Pro's screen is so much larger than previous iPads. There's only so much real estate on an iPhone, iPad Mini, or iPad/iPad Air for that matter. Because the iPad Pro is so large, it really asks for another input device other than your fingers, in addition to giving you freedom to write and sketch as needed via Apple Pencil.
I am NOT about trying to see if the iPad Pro will replace my daily workhorse laptop. It can't and won't – that's not why I bought it. But I am curious to see how it will ease its way into my daily work routine. Will it replace my sketchbook? Will I always have it in front of me? Do I keep the screen on consistently or only refer to it when I need to? Will it make me more productive or help my workflow in any way? Of course one of the other bargaining tools I used to convince my wife to allow me to buy this was the fact that I would be using it as a study tool as well, reading PDFs and reviewing architectural drawings.
It'll be an interesting next couple weeks with the iPad, and this while I thought this Thanksgiving break would finally give me some time to play around with it, it was actually my wife that's used it more than I have. I look forward to reprogramming my brain to give it a shot instead of my physical sketchbook and notepad moving forward.