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Updated: Smartphone and tablet apps recommended by planners for planners

by on July 26, 2012

Update March 2015: I thought I’d revisit this popular post from 2012 and 2013. I’m sure there are new apps out there to help planning and building professionals do their job. We’ve added the recent Pocket Guide to Planning. Please let me know if there are any you think should be added.

Here’s a list of some of the smartphone and tablet apps you recommended for fellow planning (and building control) colleagues.

Feel free to send me any more suggestions as a comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

Thanks to all who provided these suggestions. The table below now includes additional apps mentioned in the comments.

App name
Apple
Android
AutoCAD WS (free): Work with AutoCAD drawings on your phone or tablet
Y
Y
Autodesk SketchBook Pro: Digital sketchBook app
Y
Y
Pocket Guide to Planning: A useful app that lets you access the NPPF and national guidance website as well as offering tips on the application of national planning policy.
Y
Y
Pages: Word processing app
Y
N
Numbers: Spreadsheet app
Y
N
Bamboo Paper (free): Handwriting app
Y
N
7note (free on ipad): Writing tool
Y
Y
Evernote (free): Note taking/syncing app
Y
Y
Formmobi (free): Clipboard app
Y
Y
Camera+: Photography app
Y
Y
D-Photo Measures: Draw measurements or dimensions on photos
N
Y
Smart Tools: Measure length, angle, distance, height, direction and sound
N
Y
Skitch (free): Drawing and annotation app
Y
Y
Google Latitiude (free): Location finder
Y
Y
Built in App
Use Class Order Guide (free): Find the relevant planning use class for any property
Y
N
Celotex U-value Calculator (free): Specify your desired U-value and calculate the required insulation thickness and product
Y
N
Autodesk Design Review (free): View and redline design files while in the field or out of the office
Y
N
Dropbox (free): Save and access files anywhere
Y
Y
CloudOn (free): Use Microsoft Office on your tablet
Y
Y
iGeology (free): Interactive geological mapping of the UK
Y
Y
iZip: Open zip files on your iPad or iPhone
Y
N
AndroZip File Manager: Open zip files on your Android device
N
Y
44 Comments
  1. From an LPA’s point of view, we really could do the the Adobe reader for iOS, and other mobile iOS no doubt, to have the measuring tool enabled as all Planning Portal applications have this feature enabled. Quite a few LPA’s are also enable this tool via Live Cycle. Is there any way the Planning Portal can raise this as an issue with Adobe so that it is put on their development list?

  2. C. Davison permalink

    who owns the Planning Portal?

    • PortalDirector permalink

      The U.K Government, so essentially you and I.

  3. A Sunley permalink

    Indigo’s planning’s use class app for the iPhone is very useful

    • What is Indigo’s planning’s use class app called so I can find it in the search?

  4. Dont forget Celotex U value calc app.

  5. Alan permalink

    Windows Phone Apps or is this a closed shop?

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Absolutely no closed shop here. If it’s good share the info please.

      • David Jones permalink

        Windows Phone is a significant minority userbase now. The article should be rewritten to include a Windows Phone column since some of the ones mentioned are on that platform. It shouldn’t be up to users to mention them in the comments section where they’ll disappear…

      • aherbert permalink

        Hi David, we can add some Windows Phone apps as long as we have some suggestions. This post was about asking the readership which apps they use in their professional lives as planners.

  6. DanR permalink

    AutoDesk Design Review, Dropbox, CloudOn are a few others I’d Recommend

  7. Tom permalink

    The BGS do a good app, which I wish some consultees (EA etc) would take some inspiration from.
    App is called iGeology

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Thanks for this and all suggestions and contributions. We’re in the process of updating the table.

      Just a reminder: this isn’t limited to iOS and Android apps. If you have suggestions for smartphone/tablet apps for other platforms please let me know.

  8. Tapose for the iPad is quite good as well, you can split the screen in two… one side a web browser (you can load PDFs here) and the other side for note taking. You can screen grab from one side to the other.. a bit buggy but it’s getting much better

  9. I’ve searched for Bamboo Paper, but it doesn’t seem to be available for me (perhaps only on iPad, not on iPhone?). Any other decent hand-writing notepads available as alternatives for the iPhone?

  10. You forgot SketchUp…

  11. VNC is one of the best apps I have installed on the ipad. A VNC sever runs on the office PC or MAC workstation. The ipad can then view the screen of the PC or MAC and control it via 3G or WiFI. So MAC OSX or Windows Software running on your ipad. Also means you can view and open all files stored on your system. Talk to your IT guys and gals to make sure you cover all the secruity points. You dont want to make a gateway for people to get into your work systems.

  12. My fav at the moment…Sun Surveyor (‘lite’ is the free version). Shows you the sun path accurate to your position and how buildings may obstruct.

  13. for surveyors, here is a network app that allows you to communicate with other surveyors in the field from any device http://landsurveyorsunited.com/m

  14. what about apps for Blackberry smart phones?

  15. And here’s another one for you the Android app from Bosch http://bit.ly/WND3xo .

    It will let you mark up photos, has a converter and torch function. But the interesting “coming soon” feature is the Bosch building documentation – “Document projects digitally on the jobsite, incorporate media (text, photo, audio, video), work easily on the same project with colleagues in team mode, export daily reports and complete documentations as a PDF or text.”

  16. Hi

    Is there anyway to see interactive house on this web site on my ipad, I tried all the adobe readers etc but I still get blank page.

    Thanks

    • Hi Mehmet,
      I’m afraid we are not able to fund a non-Flash version of the Interactive House at the moment.
      This is as dissapointing for us at it is for our customers.
      Bear with us though ,we will persevere

  17. The Birminghan initiative is great but until the Government change the law us, poor town and parish councils are caught be a law passed in 1972 that requires us to send all papers to councillors sitting on a committee and for full council meetings by post to their home address. We have made representations, which included costings, to Government to change the law to provide us the opportunity to use electronic mail and tablets but so far no change. Odd because we could recover our costs within a year – the tablets we would need would be less sophisticated and therefore less expensive than at Birmingham. At a time when the Secretary of State is telling us to cut costs he won’t help us! If anyone out there can assist in persuading the Government your help would be gratefully appreciated.

  18. Lisa Walton permalink

    Do you know if any of the large planning database companies who make the bespoke systems for councils. E.g. Mvm or uniform. Are working on a tablet/app version for planning officers who increasingly use mobile technology. To create an e-planning application file to record site notes, photographs and view plans etc? This must now be in demand from many paper-less local authorities.

  19. Steve Edgeller permalink

    Any chance we could add date stamps to people’s posts on the blog?
    It’d help to see how old someone’s comment is when following old links.

  20. The Planning Officers Society has launched an excellent mobile version of its website, with added features aimed at residents and local councillors in need of general planning information

    • It’s a great site and nice to see much of the new content for citizens is sourced from or links to the Portal!

  21. New mobile version of the POS website has been launched

  22. James Pulfrey permalink

    SketchUp viewer for the Ipad is awesome. You can view your 3d model, orbit round it and zoom in and out. Really helps you to explain the design

  23. Can someone tell me where i can download the Pocket Guide to planning app.

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Hi Steve. If you click on the ‘more info’ link in the relevant column (Apple/Android) in the table it should take you straight to either the Apple AppStore or Google Play. Sarah

  24. David Jones permalink

    Autocad WS is now Autocad 360

  25. David Jones permalink

    Seems curious to be listing out Pages and Numbers which are Apple specific programs without listing out Android equivalents.

    • aherbert permalink

      Happy to amend David, what are the Android equivalents?

      • David Jones permalink

        I don’t know but Windows Phone runs Microsoft Office

  26. David Jones permalink

    Windows Phone runs Evernote as well as Microsoft’s own OneNote

  27. David Jones permalink

    Windows Phone has full OneDrive integration

  28. David Jones permalink

    Windows Phone runs Dropbox

    • aherbert permalink

      Thanks David, we’ll amend the table shortly. Very grateful for the suggestions.

    • aherbert permalink

      I have to say I am really impressed with the iOS versions of MS Office and the ability to save/access documents from Dropbox is extremely useful. I think they’ve done a a good job there.

      Thanks again, David.

      Aled Herbert
      Planning Portal

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