Sketchup for iPad version

I am keeping a close eye on the development of this new product.

I have been boring people ever since I started using CAD in about 1990 about the need for the industry to move towards a screen that acts like a drawing board. That is, something that you can draw on directly without the use of an intermediary like a mouse. Apart from the physical size of an iPad compared to a drawing board, SU for iPad seems at last to have closed the circle. My only surprise is that, in such a fast moving industry, it has taken a generation to get there.

My impression from reading recent posts is that this version of SU is not as fully fledged as the PC version (no extensions for example). Hopefully, that will change if take up is big enough. But I wonder how Trimble will know how big take up is if the version is shipped as part of SU22. I just hope it doesn’t get treated as a bit of a gimmick.

The iPad Pro 12.9" is about the size of an A4 sheet pf paper and, obviously, zooming allows you to work on a drawing that will be physically much bigger than the screen. A portable screen has to be a manageable size. But the image of the iPad that Apple currently uses suggests it could be used in a desktop setting, allowing future incarnations to get bigger still.

@JustinTSE has produced a good little video showing what you can do with SU for iPad (SU4iP?): SketchUp for Ipad IS HERE! But is it any good?.... - YouTube

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I agree that going the route of an iPad is overdue. However, it points out some the the missing basic features that you need plugins to achieve. As an example (no offense to the plugin developers for addressing the missing features) something like the abilities of SubD should be part of the base product. Again, no offense to TomTom or other plugin developers, some of these facilities should be basic features. IMHO

I expect every user can think of extensions they find invaluable which they would also feel should be built in but maybe everyone would have their own suggestions! I would certainly think of Solid Inspector, for example. Conversely, I don’t use SubD.

My understanding is that SU was intended to be a relatively basic package that allowed others to add extensions to so that individuals could tailor their software to their own personal circumstances. That has some drawbacks but it is a system that works well in the main.

There is also the issue that some extensions are paid for. They are more likely to be well designed and stable if there is money to be made from a successful product. What is amazing to me is that so many developers are prepared to offer extensions for free.

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Agree about the free.

My comment about SubD was more aimed at the need to be able to drawn more basic shapes with rounded edges and things like. When you look at a tool like Blender it includes more complete shape tools as part of the basic tool. Again, I am not picking on any plugin developer. I am just pointing out that a tool that does not provide the ability to add on plugins needs to be a little more complete in its drawing capabilities IMHO. Then agin it is somewhat dependent on what market you are targeting,

I see what you mean. I would guess that functionality will increase with further updates so that the iPad version approaches the desktop version. That is, providing Trimble see the move to iPad as a potential money spinner.

The money spin comes from subscription and it’s value for users. SketchUp for iPad has a lot of value for me. What I love about it is that it is able to do enough things in common with the desktop but it’s geared to completely different scopes.

They complement each other nicely but one can’t replace the other.

At this point I don’t aim at having iPad doing what I do in desktop as that is the right environment for doing that, and I love doing what I do in SketchUp for iPad, that is impossible to do in desktop.

They are both part of the workflow and it’s incredible how iPad’s version has opened so many possibilities that I was seeking for so long and couldn’t find a way to accomplish.

Very cool little app and such potential to grow


I cannot currently try SU for iPad so I am curious about what things you can with it you cannot do with the desktop version. Hopefully in the not to distant future I will be able to try it.

Mostly carrying around the models, presenting them and giving them to the people next to you in meetings. model anything only using the apple pencil and using the markup tool to sketch over models and afterwards project those sketches into the model’s faces. Very very cool.

It has other nice features, but these are the ones I like the most.

I recently got the 12.9 iPad Pro and started using it to scan residential renovation projects to create as-built floorplans with an App named MagicPlan. It works pretty well. Then I get an email that says that SketchUp for iPad is included in my SU subscription. I gave it a shot and I am impressed with it so far. I used SU for iPad and my laser measuring tool in front of a client to create an as-built model and they loved it. I was able to open the model in Trimble Connect and complete the model at my office on my desktop PC. I then went back to see the client and was able to hop on the iPad and spin them around the model to get their input on the design. They loved being able to dive into the model and adjust things as we stood in their home looking at the model and their actual home as a reference.

I was also pleased that the model didn’t lag or bog down even with a fully modeled kitchen and high poly furniture models.

I would love to see Trimble add the ability to use a Bluetooth-enabled Laser Measuring tool to fill in line lengths and other input of dimensions. MagicPlan takes measurements from the Bluetooth measuring tool.

I think it’s a great start and I would love to see Trimble continue to grow this tech. I would love to see this working on a Wacom Cintiq Pro-type large drawing tablet or Microsoft Studio-type large-scale touch screen PC.


That sounds great and how it can really be used the to take advantage of the various versions in a very constructive way. :+1: :+1:

The main reason why the iPad version has no extensions is that this is prohibited by the Apple store’s policy.

If SketchUp would apply those kind of rules on the extension part, there wouldn’t be so much extensions, I guess…

Tekla introduced their extension warehouse back in 2010 or 2011 and started to implement the useful ones in the core each upgrade.
Different pricing than SketchUp, though.

I find it astounding that there is still no seamless solution to fill this obvious gap. I wonder if it’s something that an extension developer could tackle and if the necessary hooks exist in the API to do so.

I’m also curious to see if the SU iPad team has designs on utilizing the LIDAR camera on the iPad Pro for scanning as-built spaces and converting the resulting data into SU models.

Given Trimble’s background you’d think it could be an interesting entry point for a low-end architectural 3D scanning solutions— basically a SU version of Canvas:

— but fully integrated and automated)

I tried canvas on my older iPad a few years ago with their $500 censor that mounted to the iPad and never had any luck.

Maybe I will check them out again.

I’m still chapped about wasting $500 on their equipment and never getting it to work.

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Interesting. I checked them out shortly after they first introduced it, but never sprang for it. Now that the hardware (scanner) comes embedded with the iPad, maybe it’s a more viable solution.

They’re still around, so one assumes it must be working for someone!

What I don’t like about their solution is the middle step - where you send them the point cloud and they derive the SU model from it and send it back in a day or two or three. It sounds like an overly manual process on their end.

One would hope that with advances in AI hardware and Machine Learning software that this (currently manual) step could become fully automated and embedded in the app. (A suitable challenge for the 16 core Neural Engine that comes with the M1 iPad)

What would be really cool is if it built your model on the fly from the scan in realtime, then asks you for laser measure inputs to finalize key dimensions — up to the precision of your measuring device — all whilst you’re still onsite.

In that case, I wonder why Trimble decided to launch on iPad rather than a Windows equivalent. I am regularly told that SU and especially LO work much better (or at least faster) on a Windows machine of equivalent spec to an Apple one. If it is because they see the market penetration of the iPad is so much greater, it argues that Trimble need to pull a rabbit out of the hat to deal with the extension issue. The whole USP of SU is that it is a basic package that can be tailored to personal circumstances through the use of extensions. If that will never be possible on an iPad, its usefulness will always be compromised.

The other USP is that it is easy to use, not overwhelmingly obiesed (new word!) with commands etc.
Most extensions involve geometry-creating or modifying, my guess is that the Autoshape tool in a combo with ‘live’ components will substantially diminish their needs.

Besides, it’s not meant to be a replacement. It does open up new possibilities with the native Markup tool and perhaps the native lidar scanning in the near feature.

They do had to build the app from the ground up, so that might be of influence for the Mac desktop App eventually.

Now you’re talking!

Just tried SU for IPAD. Creating some furniture for a hotel room as a test. For me increasingly I find more of my workflow is taking place on the IPAD these days so I would hope that SU for IPAD will develop more in the future.

After a few hours of building my model I have realized the following limitations so far:

A way view in Plan view or front back orthographic etc
More on-snaps would be very helpful
Better dimension tools - its very hard to dimension things with curved corners ect , its only good for boxy shapes really at the moment.

and a freehand drawing tool with an Auto smooth wound be amazing! The free drawing too is not good and seems no way to smooth the lines with spline handles etc. We ought to be able to “sketch” a curve naturally with the pencil.

I can leave my colleges to use the desktop version to work on the entire space in detail but I can see SU for IPAD is good for conceptual studies as well as detail studies that don’t need massive models. But the tools should be not limiting to make Ipad workflow slower, frustrating or a second choice.

Hoping for more goodies to come SU!


Same here… :blush:

Just to double check, are you using “Just Draw” mode or “Click-Move-Click”? Just Draw is the most fun, but it precludes hovering the cursor for certain snaps. When I need precise drawing, I end up needing Click-Move-Click.

It does standard views etc, and you can save scenes for plan, elev, etc. Are you looking for a better or easier way, or just figure out where it is on iPad?