Courtesy Morpholio

An architect arriving on a job site with a tablet in hand in lieu of a roll of drawings is not an uncommon sight these days. Still, for the everyday walkthrough, you may not always be toting an iPad around to reference the drawings or to snap a photograph. What people more likely have within arm’s length is their smartphone.

New York–based Morpholio is banking on the smartphone’s ubiquity to drive designers to its iPhone app Trace (iOS, $7.99 per month or $19.99 per year), which the firm launched to the public today. Building off the design and software development firm’s past apps and tools, which includes Perspective Finder, Stencil, and ScalePen, the Morpholio team sees its newest release of Trace as an essential tool for construction administration (CA). “Not only do budgets, scope changes, and fast track schedules force important design decisions on site, but unforeseen field conditions, contractor errors, and never ending client changes can all keep your team designing and problem solving throughout CA,” Morpholio attests in its press release.

Trace can tap into the iPhone’s augmented reality (AR) camera to overlay a perspective grid over the digital viewfinder for real-time sketching or mark-up. Moreover, you can make these mark-ups to scale, tag construction drawings with associated in-progress or punch-list photographs, map siteplans to scale, and pull dimensions from a photograph.

Courtesy Morpholio

If these capabilities sound familiar, it is because many of them exist in some fashion in Morpholio’s Trace for the iPad, as well as in other software programs, such as the PDF software Bluebeam Revu. But, as Morpholio co-founder Toru Hasegawa tells ARCHITECT, “Trace on iPhone is entirely new, incorporating … all other favorite Trace tools made to be user friendly on the iPhone.” This app does not override the need for Trace on the iPad’s larger screen. “Perhaps you capture perspectives and grids on the phone, but then transfer them to your iPad for more detailed drawing,” he says. “Both formats are irreplaceable in certain situations, and we wanted to capitalize on the myriad unique use cases for architects.”

Some of Trace’s tools and potential applications for the iPhone are highlighted below.

Perspective Sketching
Trying to accurately draw what the project condition should look like as wind and dirt blows in your face, or a skeptical contractor stares you down? Tapping into iOS 11’s ARKit capabilities, Trace’s Perspective Finder overlays a customizable perspective grid over the iPhone viewfinder to serve as a drawing guide. You can sketch directly on your iPhone or save the view for detailed drawing later on your iPad.

Draw over photographs in perspective with virtual gridlines.
Courtesy Morpholio Draw over photographs in perspective with virtual gridlines.

Field Documentation to Scale
Sick of juggling a notepad, tape measure, and pencil along with your other gear? If you know one fixed dimension captured in your iPhone photo—say the height of a window unit or the dimensions of a prefabricated module—you can use TracePro to pull multiple dimensions off a photo taken in the field. Fill a field report with dimensioned photographs using TracePro’s integrated ruler and any of its measuring tools, including the triangle and protractor. Share the notes immediately to your team members or later, from the your iPad.

Use one known dimension to take multiple measurements from a photo.
Courtesy Morpholio Use one known dimension to take multiple measurements from a photo.

PDF Drawings
The human eye has adapted to watching full-length movies on handheld screens, so why not page through a full set of construction drawings on your iPhone? You can also annotate the drawings with notes or photographs of what you’re seeing.

Export site notes and field photographs from Trace for the iPhone.
Courtesy Morpholio Export site notes and field photographs from Trace for the iPhone.

Siteplan Measurements
Trying to get the lay of the land? Ascertain distances on a site plan using a scaled map and the phone’s positioning abilities to measure distances between landmarks.

Measure between landmarks with a scaled map.
Courtesy Morpholio Measure between landmarks with a scaled map.