Autodesk is back for another bite of Apple. The San Raphael, Calif.-based design-software developer announced on Aug. 31 that, for the first time since 1995, the current version of AutoCAD will be available for Macintosh computers running the Apple operating system as well as for AutoCAD WS, a mobile app that lets users share AutoCAD designs in the field using Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iTouches.

Back to the Future: AutoCAD Now Available for Macs
Illustration: Richard Demler

Autodesk spokesman Noah Cole says the release gives anyone with an iOS device or a modern web browser the ability to view, edit and collaborate on an AutoCAD DWG file. “We imagine that people on the construction site can carry around an iPad, as opposed to carrying around a roll of blueprints,” Cole says.

AutoCAD WS joins two other Apple-friendly Autodesk apps; Sketchbook Pro and Fluid FX, Cole says. Further, AutoCAD software for other mobile-device platforms is being studied.

The move marks a return to the Mac for Autodesk, which stopped releasing AutoCAD software for Macs in 1994, citing the relatively high cost of Macs at the time, Apple’s then-declining market share and its proprietary operating system. Since then, Apple has become more business-focused, and it still appeals to many designers who like its software and hardware and who often run other programs originally developed for Macs, such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Architects are big users of iPhones, too.

Autodesk began considering, in 2005, the release with a planned switch to Intel-based processors. The suggested retail price is $3,995, but Cole says Windows users who want to switch to the Mac will be able to do so “for a small fee.” Autodesk says the software will be available to students and educators for free.