The toolbox to support building information modeling and field data management by cloud computing is getting better stocked with new app releases and, announced on Nov. 30, the planned acquisition of cloud-computing firm Horizontal Systems by Autodesk Inc.

For example, Bentley Systems Inc. also released a new app, Structural Synchronizer V8i, for iPads and iPhones—with Android and Windows versions to come. It provides data synchronization, change management, revision history and model viewing, says Huw Roberts, Bentley's global marketing director for building.

The latest jockeying by design software vendors Autodesk and Bentley points to the quickening pace of innovation in software to marry BIM to cloud computing and "untether" BIM tools from desktops for field-based workflows.

Roberts says the app shares V8i's ability to work across many non-Bentley file formats as well as with Bentley's own. "It works great for someone who's using Tekla, Revit or industry-neutral file formats [and other design and BIM products]," he says.

Interoperability also is driving Autodesk's acquisition of Horizontal Systems and its BIM-in-the-cloud management tools. Autodesk says it plans to integrate the Horizontal software with its Autodesk 360 suite, which supports distributed project data creation and updating.

The company announced the planned acquisition at a recent Autodesk University event and on the heels of its latest app release, Constructware Field, which helps pass design information to and from jobsites. Paul Sullivan, an Autodesk spokesman, says the rising pace of tablet adoption is fueling the need for tools and apps to "untether" BIM tools and help customers get data into the field, to the point of construction.