Arik Hesseldahl

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Exclusive: Autodesk Brings AutoCAD to Android Phones and Tablets This Month

There’s probably not a recent building or major movie that wasn’t touched in some way by AutoCAD, the computer assisted design sofware put out by Autodesk. If you’re someone works with CAD files, you’re probably the type of person who wants access to them from anywhere you go.

Today Autodesk will announce that it’s AutoCAD software is available for Google’s Android smartphone and tablet platform. The formal announcement will come after the close of the market today.

I talked last week with Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice President, Platform Solutions and Emerging Business at Autodesk and he told me that there’s a growing demand for AutoCAD users–whether they’re architects or construction managers at a job site, or just someone who spends a lot of time away from their desk–to have access to their CAD files from a mobile device. The answer was AutoCAD WS, which is essentially a mini version of AutoCAD, released first for Apple’s iOS devices.

Once released for the iOS, Autodesk saw a million downloads and 8 million sessions. A browser-based version of AutoCAD WS followed. “We clearly saw the need we had been hearing about,” Hanspal said. Moving to Android, which has a much bigger presence in emerging companies, is another big step in that access-anywhere direction.

“When the iPad and iPhone became more of a trusted environment, we felt this was a good platform from which to enable access,” he told me. AutoCAD WS doesn’t support all the commands of AutoCAD, but it is built with collaboration and basic edits in mind. “After we got the iPhone version out, one of the big things our customers asked for was support for Android. We think this should be very successful because in certain geographies there’s a lot of anticipation around it.”

Hanspal says it will run not only on Android phones, but also on tablet devices like the Samsung Galaxy and the Motorola Xoom. That wasn’t easy, he said, because of the variations in the Android platforms across different devices and manufacturers. “We’ve had to test it across something like 15 different devices and tweak it a little to run on them all,” he said. “That’s why it took us a little longer than we would have liked to get it done. The complicated part of developing for Android is not developing itself. It’s the testing.”

AutoCAD users will be able to view anything they’ve created on that software, and you’ll be able to zoom in on details. You can also make basic edits and modifications. Say you’re at a job site and realize a pillar needs to be moved a little. The app lets you mark it up or add additional bits, then send the changes to the original file. The software will be available later this month and it will be free.