Autodesk Unveils AutoCAD for Mac

Autodesk is releasing AutoCAD for Mac, offering its software for drafting and editing 2D and 3D models on Apple's platform for the first time in 18 years.

Autodesk is releasing AutoCAD for Mac software, returning to the Apple platform after 18 years. In addition to a version running natively on Mac OS X, Autodesk also plans on releasing an AutoCAD WS mobile application for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

AutoCAD allows illustration-minded professionals, including engineers and architects, to draft and edit 2D and 3D models. The Mac version will be available before the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the company, and cost either $3,995 without a support subscription of $4,445 with one.

"The release of AutoCAD for Mac marks the return of professional design and engineering software to the Mac platform and an important convergence of power and design," Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of Autodesk Platform Solutions and Emerging Business, wrote in an Aug. 31 statement. "The combination of this new version of AutoCAD and the extension of AutoCAD to iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch is a big step in Autodesk's efforts to accelerate design and make design more accessible for an ever-greater number of people."

The growing prevalence of Mac OS X in businesses, apparently, led Autodesk to reconsider the platform as viable for AutoCAD, as did Apple's migration to Intel CPUs.

According to Hanspal, some 5,000 people participated in beta testing for AutoCAD for Mac. While some AutoCAD for Windows features-including network-based licensing and Visual Basic support-are absent from the Mac version, the latter leverages aspects of Mac OS X: multi-touch gestures for the Magic Mouse and TrackPad will pan and zoom through an AutoCAD model, and users can browse through design files via Cover Flow. Files created in previous versions of AutoCAD will open in AutoCAD for Mac, theoretically easing the transition for workplaces.

A variety of APIs and customization options allow firms to tailor the platform to their particular requirements.

The free mobile app will allow AutoCAD users to take that same functionality on the road, as it were. "The iPad's become a crossover device," Hanspal reportedly said, with "the perfect form factor" for displaying an AutoCAD screen. Autodesk's other Apple mobile apps include Sketchbook Mobile and Sketchbook Pro, professional-grade painting and drawing tools.