If you’ve ever used takeoff software, you’ll know that you can get a high level of accurate counting with far less time and effort. Which means we often get asked: can I use takeoff software on my iPad or iPhone?

It may be more ergonomic to use takeoff software on an iPad or just more convenient while on the move, but unfortunately many takeoff softwares aren’t optimised for iPad compatibility. 

Here are some of the reasons why we don’t recommend trying to use takeoff software on your iPad:

Smaller screen size

iPads have a much smaller screen than a laptop or PC and most software isn’t designed to be used at that size. Particularly with takeoff software where you’re counting individual symbols as this can increase error margin.

Similarly, if you have drawings which aren’t clear, which as we all know can be a problem, you may struggle on an iPad screen to catch and separate them. Even if your software has various stages of checking like Countfire does, it’s still going to add time to your estimating process.

Touchscreen functionality

iPads have what’s called a “capacitive” touch screen which means they have layers built upon lots of small cross sections. When you touch or swipe on the top screen layer, this pinpoints a location within the cross section and this tells the iPad to complete an action. These points are placed frequently, so that almost every touch can be picked up with one touch of a finger but this isn’t 100% foolproof. 

If you think about most takeoff software, you may want to zoom in and out of a drawing, drag a selection over a specific part or use keyboard shortcuts like Hold shift.

Gif showing how to drag and select a symbol

Most takeoff apps won’t have been built with this touchscreen functionality in mind, which means that you might find yourself unable to complete basic actions which are essential for completing your counts. 

Only available from the App Store

The final hurdle for takeoff software companies is that you can’t install any old software onto an iPad. Apps can only be downloaded via the App Store and there are rules that apply to any app with paid subscription plans. Apple will take up to 30% of the revenue of any paid app and this often makes it unfeasible for takeoff companies to be able to afford to develop, and continually improve, takeoff software that works on iPads or iPhones. As a result, many of the free takeoff apps you see in the App Store are badly made, or buggy, which can reduce the accuracy of your counts.

Alternatives for iPad takeoff software

While it might be difficult to get takeoff software working correctly on an iPad, here are two workarounds we suggest looking at:

  1. Your iPad or smartphone with a wireless keyboard and mouse

If you’re really keen to use your iPad, one of our Product Specialists Ryan discovered that it is possible if you add a separate wireless keyboard and mouse. This takes a bit of setting up but may be a solution if you’re keen to use your iPad for takeoffs long-term. 

Just remember to check your iPad before you purchase anything as a Bluetooth mouse will only work with iPadOS 13.4 or later. Similarly, if you purchase another brand of mouse there will be various other settings you’ll need to tweak. Here’s how to add a Bluetooth mouse to your iPad.

You’ll also need to add a Keyboard to your iPad but again, check the requirements and compatibility before you buy anything. 

Once you have your keyboard and mouse attached you’ll be able to select symbols, the same as you might on a laptop or PC.

Just be sure to follow the Countfire quality control process properly, as there still may be some margin of error while working with a smaller screen.

  1. Cloud-based takeoff software on your laptop or PC

Of course, takeoff software like Countfire is really built for use on your Mac or PC. The benefit of cloud-based software is that you don’t have to download anything, or worry about not having the correct files when using a different computer.

With Countfire everything stays synced to the cloud, ready for when you need to access it. This means that any computer device you’re using can hook up to the takeoff software and allow you to carry on, which is much more convenient while on the go. 

It’s also much easier, while using a larger desktop or laptop screen, whether on Mac or Windows, to ensure full quality control and true automated takeoff.

Allowing you to:

  • Remove unwanted areas
  • Toggle symbols on/off to ensure you’ve counted everything
  • Isolate specific symbols
  • Split different areas into zones

All of which will be more difficult, and sometimes impossible, when using an iPad or smartphone. 

Final thoughts

While the iPad is great for watching TV and storing notes on the go, it isn’t the best choice of device when it comes to takeoff software. To ensure maximum accuracy and to make your task of counting easier, it’s best to stick to cloud-based takeoff software accessed from your PC or laptop. To get a free demo of Countfire and see how easy it is to use automated counting, start here.