AutoCAD Back On The Mac, On iPads, iPhones Too

For the first time since the early 1990s, Autodesk is offering a version of its popular AutoCAD design and engineering application for Apple's Macintosh computers.

Some see Autodesk's move as evidence that Macintosh computers, after all but disappearing from corporate desktops as Windows-based PCs proliferated, are once again seen as a viable alternative for mainstream business applications.

Autodesk hasn't offered a native version of AutoCAD for Macs since 1992 and the company stopped supporting the Mac in 1994.

Last month market-research firm Gartner released a report showing Apple in fourth place in share (9.8 percent) of the U.S. market for desktop computers. Apple Macs generally hold a 10 percent share of the worldwide PC market, more than double what it had shortly after the turn of the century, and its sales have been growing faster than the overall market.

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Tuesday Autodesk unveiled AutoCAD for Mac, a version of the computer-aided design and engineering software that runs natively on Mac OS X, and AutoCAD WS mobile application, an application for Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices that allows users to edit and share AutoCAD designs while in the field.

"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," said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of Autodesk's Platform Solutions and Emerging Business, in a statement. He called the combination of the core AutoCAD software and the new mobile applications "a big step in Autodesk's efforts to accelerate design and make design more accessible for an ever-greater number of people."

The new software takes full advantage of the capabilities in Mac OS X, according to Autodesk, "including graphical browsing of design files with Cover Flow and use of Multi-Touch gestures on Mac notebooks, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad for intuitive pan and zoom features."

Macintosh-specific design patterns, such as its visual approach to drawing and layout management, also have been incorporated into AutoCAD for Mac. The new product also supports native creation and editing files in the DWG file format, Autodesk said, and files created in previous versions of AutoCAD can be opened in the new application.

AutoCAD for the Mac will be available in October with a retail price of $3,995. The AutoCAD WS mobile application will be available for free through Apple's App Store.

Last month the CRN Test Center reviewed AutoCAD 2011 that runs on Windows 7-based PCs and gave the new product a thumbs-up.