In a recent visit with my mother, she showed Tiff and me the plans for a home renovation and was trying to figure out how to lay out the kitchen. We had some ideas, but it was hard to communicate them properly with hand-waving and our terrible drawing skills. But we ran out of time that morning and had to take a day trip an hour away.
Tiff was driving, so I brought my 3G-equipped iPad, searched for home-design apps, found a few decent-looking ones, bought Home 3D, figured out how to use it, and started recreating my mother’s new floor plan. All from the car, in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York.
When we got back to her house, I showed her this:
The iPad is only for consumption.
Then we 3D-“walked” through it. And it was awesome. She showed it to the contractor, and it has become the basis for the new design of her home.
The app isn’t amazingly great. Many parts of the interface are unintuitive, sloppy, or ugly. In addition to its $8.99 price, nearly all of the good furniture (including some essentials, like cabinets) is only available via In-App Purchase for a few more dollars, so it’s hard not to feel nickel-and-dimed. There are very few options for each item — you only get one or two choices for most objects. And all of the data is stuck in this silo, with only the ability to export images.
But this effort was still a huge success, because even with all of those limitations, it did everything we needed it to do.
I’ve had laptops and cellular internet connectivity for 7 years, but I never would have done something like this before. Why?
- I wouldn’t have been able to easily find a good app to do this without being bombarded with spam in my Google search. (And many of them would be Windows-only.)
- When I did finally find an app that looked reasonable, I wouldn’t have been able to find any trustworthy reviews, being bombarded instead by more search spam.
- When I went to buy it, it probably would have cost more.
- I wouldn’t have trusted it comfortably enough to install it on my computer.
- It might not even work.
- If it did work, I’d probably need longer to figure out its learning curve, and navigating wouldn’t be as easy or fast with a keyboard and trackpad.
- Taking out the laptop in the car, and passing around a laptop to show the final product, would feel much clunkier than using the iPad.
The computing revolution brought on by iOS, the hardware, and the App Store ecosystem is a bigger deal than we realize.