Erik Eckel takes a look at some of the updates you can expect to see with Apple's iWork applications.
Apple's iWork applications -- long secondary players to industry-leading behemoth Microsoft Office's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- are showing life. Cross-platform iOS, OS X, and Windows web-based compatibility, combined with new collaboration features, make Pages, Numbers, and Keynote (now free with new iOS devices and Macs) compelling competitors. Learn more about iWork applications' new look and features within this comprehensive gallery.
Users can access Pages, Apple's word processing application, using a web-based interface, an iOS device, or a Mac. The application includes several templates, including the blank portrait, blank landscape, and note-taking configurations (Figure A), as viewed when using the application on a Mac.
Pages templates on a Mac.
iWork Numbers template view
Numbers, the iWork spreadsheet tool, includes a blank template, checklist configuration, and charting basics layout, among other options. Figure B captures the template view using the application within OS X.
Numbers template view within OS X.
iWork Keynote default screen
Keynote, iWork's presentation application, includes several preconfigured templates. OS X users receive a default screen (Figure C) when creating a new presentation. The template choices include either standard or widescreen display options.
Keynote templates on OS X.
iWork web view
iWork applications can also be accessed on the web. Figure D shows the standard view that greets an iCloud user when logging in to his or her account. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are all largely functional, although still in beta at the time of this late fall 2013 writing.
Standard view that greets an iCloud user.
Pages web tutorial
Whether accessing Pages on an iOS or OS X device or from a web browser, Apple includes quick tutorials. Figure E shows the Pages screen that greet web-based users of the iWork app.
Pages screen via the web.
Web-based introduction of iWork apps
Apple recently added collaboration features to its iWork programs. The web-based introduction (Figure F) lists some of Pages' new features, including collaboration components. By using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, business users can now share files with colleagues and team together to make edits and updates to documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
Web-based introduction to some of Pages' new features.
Pages Coaching Tips
Apple includes helpful, time-saving tips to familiarize users with Pages' new features. These Coaching Tips can be hidden simply by clicking the Hide Coaching Tips option at the top right of the page. Figure G captures the Pages home page, which lists previous documents the user has created and stored within his or her iCloud account. Thanks to iCloud synchronization, edits made to the file using the web will also appear within the file when the document is accessed using an iOS device or OS X computer (and vice versa).
Pages home page.
Numbers Coaching Tips
Numbers includes the same Coaching Tips (Figure H) as Pages. Using iCloud, Numbers' spreadsheets can be accessed from the web, an iOS device, or OS X.
Numbers Coaching Tips.
Keynote Coaching Tips
As with Pages and Numbers, Keynote's default web view displays Coaching Tips (Figure I). Presentations can be created and edited using the web-based interface, and -- as with Pages and Numbers -- changes made to the iCloud-based files are then synchronize across the user's iCloud account to other iOS devices and OS X computers.
Keynote Coaching Tips.
Pages sample report
Although in beta, the web-based Pages program offers powerful document creation and editing features. Figure J shows a sample report, which demonstrates the simplicity of the web-based tools that's used to create and edit documents.
Sample report in Pages.
Sharing iWork files via iCloud
Users wishing to share iWork files using iCloud need only click the Share icon (Figure K). Doing so reveals the Share Document button, which -- upon being selected -- prepares the file for shared collaboration.
Click the Share icon.
Learn More about sharing
When users choose to share an iWork file, the application asks the user to confirm the sharing action. Users can also click the Learn More button (Figure L) to obtain additional information regarding iWork's sharing and collaboration features.
Click the Learn More button.
Sharing confirmation screen
Once iWork has prepared a file for sharing, the user receives this confirmation screen that includes a handy URL. Users can click the Email Link button (Figure M) to distribute the file sharing link with colleagues. Alternatively, users can select the Stop Sharing button and suspend sharing for the iWork file.
Sharing confirmation screen.
The Share icon changes to green when shared
Once an iWork document, spreadsheet, or presentation is shared with others, the Share icon changes from white to green (Figure N). The green icon alerts and reminds users the file is shared with others.
The Share icon changes from white to green.
Pages OS X interface
The Pages' OS X interface (Figure O) is similar to the same view users receive when accessing the application from the web. One notable difference is the addition of the toolbar across the top of the screen.
Pages OS X interface.
Various Pages templates
Pages includes several templates (Figure P), as mentioned earlier. In addition to typical document templates (like resumes, reports, etc.), Pages also includes envelope and business card configurations. Users receive templates for posters, advertising flyers, cards, newsletters, and more.
Pages has many templates.
Pages can create complex documents
Despite its simple interface, clean lines, and plentiful white space, Pages can create complex documents (Figure Q). As users interact with the program, the sidebar changes to provide contextually related tools. Thus, if a user places the cursor within text, text-based tools appear within the sidebar, making it easier to change fonts, styles, alignment, and spacing.
Pages can create complex documents.
Numbers builds complex charts
Numbers makes it easy to build complex spreadsheets and charts (Figure R). As with Pages (and Keynote), sidebars provide contextual information based on the cursor's location and the actions the user is performing (such as adding graphics, editing text, or building a table or chart).
Numbers builds complex charts.
Various Numbers templates
Numerous spreadsheet templates are available when using Numbers on a Mac (Figure S). In addition to blank templates, other options include personal finance tools, business functions, and pre-formatted budgets.
Numbers templates on a Mac.
Create complex spreadsheets
Apple hasn't just created simple spreadsheet templates. As this personal budget template demonstrates, Apple's worked to create attractive spreadsheets that include powerful tools and graphics to help make quick sense of complicated information (Figure T).
Powerful spreadsheet templates.
Keynote sidebar display
Keynote, as seen on a Mac (Figure U), includes a left-hand sidebar that displays each slide. The slide itself appears within the main window, while contextual tools appear within the sidebar on the right side of the page.
Keynote on a Mac.
Keynote on OS X
As with the web-based interface, Keynote, when run on OS X (Figure V), presents the user with a multitude of pre-formatted templates.
Keynote on OS X.
App Store updates on a Mac
Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are loaded and updated using the iOS and OS X App Store, as are other programs. Maintenance is easy, because users no longer need to check for iWork application updates separately from other programs. The App Store updates entries, shown in Figure W on a Mac, also list the update's size, version, date, and details.
The App Store updates entries.
Pages on an iPhone
Pages, Numbers, and Keynote can all also be accessed on an iPhone. Figure X demonstrates how the iPhone formats Pages.
Pages on an iPhone.
Access and edit iWork apps on an iPhone
By using iCloud, users can access and edit documents on an iPhone and even create new files (Figure Y). Changes synchronize throughout the user's iCloud account using either the smartphone's Wi-Fi or cellular data network.
Access and edit files on an iPhone.
Reading documents on an iPhone
Users may find they have to use gestures to read an entire document on an iPhone's smaller screen, but pinching reduces the document size so that entire pages can be seen on the display (Figure Z).
You can read documents on an iPhone.
iOS onscreen keyboard
When viewed full-size on an iOS device, documents can become unwieldy. Yet, edits can be made using the default iOS onscreen keyboard.
iOS onscreen keyboard.
Numbers on an iOS device
Spreadsheets can also be created and edited using an iOS devices (Figure BB). As with web-based and OS X interfaces, the iOS Numbers version also includes tutorials and templates.
Numbers on iOS.
Numbers spreadsheet on an iOS device
Numbers spreadsheets can be edited using an iOS device (Figure CC). Changes synchronize throughout the devices connected to the user's iCloud account.
Numbers spreadsheets on iOS.
Pages on an iPad mini
Moving to an iPad from an iPhone provides additional real estate to view and edit a file. Figure DD shows a Pages document on an iPad mini with the onscreen keyboard displayed. This Pages iPad view also demonstrates the iPad interface and corresponding toolbar complete with tool icons.
Pages document on an iPad mini.
Spreadsheets on an iPad
Spreadsheet edits become easier when using an iPad over an iPhone, thanks to the larger display (Figure EE). Coaching Tips are also available when using an iPad. The iPad view shows how the Numbers toolbar mimics both Pages and Keynote.
Spreadsheets on an iPad.
iPad landscape mode
Turning an iPad sidewise and triggering landscape mode enables users to view and edit many spreadsheets in their entirety (Figure FF).
Numbers on an iPad
Checklists, budgets, and numerous other spreadsheets can be accessed and updated using Numbers on an iPad (Figure GG). Performing the pinching gesture on this spreadsheet would enable viewing the file in its entirety onscreen.
Numbers on an iPad.
Keynote on an iPad
Keynote on an iPad also presents the ability to create, access, and edit presentations. As with Numbers and Pages, the application's toolbar appears along the top of the screen. Using Keynote, users can opt to leverage several formats, including Keynote presentations, PDF files, and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, as shown within this Apple App Store preview (Figure HH).
Keynote on an iPad.
Keynote presentation-sharing features
Keynote's presentation-sharing features are important for business users, who frequently must collaborate upon projects. Apple touts the sharing capabilities, as can be seen here. This Keynote iPad App Store preview (Figure II) also demonstrates how the iPad version makes it possible to easily send presentation links to colleagues.
Keynote's presentation-sharing features.
What are your favorite updates to Apple's iWork applications? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Automatically sign up for TechRepublic's Apple in the Enterprise newsletter.
About Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.
Seems like neither of you have actually used the suite of late. I use it daily in an environment that is dominated by Microsoft and I can say without a doubt that sharing files in the standard Microsoft formats is exceptionally easy. You certainly don't need to send someone a .pages file, you can send it in its native M$ Word formats of .docx and .doc.
You really don't need to fear using something different any more. All you need to do is open your mind and let the FUD wash away. Now if you don't believe me, why don't you try the latest version before you comment next time and put all the vitriol and anger to one side. It really is good and it really is free on new machines. The new iWork suite (Pages, Numbers and Key Note) also represents a significant saving for enterprises in comparison to M$ Office licensing. This is very important considering this time of belt tightening.
So, come on, give it a go, and don't be so quick to condemn. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations. :)
@King of VersaillesOur business standardized on iWork long ago and we have relied on it 100% for years now for our livelihoods, living completely without MS Office...
So I am definitely a fan of the suite, but I can't say I agree with everything you wrote.
For starters, the 2013 updates of iWork were a SERIOUS step backwards. Apple's dropping of features it just decided its users didn't need was arrogant and embarrassingly out of touch with customers.
To Apple's credit they admitted it was a mistake and have been quick at restoring some of the removed functionality, but the fact that it happened at all still has us rattled. Can we continue to trust our business to Apple's judgement? Or is it time to consider paying the Microsoft Tax again?
As for iWork's compatibility with MS Office, you were so busy labeling and belittling other commenters, (calling them "MS fan boys," accusing them of "FUD," etc.) that you didn't pay attention to what they were actually saying.
The are right: we can't send a .pages file to the rest of the world. While iWork has impressive MS Office CONVERSION compatibility, it is on us to make convert our work to make it compatible with outside groups.
We've decided the hassle is worth it for our business, but one size does not fit all and I can certainly see why it wouldn't be for everyone.
Interestingly, Apple appears to have taken a page out of Microsoft's play book and is now offering software free to grab market share.
And when Microsoft could not dethrone WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3...
it changed the platform (to Windows) and made sure it was first to that
platform. That is what Apple is doing now. They aren't adding new
features, they are combining functionality so OSX and iOS will be a
iWork is growing up fast, but it's not MS Office. Yet.