Friday, June 14, 2013

iWork Goes Cloud.


Every self-respecting Mac user discusses iOS 7. There has been another,  less discussed but nevertheless revolutionary announcement: iWork for iCloud beta-version coming this Autumn.

Apple's website says:
"iWork has always been the best way to be productive on the Mac. And iWork for iOS made it easy to create beautiful documents on iPad and iPhone. With iWork for iCloud we’re bringing Pages, Numbers, and Keynote to the web — on Mac and PC. And thanks to iCloud, your work is always up to date on all your devices."

This is something I predicted in March last year when Apple decided to phase out, effectively to cancel, it's paid web-based service iWork.com. In the face of competition from Google Drive (Google Docs), a similar free-to-the-user service, Apple had nothing to do but adapt and move on. 

iWork for iCloud could be an enhanced replacement of the discarded iWork.com.

Unlike iWork.com, iCloud is free and developed primarily for use with mobile (hand-held) devices, such as iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, that are part of the fastest growing segment in computers.

iWork users have been complaining that the programme hasn't been updated for quite a long time. Apparently Apple's strategy is focused not so much on developing, or rather cluttering with new features, the already powerful and elegant suite, but on making it more compatible, perhaps to the point of seamlessness, with other similar programmes, like MS Office or Open Office, and, secondly, making it accessible on multiple devices with Cloud, including PCs.

Which makes perfect sense both in terms of usability and marketing. A growing number of people have more than one computer at their disposal, ranging from desktops to laptops to tablets to smartphones. Making one licensed iWork version work on all these makes it more attractive. Even more so now, that iWork's applications, the text and graphic processor Pages, the presentation programme Keynote and the spreadsheet app Numbers, can be bought separately as stand-alone products.

There is more. Early versions of iWork had compatibility issues with MS Office and weren't easy to share via email or web. Currently, iWork documents can be easily exported to Word, PDF and other widely used formats and mailed. For e-publications iWork is compatible with the popular ePub format and can be published via Apple's own iBooks. It looks like Apple is making a further step in compatibility when various formats can be shared though the Document Manager and iCloud Mail.

As Apple's site says:
"It’s easy to work with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. Just drag them to the Document Manager and make your edits, then share them in iWork, Office, or PDF formats via iCloud Mail."

There are limitations, though. You can get a Google account entirely free, for example when you sign up for gmail. To get access to the Apple service, you must have a piece of their hardware. As columnist Amy Gahran explains:
"The downside, compared to Google Docs, is that you must have an Apple ID to access this service, which means you must own at least one Apple device. Also, you can only share editable documents with other Apple ID accounts. Therefore, iWork in the cloud is not really "free." In contrast, you don't have to purchase anything to use Google Docs."

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