Review: Apple Inc.'s iWork brings simplicity to docs

Mar 06 2014, 14:15 IST
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The iWork is free with the purchase of new Apple devices. The iWork is free with the purchase of new Apple devices.
SummaryApple's iWork may not replace Microsoft Office or Google Docs, but it it simplifies work in many ways.

Microsoft's Office is the go-to software package for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Google's Docs has emerged as a good, free alternative for lightweight tasks. But what's often overlooked is Apple's iWork.

Last fall, the iWork applications for the Mac - Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets and Keynote for presentations - got their first major update since 2009 and now work better with iPhone and iPad versions. Apple also developed an online version that can work on Windows computers and let several people collaborate on a single document more easily.

Apple's iWork won't replace Office, and Google Docs is better in some ways. But after using iWork for a few months, I've come to appreciate the ways it simplifies work. It became my primary way of writing news stories at last week's Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain.

The best part: iWork is free with the purchase of new Apple devices (the Mac version with new Macs and the iOS apps with new iPhones or iPads). Once you get it, you can install iWork on older devices. Otherwise, each of the three apps costs $20 for Macs and $10 for mobile devices, or $90 for everything. That's a one-time fee. To use Office on multiple devices, Microsoft charges $100 a year.

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USING IWORK ON DESKTOPS AND LAPTOPS:

With both Office and Google Docs, you primarily deal with a toolbox of options at the top. That's where you go to change fonts or adjust line spacing. With iWork, many of those options are moved to a palette on the right, which fills in the computer's horizontal screen much better.

More importantly, those options change depending on context. For basic text, you get basic formatting options such as font and size. Insert a chart, and you can adjust the gap between columns. Drag and drop a photo onto a Pages document, and you get image-editing tools such as cropping and color adjustment.

In a sense, the available features come to you, and you're invited to explore.

With spreadsheets, the palette on the right side presents all 267 options for formulas and calculations, arranged in categories. Click on any one for a full description of what it does and how it works.

With Excel, I use no more than a half-dozen formulas, mostly because I don't know about the others or can't be bothered to figure

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