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iPad App Review: iWork Apps



by sjhoward

This is the 1,432nd post. It was published at 12:00 on Tuesday, 12th April 2011.

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I’ve been a Mac convert for about a year now. When I made the leap, I bought both iWork and Office 2008. That may sound extravagant, but the former NHS licence for Office meant that I got a copy for a nominal fee of £5 or so, and the Apple NHS discount when I bought my MacBook meant that iWork was very cheap too.

20110403-082044.jpgHaving made the leap to Mac, I initially tried using iWork, but when I found that Import and Export of Office formats was less than perfect, I moved back to Office.

Many people hate Office 2008, but I’m firmly in the ‘love it’ camp. The transition from PC Office to Mac Office took a few feet-finding days, but the workflow was just dramatically better. On the occasions where I made the leap back to a PC, it felt like making a major leap back in time to a really old version of Office.

In the last couple of months, I’d begun to read more and more about the wonder of iWork, and more specifically, Pages. It too seems to divide people into lovers and haters. Having read so much about it, I decided to give it s go on a couple of pieces of work I had to do. At first, the learning curve was steep, but after no more than a couple of hours, I was flying.

I’ve previously commented on OSX’s brilliant ability to just butt out of the way and let me get on with what I want to do, and now I’ve discovered that the same is true of Pages. It takes care of the document, I take care of the content. This is particularly true now I have all my own templates set up. It’s great.

20110403-082510.jpgKeynote is similarly fantastic, and if I’m doing a presentation from my own laptop, it is always first choice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t degrade to PowerPoint format brilliantly – all transitions are lost for one thing. So I find myself using PowerPoint more often than I’d like.

Numbers is a program I never understood. It looked horribly confusing, and I just never bothered to make that leap.

Then my iPad came along. Page and Keynote went straight on board, and I loved them. I specifically loved the integration with iDisk, which I hadn’t read about in advance. I keep most of my documents on iDisk, and this meant that I could view and edit them on the go.

The software is genuinely powerful, and I was really very surprised by how good it was. It does have irritating niggles, though. Pages on the iPad can’t support footnotes, for example. That would be kind of acceptable if it handled the limitation with grace, but it doesn’t. Almost all of my work documents contain either footnotes or endnotes. If I copy a document containing these from my iDisk, when I open the iPad copy, it strips them all out. If I then edit the document on the go and re-upload to iDisk, there are no footnotes. This effectively means that I can’t edit most of my work documents on the go. Fail.

20110403-082053.jpgKeynote is great for writing and giving presentations on the go, or pulling them from my iDisk and giving them. I thought it would be the iWork App I used the most, but actually, I haven’t really got to grips with it yet, so can’t really give it a fulminent fair review.

Having liked Pages and Keynote on the iPad (despite their limitations), I thought I’d give Numbers a go. I had some data collection to do, and thought doing it on a uber-portable iPad would make life easier. And boy, it did.

The iPad’s form factor was perfect for data collection, and the fact that I could upload the data to my iDisk and thereby access and process it easily in Numbers on the Mac actually converted me to Numbers on the Mac. And, like Pages, now that I know my way around, it is my first choice piece of spreadsheet software. And not all of my spreadsheets are as interminably dull as the one pictured with this post – it’s just the only one that didn’t seem “sensitive”.

Again, the iPad version has it’s foibles – it can’t cope with Headers and Footers, which is just bizarre, and strips them out like Pages strips out footnotes.

But, especially for Numbers, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages many times over.

I’m now firmly in the ‘love it’ camp for iWork on the Mac (though for work purposes, Office is essential too), and I really like iWork on the iPad. There are bizarre bits around the edges that limit the usefulness of the software, undoubtedly, but it still is very usable for a lot of tasks.

I’d recommend it.


This is the second in a series of posts reviewing iPad Apps. Yesterday’s review was of The Times App. Check back tomorrow for my review of the Sky News App.

More posts worth reading


Comments and responses

Comment from roby


by roby

Comment posted at 18:13 on 12th April 2011.

Wonderfully written, first-person account of your experience! Appreciate your reviews and relating of your encounters and judgments.


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


by sjhoward

Comment posted at 21:17 on 12th April 2011.

Many thanks for the positive feedback, roby! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series! :-)


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