Managing documents gets simpler with the Apple’s iWork app. When talking about document management, we already have Microsoft’s Office go-to software package for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. And the Google’s Docs has emerged as a good, free alternative for lightweight tasks.
The advantage of Apple iWork document management application is to simplify the work that is highly appreciated. The best part about iWork is that it 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.
Using iWork on Desktops and Laptops:
Both the Office and Google Docs primarily deal with a toolbox of options at the top. While, with the Apple iWork, many of those options are moved to a palette on the right, which fills your desktop’s horizontal screen much better.
Moreover, 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.
With spreadsheets, the palette on the right side presents all 267 options for formulas and calculations, arranged in categories. You can view the full description and how it works by just clicking on any one of it.
With Excel, you can use more than a half-dozen formulas, mostly because I don’t know about the others or can’t be bothered to figure out the syntax. Another neat feature is Select a column of numbers – let’s say, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. The Apple app will automatically calculate the results using five of the most-used formulas – such as 108 for “SUM” and 18 for “AVERAGE.”
Using iWork elsewhere:
Apple does a good job of keeping the iOS apps consistent with the Mac applications. The major change to note is finding options to the right; you tap various buttons to access them.
In fact, many long-time iWork users have complained that Apple adapted the Mac version too much to achieve consistency with iOS. Some features, such as using files in Rich Text Format, went away. Apple promises to bring some of the features back in the coming months.
With iWork you can sync Apple’s iCloud storage service and share documents. Changes made on the Mac show up on the iPad within seconds. Line and page breaks stay the same.
That consistency extends to some degree to the Web version, known as iWork for iCloud. Formatting remains the same. New features have been coming every month or two, so expect improvements over time.
Unfortunately, there’s no app or iCloud support for devices running the rival Android system from Google. And for Windows, you must stay online to use iCloud.
No Apple account or iWork app is needed to share the documents. With the Web version, you can now send others a link from the Web or any of the apps. Your collaborators can open up the document on the Web.
It’s easy to convert Office files to iWork and back, but you might lose formatting and formulas. Numbers replaced some complex formulas I had in Excel with static numbers. Because of this, and the fact that there are no stand-alone Windows apps, iWork isn’t ready yet as a replacement for Office.
Nonetheless, iWork is a good option for personal documents that don’t require a lot of sharing. If that’s all you need, there’s no sweeter word than free app.