Apple addresses iWork's shortcomings

Apple addresses iWork's shortcomings

Summary: Under mounting pressure from iWork for OS X users, Apple has revealed a set of features coming to its Office software suite. Help is on the way

Apple address iWork shortcomings - Jason O'Grady

At its fall event last month, Apple announced updates to its long-in-the-tooth iWork apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote). While a couple of highly-requested features arrived in the new iWork for OS X and iOS (namely iCloud syncing and collaborative editing) arrived in the new suite. Several features were removed in the process, and loyal users got extremely upset about the changes. 

Several threads in the Apple Community forum are tracking features that were removed in Pages 5.0 and Numbers 3.0 for OS X. While iWork apps are used by a relatively small group of users compared to the dominant Microsoft Office suite, they're a passionate and loyal bunch. After all they stuck with iWork through four lean years with little updates or attention and almost no new features being added.

There is a method to Apple's madness however. In order to get full file compatibility between the OS X and iOS versions of iWork to enable to the requisite syncing and collaboration features, Apple abandoned the legacy OS X code and used the iOS version as a basis for the new OS X version. That's right, Apple ported the iOS apps to OS X, and it trimmed a lot of desktop/OS X features in the process. 

The complaints were growing so loud that they prompted Apple to do something that it rarely does -- pre-announce a series of features that will be coming (back) to iWork. To appease an increasingly disgruntled user base Apple published a list of features coming to iWork in the next six months in the form of a knowledge base article called "About the new iWork for Mac: Features and compatibility."

On Apple's short list for inclusion are the following:


  • Customize toolbar
  • Vertical ruler
  • Improved alignment guides
  • Improved object placement
  • Import of cells with images
  • Improved word counts
  • Keyboard shortcuts for styles
  • Manage pages and sections from the thumbnail view


  • Customize toolbar
  • Improvements to zoom and window placement
  • Multi-column and range sort
  • Auto-complete text in cells
  • Page headers and footers
  • Improvements to AppleScript support


  • Customize toolbar
  • Restoring old transitions and builds
  • Improvements to presenter display
  • Improvements to AppleScript support

While it's a step in the right direction, is it enough to keep you from defecting to an open-source alternative (like NeoOffice or OpenOffice) or the $219 Microsoft Office for Mac? 

Topic: Apple

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  • Switched to OpenOffice 4 for the Mac

    When I saw that the new iWork actually removed features vs the iWork '09 we'd been using, I decided to try OpenOffice for Mac.

    Previous versions of OpenOffice were quite unimpressive and poorly integrated. But OpenOffice 4 (now managed by Apache) is a whole different animal from prior versions. I highly recommend it to anyone who isn't shackled to MS Office.
  • Apple software

    It would be nice for loyal Apple software users if Apple was consistent with their software. Example: AppleWorks changed to Clarisworks changed to Appleworks and dropped. Then iWorks with its changes/iterations/neglect, etc. Several things were a lot easier to do with Appleworks than with iWorks. Like the government, Apple needs to learn the difference between "change" and "improvement".
  • Office Lite

    They took a feature lite office suite and made it even lighter? :-S

    I'm supposed to be looking at moving our presentations from PowerPoint to Keynote, but so far I haven't been impressed. Keynote has a reputation for making presentations that are better than PowerPoint.

    I will give it a point that the templates are very nice, but we have a corporate style anyway, so that doesn't matter. But it seems very restricted in its features, especially complex multi-part animations, which make up a majority of what we do. Maybe it is just the import that lops off 2/3 of each slides functionality that is the problem. I thought I could use the existing PPTs as a starting point to understand how Keynote works and learn where it is better than PP, but so far it only does the same as Pages and Numbers - take an original MS Office document and castrate it... :-S
    • Re: take an original MS Office document and castrate it...

      May be, it is that bad it could not be saved any other way?

      Sorry, couldn't resist :)

      Anyway, I believe in order to fully appreciate Keynote, you need to start a presentation there from scratch. Then actually go all the way to presenting it. On various devices (iPhone/iPod, iPad, Macbook, via AirPlay to Apple TV etc). Only then can you understand the differences with PowerPoint.

      It is always frustrating to see how "features" are "stripped" when importing an foreign format.. but that works both ways.
      • That's right... do it Apple's way...

        ..after all, Apple knows best, right?

        "you need to start a presentation there from scratch. Then actually go all the way to presenting it. On various devices (iPhone/iPod, iPad, Macbook, via AirPlay to Apple TV etc)."

        ..even though he already said he has a specific template format built for his company, (presumably a background with logos and such) and chances are the only two things he's likely to even present them on is a TV or a projector, either one connected to his laptop.
        • You do realize that your first paragraph has NOTHING to do w/ your second?

          Eh, probably not.
          • Wouldn't expect you to understand the link...

            ..first paragraph, chiding the general attitude Apple and their proponents have that they know the "one and only" way to do things...

            ..second paragraph, outlining the exact example of that attitude in action, and why it might be a bit ridiculous to start from scratch with a presentation that is already working quite well on PowerPoint.

            Or, I guess putting in an extra few hours of rework to get back to the status quo is second nature to Apple users.. And I'm sure like many other "cheaper than Office" fanatics here, wright_is' time isn't worth anything anyway.
          • And again, they have nothing to do with each other

            First, it has nothing to do with "Apple knowing better", it has to do with the work flow. Second, if he already has a template, none of the rest of your claims are valid.
      • That's probably

        what I'll end up doing, but given the hundreds, if not thousands, of slides I need to convert, it is a heartbreaking task.

        For the more basic slides, it isn't a problem. It is the ones where hundreds of objects are animated and have serial animations. Keynote seems to cut them off and only recognises the first animation command for each object the other dozen or so commands seem to get lost. I'll have to have a closer look, when I get some more time.
        • The result will be better...

          I was recently asked to produce a Keynote presentation for a customer - Yes, I did lose some features in the conversion from ppt to key, but added them back in a form that was better than before, and found the flexibility to be much greater...
  • Finally!

    Dit's needed a kick in the pants for a while now. Let's be clear - it isn't MS Office - that's the beast of office suites, and I think it'd be a mistake to go there. I do find a lot of the apple suite easier to use than the MS one but then again, it does so much less (not a problem for me as I don't use these extra features) however it has baffled me for some time how the apple office suite on iOS can be the by eat designed UI bar none, and the desktop version is still lagging in the early 00's.
  • iWorks is a joke

    Business won't consider any software if the name starts with a small 'i'.
    • Correct

      Because business likes fashion and cares how the stuff is named, before instructing their employees to start using it. No?
    • iPhobia

      Sounds like the original Blackberry-iPhone argument.
    • another account name?

      how many are you on now?
    • Office for Mac is a joke

      Though not very funny. Office 4 Mac is the worst office suite ever. Especially Excel. We've got additional requirements list from our customer in excel format 2 days ago. After half an hour of trying to understand what the hell is written there, because The Excel couldn't display the text correctly and align it correct, I decided to install the Numbers and you know what? It helped. It worked.
      Maria Davidenko
      • It's so hard to believe MS started out making software for the Mac

        I used Word from version 1 and looked forward to updates (version 1 was fit only for creating text to import into PageMaker) but the last decent version was Word 5.1. MS lost me as a customer with what, for me, is still the worst piece of software ever released: Word 6. I've dallied with trial downloads of later versions (well, I can always hope can't I?) but was never compelled enough to buy.
        Laraine Anne Barker
        • Unfortunately,

          MS makes a software for mac. It even sells it. To enterprise. Unfortunately for those, who needs to deal with this so called software.
          Maria Davidenko
      • You must be on a very different Office than the one I have

        2011... it is flawless. Superb. Better, if anything than Office 2010, which is on my PC.
        • Really?

          Office for mac 2011 is disgusting. Now iWork is free and I don't need the MS Office for mac. Any other language than English makes the problems,but Numbers and Pages deal with this task great.
          Maria Davidenko