Is iWork for Mac on life support?

Is iWork for Mac on life support?

Summary: Apple's iWork 9.3 update shows that the company has all but abandoned its Mac office suite. Has Apple's office suite become a life support system for iOS?

TOPICS: Apple, Software
iWork 9.3 - Is Apple's desktop office suite on life support?

With the exception of a few changes to add support for iCloud, Apple hasn't given its iWork office suite too much attention since its release in 2009 - at least on the desktop, anyway. 

Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iOS ($9.99 each from the App Store) each got a significant update today. But on the desktop, the anemic iWork Update 9.3, also released today, adds support for Apple's iWork 1.7 iOS apps -- and not much else. 

Apple's iWork apps for iOS are actively being developed with snazzy features like:

  • Change tracking and roundtripping of changes (Pages)
  • Import and export spreadsheets with filters, and turn filters on and off (Numbers)
  • Support for various PowerPoint and Keynote slide sizes, presentation themes, master slides and preset styles (Keynote)

...but iWork '09 for the Mac only gets an occasional me-too upgrade with support for new iOS features. That's lame. If Apple's going to provide a true alternative to Microsoft Office and Google Docs/Drive, it needs to update its desktop office suite more than every four years.

What Office suite do you use on the Mac?

Further reading:

Topics: Apple, Software

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  • Catch up

    Or you could see it as catch up. The main problem was the iOS version couldn't use the same documents as the Mac version. So rather than updating it and having iOS still in catch-up mode yet again, they can now share documents much better. Now they can update them both together.
    • Re: Catch up

      Or, they could have saved themselves the extra work by keeping it compatible to begin with.
  • Cloudy Vision for iWork

    I sure hope iWork is not being put out to pasture. While Pages, to me, is still not a mature application, the '09 version got a lot better than its predecessors, and I agree that Keynote beats PPT hands down. I don't know anyone who has used Keynote who prefers PPT.

    The iCloud sharing is nice, but not a deal maker or breaker for me. Ergonomics are, and some aspects of the iWork interfaces could be better.

    Also, since MS Word and PPT are de facto standards in a lot of companies, a better, more reliable export that required less tweaking would also be welcome.

    I hope that we are not in for another Clarisifcation.
  • iWork

    I own iWork for desktop as well as the iOS version. I prefer it over Microsoft Office, which I have on an older MacBook. There are several features that sold me on this office suite. They are: price. ease of use, that is, it's easier to learn and use for someone who has no experience with spread sheets and similar office suites, then there is the universal availability of documents created with it through iCloud.
    It is an integral part of the hassel-free Mac invironment for me. You see, I'm retired from the IT game, but my wife still works and needs such products as these. The best way for me to stay retired without endless questions of "how do you do this, and how do you make it do that, and where's my ?" is to provide the most stabile, reliable, and intuitive products for someone like my wife, who doesn't really want to know all the technical details, she just wants a tool to work when she needs it, and let me tell you, the Mac system saves me a lot of grief there when it comes to redundant file saving (cloud, time machine automatic back-ups) vs. remote office terminal backups she constantly deletes by mistake and I have to try to recover with data rescue, etc..!
    I realy hope iWork is always there!
    • Nice Mac ad

      I'm not sure why you feel the need to justify why you like Mac. If its that good for you, you don't need to say anything. However, its also clear to me that you still picture Office from 2001. All these awesome iCloud syncing and office management was in MS Office long before iWork, you just didn't know it. I've been using SkyDrive for a long time to sync documents. Windows already has its own automatic time capsule where you can go back in time for any document and get its history. I think if you are going to advocate one system over another, you should understand both systems.

      My guess is that you like the shiny silver case and the glossy icons and smooth scrolling is the main reason why most Mac people like Mac more than PCs. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that being why you like it. Its your machine, you paid for it, enjoy it. But don't try to make it sound like some IT decision when you clearly are clueless as to what the competition has to offer.
      A Gray
      • Sort of and NO!

        Ok, so I agree that there is no reason to gush over platform's when being asked about an office suite, but your "We had it first and better" BS is just as weak!

        SkyDrive is more akin to what MobileMe did with iDisk (which predates skydive neener neener neener!). Was a shared sync'd set of folders and although there are days I would prefer to go back to that, it is not what iCloud doc sync is. Further, the revision history implemented in Word is not the same as the System wide revision tracking support built into the current MacOS and nothing like the TimeMachine backup system in OS X.

        Your total lack of understanding of these features in OS X make your snarky, comment on how Mac users just like shiny things and imply that there are no real and tangible benefits to the platform, just plain laughable. Take your own advice. Don't comment on the differences between systems unless you really understand both.

        As for the actual question. I'm betting iWork has simply paused it's development to allow the iOS team to catchup. Having complete file compatibility is critical between the Mac version and the iOS version (as well as having better export/import to MS Office) is critical. At least I hope that is the case because although Office is an excellent product in general it has not been a truly GREAT! Mac product sense Word 5.1 IMHO.
        • SkyDrive

          I think it's more about Dropbox than iDrive.

          Incidentally, Mac user without Office using SkyDrive, so I'm not sure how A Gray makes a rapid pivot from his claim of having iCloud like syncing in Office for a long time to the wonders of SkyDrive.

          But perhaps — in the tradition how how quickly the guilty suspect — he doesn't understand iCloud in actual practice. Hey, I'm an early adopter and there are things I don't get, so it's okay if that's so. But I haven't seen an interface in Office akin to the first Save dialog in TextEdit or Pages. (To be fair, none of my clients have advanced past O2007, which shows Microsoft's burden, businesses don't upgrade and people like me don't get to see the cool stuff.) As for second save dialogs, there aren't any, the document saves as you change it. I'm not saying Apple was first, I'm saying Apple has it now and I like it.
      • You could be wrong

        "My guess is that you like the shiny silver case and the glossy icons and smooth scrolling is the main reason why most Mac people like Mac more than PCs."

        I have used Macs since 1989. I have majored in Computer Science and used and programmed computers since 1971, e.g. at bit level directly from the front panel. When CLIs started to appear I thought "Naah, this is too easy". However, I was young and foolish then, now I concentrate on the substance. I have used almost all versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Mac and I even liked Excel. Today, I'd rather have my right arm cut off than use Office.

        I'm a little bit of geek and have sometimes wondered why there aren't new version of iWork. But when I go deep and ponder, which features I am missing (except for compatibility with iOS), I really can't mention any. Most computer users (at least a billion of them) don't need most of the features of Office. iWork, even at current level, is good enough for most people.
  • No.

    The iWork suite is quite complete and doesn't need constant upgrading. Extending into cloud and mobile are on going, the desktop versions are quite stable otherwise.

    Why the insistence that more and more upgrades occur on a schedule? One of the great features about this suite is it's easy of use and lack of bloat. Why keep adding more and more features until it resembles bloated Office?
    • I agree

      It is perfect and they should, in no way, try to make it any better. How could they? It's perfect!

      And any features that it doesn't have that Office does? BLOAT!

      Isn't that right?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Nicely played false dichotomy there

        Note that parent didn't say any new features would be bloat, only that adding features for the sake of saying you added features would eventually produce bloat. But, hey, a good false dichotomy ditches all that for a solid reducto ad absurdum argument.
        • Ha Ha!

          Pretty funny that, iPad's, iPhones and such get update all the time even though the old ones work just fine. The Apps on the iPhone and iPad get updated all the time and Apple fan people tell us these updates are good and justify why they update every year or so, but suddenly one product the Apple doesn't care about, they defend WHY it doesn't get updated.
          Face it peoples, like MS and Google, it comes a time when your company you worship just doesn't believe that product should be supported anymore.
          • Nature of the beast

            Yes, mobile and cloud connected apps are going to be getting much more development attention now and in coming years. This is a good and natural thing. Mobile and cloud are still evolving, desktop apps are, for the most part, already evolved. Now the upgrades to both will mainly target getting mobile and desktop to share work together. On OSX and iOS it's all coming along nicely. I'm very happy with recent progress. No worship required.
      • Informed response?

        @Michael Alan Goff

        I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that you have never used iWork ... try it, compare it to Office first hand, then we'll talk.
        • Except you'd be wrong

          I have used both, and my experience is that there are still a lot of things that iWork does wrong. They're mostly things that wouldn't take a huge amount of work.

          It would be great if there was some sort of option where I could have it save in .doc or .docx and not have to export it every single time. Do you know why? Almost nobody uses the .pages format. The same goes for keynote with .keynote and numbers with .numbers. Almost nobody is using those crappy extensions.

          We can have a discussion about whether or not Office itself is needed, but the extensions that Office has thrown into the office have become the mainstay.

          That's the most obvious of the changes that really need to be made. Another is that they need to make their full-screen mode a little less useless for Pages. Seriously, there's no point for it right now.

          And, for the sake of argument, perhaps there should be a way to save something on my computer and the cloud at the same time.

          But, sure, say I've never used it simply because I find there to be problems that Apple needs to solve. I'm sure it's great in the land of make-believe.
          Michael Alan Goff
  • I Think That's the Point

    No amount of engineering dollars for iWork will offset the advantage Office has as a highly used Windows application with a very good OS X port. Indeed it would make more sense to port iWork to Windows and that is no better than a silly idea, as it would be expensive to do, a low seller, and seeing Safari and iTunes as templates, not likely to be a great application.
  • Office is slow to open

    As someone working in the web, I keep office around for items I am sent, but I would never make a new document in it unless for someone who specifically requested that format. Its slow to open and too inflexible aesthetically. I'd use Acrobat rather than Powerpoint for presentations, and for everything else I use a mixture of Google docs and Textedit, which is one of my favourite mac programs. iWork never seemed to have an advantage over those, particularly the sharing a collaboration of iWork is pathetic compared to Google docs. I've dabbled in evernote, but I think its over hyped.
    • Slow to open?

      Me thinks you have other issues with you machine. Word just took about 2 or 3 seconds to open on a machine about 3 years old running Vista with only 2GB. Office 2010 version, if that's what you consider slow I feel sorry for you.
      • He could be on a 500 core computer and it will still be slow ...

        ... no because the suite is slow ... but because the company loaded the registry with monitoring crapware.

        The top reasons Office feels slow are due to poorly written startup scripts and McAfee AV set to paranoid mode.
  • I use iWork in OSX and iOS

    - and I used to swear you'd take my Office as soon as you could pry it from my cold, dead hands. It was simply that I'd spend forever finding the features I wanted in Office and once I knew where they were there was no way I'd switch platforms. I ignored iWork for generations.

    Once I tried it I realized that, just for me, everything I wanted to do was front-and-center. There was virtually zero learning curve whatsoever. I understood the commands and I believe to this day I've never used the "Help" menu - as opposed to practically using it every new document in Word.

    Now I'm as obstinate about Pages as I was about Word. Frankly I don't want Apple to change it for the sake of change. Are there new features? Cool. Better iOS and iCloud integration? Great. But otherwise please leave it alone!!