Apple addresses iWork's shortcomings

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?