Crippled iWorks apps for iPad causes confusion and frustration for new owners

It seems that the iPad's crippled support for iWorks documents is causing frustration for some users.

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It seems that the iPad's crippled support for iWorks documents is causing frustration for some users.

The problems relate to the Keynote and Pages apps for the iPad and how these apps support certain features when documents are imported to the iPad from Keynote and Pages for Mac.

Here's one excerpt from the support forum:

The part that comes as a huge and surprising disappointment - TO ME - is that my Keynote and Pages documents are altered when they are converted to the iPad version. Grouped objects are ungrouped (this for me is a big issue given my complex presentations), endnotes and footnotes are not imported in Pages, Table of Content changes to regular text, some fonts cannot be used on the iPad, etc.

This means, for instance, that I won't be able to do the following: Transfer a Pages document (with footnotes, etc.) to iPad, edit it while on the road, then sync that file back to my Macbook when I reach home. The moment I move the file to the iPad, it loses a whole bunch of things that are standard on most documents that I create (e.g., footnotes and endnotes).

Similarly, I cannot create a Keynote presentation on my Macbook (with grouped objects, for example) and expect it to transfer intact to the iPad. To use the iPad's Keynote I will need to change all my existing KeyNote classnotes (hundreds of pages) to remove the fonts that the iPad does not like, to remove grouped objects and other formatting that the iPad does not like, and so on. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the inclination to dumb down my years of carefully-prepared presentations in this manner

I had thought that the iPad will give me the ability to make presentations more easily and to edit documents while on the road, without having to lug around a laptop. Looks like I am not the target audience for this device yet.

This feeling is echoed in numerous other postings on the support forum.

Apple does have knowledgebase articles related to both Keynote and Pages for the iPad that outline the limitations.

Will there be changes to a Keynote for Mac document that I import?

In many cases, you will see no difference when a document is imported and converted to the Keynote for iPad optimized file format. During the import process, Keynote creates a copy of the imported document and retains the original. After the import process, changes made to the content or document layout are listed for review by the user.

There are some considerations when importing documents:

- Recorded or Embedded audio is not imported from Keynote presentations. - Grouped objects are ungrouped. Styles, order, and location are retained. - Presenter Notes and Comments are not imported. - 3D charts are converted to 2D charts. Chart data is retained and editable.

Will there be changes to a Pages for Mac document that I import?

In many cases, you will see no difference when a document is imported and converted to Pages for iPad’s optimized file format. During the import process, Pages creates a copy of the imported document and retains the original. After the import process, changes made to the content or document layout are listed for review.

There are some considerations when importing documents:

- Footnotes and Endnotes are not imported. - Documents using page layout are converted to word processing with text wrap. Linked text boxes are separated, retaining text, styles, and placement. - 3D charts are converted to 2D charts. Chart data is retained and editable. - Changes tracked in an imported document are accepted and comments are not imported. - Tables of Content are converted to regular text. - Grouped objects are ungrouped. Styles, order, and location are retained. - Tables that span more than one page are split into separate one-page tables. - All links other than weblinks are removed.

The problem is that is documents are synced to the iPad and then synced back to a Mac, the formatting and information is lost. That's bad news for anyone who doesn't have a backup, and still very annoying for users who have put in the time editing documents on the iPad.

Apple isn't making these limitations clear to potential buyers, and there's no mention of this made on the iPad or iWorks propaganda pages. Here's another support forum post from a user who only stumbled upon the limitations on the forum:

What is also somewhat disappointing is that Apple does not mention these limitations of iWork upfront, on the iWork for iPad page. I came upon the information accidently when I was looking at this board. I think quite a few people may be in for a rude shock when they inadvertently lose significant parts of important documents on the iPad.

The problem here is that Apple is attempting to blur the lines between the desktop/notebook ecosystem and the iPad by releasing the iWorks apps for the iPad, but the company is being disingenuous in obfuscating the limitations of the mobile app, especially when those limitations can actually cause irrevocable changes to those documents. Much in the same way as Apple is glossing over the iPad's lack of Flash support for web browsing (and almost trying to make out that the omission is a "feature"), Apple is giving the impression of full iWorks support without actually delivering that.