Microsoft Office is an industry standard and a practical requirement for people that need to exchange office documents back and forth. But I tend to launch Keynote, Pages or Numbers when I'm creating a new document for me. Although I've done several tours with Office (who hasn't) I prefer iWork for most tasks and Keynote is hands-down a better application than PowerPoint.
The problem is that Apple's last major update of its venerable office suite was almost three years ago and it's starting to show its age. Here's a breakdown of the major iWork releases since it was announced in 2005:
January 11, 2005 -- iWork '05
January 10, 2006 –- iWork '06
August 7, 2007 -- iWork '08
January 6, 2009 -- iWork '09
Although Apple is still promoting '09 versions of software on its website...
... it has (wisely) dropped the '09 designation from the versions being sold on the Mac App Store:
Many people (including myself) thought that Apple would release iWork '12 at its Let's Talk iPhone event on October 4, but it didn't come to pass. Apple instead released the iPhone 4S, iOS 5, and iCloud - nothing to sneeze at, mind you. I was almost certain that Apple would release iWork '12 alongside iOS 5. It made total sense -- at least to me.
Instead of releasing iWork '12, Apple decided to release incremental updates to the suite, mostly to support new OS innovations.
On July 20 Apple released updates to iWork desktop apps adding OS X Lion features like full screen, resume, auto save and versions.
On October 12 Apple updated Keynote, Pages and Numbers for iOS to version 1.5, adding support for iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud feature. The updates allow users to automatically store presentations, spreadsheets and word processing files in iCloud and keep them synced among multiple iOS devices.
While iWork for iOS got Documents in the Cloud support, unfortunately the desktop versions didn't follow suit. This necessitates the following workflow if you want to transfer a Pages document from your iPhone to your Mac (for example):
Pages app > documents screen
Touch Edit (icons start to shake)
Touch Share icon
Oddly you must send an email notification (even if sharing to yourself) or it won't upload
Visit iWork.com from a browser on your Mac, log in
Download the shared file (options include Pages, PDF or Word format)
Open it in Pages for Mac OS
Once you've got the document on your Mac, there's no way to upload it to iWork.com. The only way to get the document back on your iPhone is to email it to yourself and select "Open with Pages" on your iOS device.
Obtuse, to say the least.
So where, oh where, is iWork '12?
Originally iCloud was believed to be holding it up, but Apple released iCloud on October 4, so that's not it.
A theory being floated on the Apple discussion boards is that iWork '11 was being re-written to be 64-bit native and Apple "ran into some significant issues with existing 64-bit-able hardware base" so they're downgrading it to 32-bit.
One of my favorite rumors is that iWork '12 will come with a Final Cut Pro X-style reboot. It apparently started when AppleBitch discovered an Apple job opening for a Senior User Interface Designer that would "rework the iWork suite on both Mac and iOS devices."
Whatever the reason, Apple needs to ship it soon. Seemless iCloud integration is practically a given but I'm sure that Apple has some other snazzy features up its sleeve, too.