Editorial: iWork Migration


There is an inexorably long and slow migration taking place on my Mac, and it’s not pretty. What may be surprising is that this migration started back in November 2010, nearly a year ago. The migration that I’m talking about is the gradual and almost imperceptible creeping of iWork icons making their way off my dock and back into the Applications folder, where they sit, day after day, just waiting for an excuse to be clicked. It’s a depressing truth.

What happened to initiate this sad exodus of core Apple software from its elevated viewpoint on the bottom of my screen back to the sad, multi-click-launch world of non-essential software? Well, back in October 2010, Microsoft decided to release MS Office 2011 for Mac. Unfortunately, and as much as some people would like me to say otherwise, the software is pretty decent. Very decent, in fact, to the point where, if it’s a choice of clicking the ‘W’ or the ‘Inkwell’, I’m going to go for the ‘W’.  After all, as Tiger has said, ‘a W is a W’.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to use iWork. I really do. It’s on my iPhone and iPad, I bought the Apple VGA adapter for the sole reason that I could run my Keynote presentations off my iPad rather than my Air (great fun by the way), and I love the new integration with iCloud that Apple has implemented in the iOS versions of the iWork software. However, when I wrote this piece on Dropbox a few days ago, I obviously had my head up my ass when I was talking about what iWork for Mac could actually do.  I was, more likely, confusing it with what I wanted it to do.

The sad truth is that, while Apple has delivered incremental updates to iWork, they have been insignificant compared to the dramatic shift that MS made when upgrading Office 2008 for Mac to the 2011 edition.  Yes, iWork has full screen capability and support for Versions etc. but is that really that awesome.  Is that really a fundamental change? Wouldn’t you prefer it if you didn’t have to upload stuff manually to the iCloud web interface so that you could access it on your iOS device?  Wouldn’t it be better if the syncing happened behind the scenes rather than after 20 clicks with your mouse?

Just a thought.

iWork ’11 has been a long time coming.  Of course, now it’s more likely to be iWork ’12 than iWork ’11 (Hans Dorsch is kicking himself right now) so I guess Amazon will have to stop running those iWork ’11 adverts. But now that we have iCloud, with one of it’s killer features being touted as iWork file syncing, don’t we actually need this on the Mac?

A job advertisement for an iWork User Interface engineer appeared on the Apple website in July of this year so I’m not holding out hope for a major iWork release in the near future.  I guess iWork ’09 is just gonna have to stay in that Applications folder a little while longer.

i Work On It…

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  • Y-Guy

    I hate using bloated Microsoft Word and other Office applications at work and bought my wife iWorks for her home iMac,  hoping it would be intuitively different. It’s different but not intuitively. It looks like the choice is bloated Microsoft Word or clunky,  hard-to-use Page. I ended up buying Office for MAC. I wish the iWork reviews I read beforehand were not so kind to MAC software developers. Page feels like a slimmed down version of Framemaker, and I hate Framemaker. Hard to believe Apple software could be worse than BOTH Adobe or Microsoft! Will there ever be a Word Perfect for MAC?

  • Anonymous

    The same process concerning the use and the locations of my iWork icons is happening to me as well. The point however is not only the comfortable (or not) syncing. There is a way to sync already and if you really need it, it can be accomplished without any big problem. I would rather address the attention to the fact that an editor like pages is appropriate to accomplish a very limited number of tasks. For example, you can’t write any professional book with that program (while for years this seemed to be one of Apple’s goals). You have a too inflexible connection to bibliography databases (such as endnote), a very crappy Math-editor and apart from the basic TOC (Table of Contents), no indexing function at all (for instance names, places, subjects). You also cannot realize any internal refs in the proper sense of the word. These and other basic features (caption functions, image indexing etc.) are missing. The mac users who need a real editor and not a joke are still thinking of the golden age of FrameMaker for Mac, which has not been replaced yet. At the moment, the only real alternative is using LaTex (or better XML LaTex), which means no excitement during the production, a considerable loss concerning the aesthetic of the final product, but a full functionality while editing and a full WEB integration, if this sort of output is needed. I am a passionate Pages user and I really believe in this product, but also a person who needs a professional editor. With this Pages version, the two aspects cannot be conveyed together. That’s all.

  • Prof. Peabody

    I totally disagree on the Office love-fest.  It’s a poorly designed piece of crap and always has been.

    I’m not sure what you are even talking about really though because you say it beats iWork and then lament the iWork syncing feature.  Are you actually arguing that it has better cloud syncing, and that this alone is enough to make it a “great” product and iWork a “bad” one?  That seems to be a strange and almost unsupportable argument.  

    Also, for the record, you can sync iWork documents on your Mac with the cloud.  They just aren’t conveniently placed or anything.  Given that we all know that an iLife update is coming soon however, I’m betting that this one flaw will be remedied in that update.

  • Garyb513

    While I basically agree with you, I would like to point out that If it were not for iWork would Microsoft have worked so hard to make Office for the Mac 2011 as good as it is? Competition is great and I hope that Apple responds with some amazing upgrades to iWork. I too am getting a little impatient with Apple’ s slow progress on iWorks for the Mac.

    My guess is that the iOS versions have the development priority right now.

  • sd

    I agree…it is very depressing…with all the hype around iCloud, how is it that everything but Docs sync automatically????  It’s inconceivable to me.  As far as Docs go, iCloud is barely a step above iDisk!