Apple could be on the verge of releasing a major update to iWork for OS X, perhaps even releasing iWork’12, in the coming weeks, particularly in the context of the impending iWork.com shutdown. The company recently issued a warning to users of the iWork.com beta site offering a reminder that the iWork.com Beta will be discontinued on July 31st 2012. The service is being shut down due to the fact that iCloud is now predominantly responsible for online storage and syncing iWork files across multiple devices. As a result, iWork for OS X devices is going to require two major changes in the coming weeks to ensure full integration with iCloud.
The first change is actually relatively straightforward at first glance, but becomes more complicated if you look at it closely. If you look at the iWork suite of programs on Mac OS X, in pride of place, in the very center of the menu bar, there is a ‘Share’ button. If you hit this button then you will be invited to share your document, spreadsheet or presentation on the iWork.com Beta site. Obviously, with the site being shut down, the Share functionality for iWork apps will have to be revamped, but it will have to be revamped in such a way that it takes into account iCloud document storage and, given the recent precedent set in iOS, likely integration of Facebook and Twitter.
The second major change relates to the transfer of files between devices. Currently, there is seamless syncing of files between iOS devices and the iCloud service, including the iCloud web interface. However, in order to get an iWork document stored into iCloud on to a Mac, users have to manually download the file from the iCloud web interface, which is an extraordinarily clunky method of doing things. Apple will have to release an update to iWork which allows seamless syncing of documents, through iCloud, to the individual iWork apps on OS X. Notably, at WWDC, Apple stated that automatic syncing of documents would be coming to Mountain Lion through ‘Documents in the Cloud’.
How Apple will implement this change is unclear, but the document browser will likely look pretty much like the file chooser option found in iWork for iOS devices. How Apple will implement document sharing in iWork through iCloud is an interesting issue.
With iWork last receiving a major version update in January 2009, the software is long overdue for a major new release, likely exclusively distributed through the Mac App Store. Perhaps the shutdown of the iWork.com Beta and the launch of Mountain Lion at the end of July will be just the start.