Less than two years after its previous update, iWork now receives a bump that incrementally improves upon each program and adds an interesting online component, but there’s no new major addition.
As always, the emphasis is on creating slick-looking documents with little or no fuss. As opposed to Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac, you don’t get a suite overflowing with functions aimed mainly at business users, but a collection of tools that can be used at work as well as at home. Documents are meant to come out looking great, whether they are junior school projects, corporate presentations, or home finance and budget calculations.
Visual updates can be found in the themes, animations and object styles. There’s a new theme chooser, which is by default the first thing you see on launching any of the apps. Thumbnails of themes are sorted into categories such as Reports and Brochures in Pages, and Personal and Education in Numbers. Thumbnails can be resized with a slider, and swiping with the cursor changes their contents to show of themed elements such as tables, graphs and covering pages. Once you’ve chosen a template or a blank document, you’ll be working inside the application you launched.
The emphasis is on creating slick-looking documents with little or no fuss. As opposed to Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac, you don’t get a suite overflowing with functions aimed mainly at business users, but a collection of tools that can be used at work as well as at home.
The programs also benefit from a lot of effort to integrate them. It’s a lot easier to place Numbers charts and tables in Pages and Keynote. They now retain their values even if you change the formatting, and can be updated any time. You can create form letters in Pages and use the OS X Address Book or a Numbers database for mail merge functionality. Each app now lets you email documents through Mail with a new ‘Share’ menu entry. Files can be sent in their native formats, in equivalent MS Office formats, or as PDF files. And one of the most talked-about features is iWork.com, a subscription-based service (currently free to use while it’s in Beta) for sharing and collaborating on documents online.
The iWork word processor is now at version 4.0. Its most important tweaks come in the area of usability, rather than all-new features. The classic split between word processing and page layout modes is quite deemphasized, and you won’t know that there’s a difference unless you switch between templates.
The fullscreen mode lets you concentrate on the document at hand, but controls are still accessible if you dig deep.
A new full-screen mode lets you focus on the document at hand against a sheer black background (with a suitably Applesque fade-and-slide transition), without a single button or toolbar in view. This is especially neat if you’re not used to floating toolbars and Inspector palettes, not to mention OS X’s unwillingness to maximize windows.