Apple Continues To Flesh Out iWork Apps After Aggressively Culling Features

Apple has updated its iWork apps for iOS, Mac and iCloud beta with a bunch of improvements and additional sharing options today. There are a bunch of new features but one of the nicer ones is the addition of ‘read-only’ sharing of iWork documents.

Today’s update is pretty big, with changes rolling out to iOS, Mac and iCloud beta versions of Apple’s iWork apps in short succession. The additional features are certainly welcome, but there’s something to be gleaned here regarding Apple’s product design and development philosophy that gets lost in the shuffle quite a bit.

You may recall that when Apple launched the new versions of iWork for iOS and Mac last year they took a lot of flack for slicing the feature set down dramatically. Shortly after the release, I tried to explain what was happening. Apple felt it needed to reset the clock on iWork in order to build in cross-platform compatibility at a basic level and to get them out the door with the new iOS redesign in mind. I explained that it would then begin to build the features out again and would not abandon those who used iWork for…well…work.

That turned out to be accurate, as Apple essentially announced plans to start adding features back just a month or so later. Since then it has released several updates that add many features, including AppleScript support, back to iWork.

Anyhow, you may not like it — and many people really didn’t like iWork getting its minimalist hatchet job — but it’s the way Apple works: small teams shipping what works rather than every feature ever planned and, sometimes, pissing people off in order to build what they feel will be a better product in the end.

Of course, all of these updates come just days after Microsoft’s rollout of Office for iPad, and Apple’s competing apps are completely free to use. The $99 subscription fee appears to be appealing to many Office users, as the apps have climbed onto the top grossing charts as well as the top free charts. So there has to be some acknowledgement of one-upsmanship by Apple’s iWork team here. Still, whether someone buys an iPad and uses Pages for iPad, or buys an iPad and uses Word for iPad, Apple still sells an iPad — so it’s probably pretty happy either way.

Some of the highlights are listed below, but you can see all of the new stuff on Apple’s site here.

iWork on the Mac

  • Delete, duplicate, and reorder sections using the page navigator in Pages
  • Set margins and create headers and footers in print setup in Numbers
  • Enhanced presenter display options and new transitions including Droplet and Grid in Keynote

iWork for iOS

  • Improved support for bi-directional text in Pages
  • Progress indicator for calculations in Numbers
  • New remote feature lets you control slideshows on other devices in Keynote

iWork for iCloud beta

  • New “view only” setting lets you share documents you want others to view but not edit
  • Updated design in document editor
  • Open documents directly from iCloud Mail