Apple iWork '08
- Apple iWork '08's three applications have excellent comment and mark-up support; the ability to open documents saved in the native Open XML format used by Office 2007 for Windows; Page Layout mode gives consumers much of the capability of professional tools like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress at a fraction of their cost; Apple Keynote '08 gives you the ability to record a voice track for a presentation
- We would have preferred to see Apple include some layout-only, contentless templates for Numbers and Pages in Apple iWork '08; clumsy way of creating a layout in Word Processing mode that you can make in Page Layout
Users comfortable with Microsoft Office may find it takes time to get used to Apple iWork '08. Advanced Word and Excel users, especially those who rely on specialised features and functions, will probably find Apple Pages '08 and Apple Numbers '08 to be limited. If you do rely on specific functions in Microsoft Excel or features in any of the Microsoft Office applications that are even slightly outside the more general types of usage, you will probably want to download the Apple iWork '08 30-day trial to ensure that the tools you need are there before buying. And, to be sure, the process of having to export files when interacting with Microsoft Office users could get old quickly if you have to do that regularly. But overall, Apple iWork '08 is beautifully designed -- a compelling product and great value for consumers and small business alike. It brings tons of innovation over previous versions of Apple iWork as well as many office suites on the market. And it turns typical office tasks and documents into creative outlets. That it offers all that it does for $99 is, frankly, hard to believe.
Price$ 99.00 (AUD)
Apple Pages '08
When asked about how previous versions of Apple Pages compared with Word, we would often say that it was more like a combination of Word and Publisher -- a hybrid word processor and layout tool. This was one of the things that you either loved or hated about the program. One of the best things Apple did with this new release of Apple iWork '08 was to give Apple Pages '08 two distinct modes: one for word processing and one for layout, with separate templates for each mode.
Apple iWork '08's separation of these features makes it much easier to use Apple Pages '08 for straight word processing. You can open a template and just start typing without worrying about placement (either on a single page or multiple pages), but you still have the option of placing graphics and manipulating text boxes if you want. If you really want to lay out a brochure or newsletter, however, where control of text positioning and flow between specific text boxes across multiple pages is critical, Page Layout mode is a better choice. You can create any layout in Word Processing mode that you can make in Page Layout mode -- it's just clumsier.
Page Layout mode in fact gives consumers much of the capability of professional tools like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress at a fraction of their cost. It doesn't offer the final printing and prepress options or the typographic control of a pro tool, but those aren't things needed by home users or even many small businesses. And for those who do or will need professional tools, Apple Pages '08 makes a good steppingstone because it relies on the same basic methods as the more expensive applications. Apple iWork '08's version of Pages doesn't have more layout features than Apple Pages '06 had, but some have been made easier to use, and separating them from the bare writing tools makes them seem more distinct and professional.
The only problem with this separation of working methods is that you cannot switch between them. If you create a word processing document because you want to focus on text content but later decide you want to lay it out as a booklet, you can't simply switch modes to get full access to the Page Layout mode's features. Instead, you need to create a new Page Layout document and then copy and paste your content into text boxes and rearrange or link them to flow your text. Choosing which mode to use could also be confusing to new users of Apple iWork '08.
Beyond the new separation of tasks, Apple Pages '08 has gotten a few other useful new features in its Apple iWork '08 rendition. One of the ones we found the most exciting (mostly because we use the equivalent in Word almost constantly) is a Track Changes option. Anyone who collaborates using Word has probably used this feature even if they haven't always loved Microsoft's implementation of it.
Apple iWork '08's Apple Pages '08 implements tracking changes better than Word because it offers a variety of ways to display changes, including a browser panel that is considerably easier to use than the views included with Word. Anyone who has tried to decipher a Word document in which more than two people have made changes will immediately notice less eyestrain and confusion when using this feature in Apple Pages '08.
Even better, Apple iWork '08's Apple Pages '08 can not only track changes in its own documents but seamlessly track changes in and export changes to Word documents as well -- properly identifying the author(s) of the changes, too. In fact, Apple Pages '08 does a great job of working with Word, both when opening highly formatted Word documents and exporting them back to Word. Even Page Layout mode documents filled with style and format options retain almost all, if not all, of their look after export.
As powerful as Apple iWork '08's Apple Pages '08 is, long-time and heavy users of Word may find some features still not quite up to par. Word is more flexible at creating mail merges, for example: Apple Pages '08 can do mail merges but relies on contacts stored in the Mac OS X Address Book application or as vCard files. While Apple Pages '08 can create tables, it can't convert existing text to a table. And Apple Pages '08 can format text to look like an outline, but it can't make a functional collapsible outline the way Word can. If your work depends on any of those features (or similar specialised tools), you'll have to find workarounds or keep Word around.
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