Apple boosts iOS iWork suite's Office doc compatibility

Pre-empts Microsoft, which will reportedly ship native iOS Office apps in early '13

Apple yesterday updated its iWork suite -- Pages, Numbers and Keynote -- for the iPad and iPhone, beefing up compatibility with Microsoft's Office.

The Cupertino, Calif. company may be trying to get the jump on Microsoft, which is expected to ship iOS native apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint early next year.

The new versions of iWork for iOS feature improved compatibility with Office, Microsoft's leading business suite that rumors have long claimed will eventually make it to the iPad and iPhone as native applications.

Apple has posted long lists of the Office compatibility changes in iWork to its website. The Pages word processor is analogous to Microsoft Word, while Numbers and Keynote are Apple's answers to Microsoft's Excel and PowerPoint, respectively.

Pages also sports a change-tracking feature for the first time, while Numbers now lets users hide columns and rows. And Keynote features new printing options to put presenter notes on paper.

Existing owners of the apps receive the upgrades for free; new users pay $9.99 for each of the three, which must be purchased separately. Apple does not offer a discounted bundle.

Apple also updated Pages, Numbers and Keynote on OS X, but the changes were limited to support for their new iOS siblings. Those applications cost $19.99 each, although the minor upgrades are free to current users.

Pages on iOS now tracks changes to documents.

iWork was last overhauled in 2009 -- although an update last summer added support for Retina-style displays in some of the MacBook Pro laptops -- sparking speculation that Apple has put the desktop suite on hold.

Although Pages is No. 4 on the iOS App Store's list of paid apps -- Keynote and Numbers are Nos. 12 and 17 -- and the three apps are all in the Top 5 in the OS X-only Mac App Store, they've long been seen as poor substitutes for the real thing, which for virtually every business, is Microsoft Office.

Talk of Microsoft bringing Office to iOS, particularly the iPad, has swirled since Apple launched its first tablet in 2010. The rumors picked up momentum this year, and although Microsoft has not clarified its plans, this fall the firm's Czech arm said native iOS and Android apps would ship in the first quarter of 2013. Microsoft quickly disavowed the announcement, however, calling it "not accurate."

Last month, The Verge, citing unnamed sources, reported that Microsoft would release iOS apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint in late February or early March 2013, followed in May by similar software for Android.

The free apps will purportedly offer view-only capabilities; to enable editing and other features customers will have to link the Office apps to Office 365, the subscription service Microsoft plans to kick off in early 2013.

Pages, Numbers and Keynote updates can be retrieved from the iOS App Store and the OS X Mac App Store.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile apps in Computerworld's Mobile Apps Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags mobileMicrosoftAppleiosapplicationstelecommunicationmobile appsMobile OSes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?