“During [last week’s] iPad event, which largely played out just as the rumors foretold, Apple did do something unexpected: They unveiled a version of the word processing, spreadsheet and presentation suite iWork redesigned for the iPad’s 9.7-inch touchscreen. It’s easy to write off iWork’s inclusion as a minor perk only for business types only, but don’t. The suite’s fully-redesigned touch interfaces actually reveal more about Apple’s vision of the future of computing than any other element of their new tablet,” John Mahoney reports for Popular Science.

“I used each iWork app [during Apple’s hands-on session for the media after Steve Jobs’ presentation], and while I couldn’t spend enough time with them to come to a definitive conclusion, they definitely surprised me… each appeared more than capable of offering a similar, if not much improved experience, over their desktop counterparts,” Mahoney reports. “And for that, all credit is due to multitouch.”

“The apps, especially Keynote and Pages, function almost as light versions of far more advanced software like Adobe’s InDesign,” Mahoney reports. “PopSci’s art director probably won’t be ditching InDesign for an iPad any time soon, but having a large tablet of the future flat on a desktop could merge the benefits of working digitally with an interface that feels more like working with a pencil and paper.”

“This is significant. It’s the underlying concept behind all touchscreen interfaces–removing the mouse and pointer’s layer of abstraction to get us back to working with our hands. Most previous attempts at a more natural and expansive touch interface have been hampered by too small a screen or inelegant design,” Mahoney reports. “The iPad has neither.”

Mahoney reports, “And in choosing productivity apps as the first test case for these new interfaces, Apple is providing a familiar stepping stone into the world of interacting with nothing-but-touch in software we’ve been using for decades.”

Full article here.