PCWorld reviews Apple’s Numbers for iPad: Quite capable, greatly enhances iPad’s business potential

“I have been putting the iWork for iPad apps–the rough equivalent of the core Microsoft Office productivity suite–to the test,” Tony Bradley reports for PC World. “The spreadsheet is one of the de facto business productivity applications, so taking a closer look at how Numbers stacks up against Microsoft Excel, or at least how it works with Microsoft Excel seems like a fair barometer for measuring the business potential of the iPad.”

“Numbers is quite capable. For someone used to working with Microsoft Excel, or working with spreadsheet software using a mouse and keyboard, Numbers will take some getting used to. But, the built-in templates are nice for many quick tasks you might want to accomplish with a spreadsheet, and the functionality is there to do more if you want to dive deeper,” Bradley reports. “That said, Numbers is not a replacement for Microsoft Excel–especially not for hardcore spreadsheet users.”

Bradley reports, “The bottom line, though, is that Numbers will serve as a very capable proxy for Excel for mobile business professionals on the go. Simply forming the habit of storing data in the cloud where it can be accessed no matter where you are greatly enhances the business potential of the iPad.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. So like who’s keeping the big M from writing this app? That’s where they should be. Maybe they’ll wake up and figure out what their core business is. Not
    You know if they just started from scratch and rewrote a better OS, maintained support for the old for a while, they could be back in business. I’ll bet even the chair knows it.

  2. This is not so much about Numbers not being a replacement for Microsoft Excel – even for hardcore spreadsheet users, and more about evolving the way we look at, use, and interact with the data that we process through spreadsheet-type applications.

    Numbers for iPad does, indeed, have the potential to replace Excel as the de facto standard of spreadsheet software not by mirroring Excel’s features and behavior, but through a paradigm shift in how we work with data.

  3. Too many missing functions in Numbers to ever be considered an Excel replacement.

    That said, there’s no reason why Numbers can’t grow that functionality over time, but doesn’t seem like apple will go there. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”hmmm” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Numbers on the iPad is nice, and the more I use it the easier it becomes. But in all reality, it needs to have an export or email in Excel format to be really usable in an Office corporate environment.

  5. The vast majority of the hardcore Excel users that truly need functions not, in some way, available in Numbers all work in an enterprise doing enterprise-scale things. Even with that said, most of them can use Numbers to view their handiwork. Numbers was really not aimed at those users in any case.
    If you are a SOHO user, you just may be able to fit your needs into this framework. Just like you can do the same with Pages. No such excuses need be made for Keynote, unless you are one of those jerks looking for an excuse to prove your case. The situation will shift when iWork.com comes out of Beta to offer features MS Office can’t currently match.

  6. I agree that Numbers for iPad is nice but needs Excel export and better import functions. Having to move files to iTunes to sync them or store them in the cloud for access is awkward. This is also true for the other iWord/iPad apps.

    Keynote for iPad is much less satisfactory. Too many transitions and other functions aren’t implemented. I expected to be able to import Keynote files prepared on my MBP and edit or show them from my iPad but they are a mess. Some pictures don’t show up and many transitions are missing. A BIG disappointment.

  7. Like with almost any other software, there are novice light users and expert power users. Their level of knowledge of the software and extent of usage being a reflection of the work they do.

    Numbers is perfect for the former (the masses) and Excel for the latter (the specialist minority).

    It’s the users that sit in the grey area between these two extremes who will struggle.

    Having found that the recent maintenance release of MS Office is unstable (frequent delays and crashes); completely switched to using Keynote and part way there with Pages; and in anticipation of buying an iPad when it becomes available in Australia, I have been using Numbers more frequently.

    But I have run into a snag: I have an Excel worksheet containing a table of data from which three data sets (x, y & z) are charted in a bubble chart. I switched to Numbers only to find that bubble charts are not available. So I am resentfully stuck with using Excel.

    I can only hope Apple listen to their feedback and build these features into future releases…

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Apple have the makings of an excellent application. Who else would think outside the box (we challenge the status quo…) and create a canvas with cell-window frames to break the limitations of living within just the one cell window called a spreadsheet?

    Apple will invade businesses and iWork is the tool to make this happen. We don’t need MS Crap on an iPad left alone a Mac.

  8. iWork for iPad is a good 1.0 release, but definitely has areas in which it can improve — getting files in and out, font warnings, unmerged cells, missing transitions (in Keynote), etc., but we all have to start somewhere, and this is a good start.

  9. @schmluss

    “But in all reality, it needs to have an export or email in Excel format to be really usable in an Office corporate environment.”

    The desktop version has an email as Excel attachment feature. Is that missing in the iPad version?

  10. @Ting – There’s a good chance you’ll never see a bubble chart function in Numbers, for much the same reason you won’t see Flash on an iPad. They both just add suckiness. Bubble charts fall in that realm “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

  11. @Another IT Guy…,
    Oh, come ON–do you honestly think that Apple won’t improve file management on the iPad, probably even later this year?!?!
    The current file management–especially file TRANSFER–system has all the hallmarks of a half-baked v1.0 system that will be replaced in fairly short order.
    Anyone familiar with the way Apple operates knows Apple will make substantial improvements in this area soon. In fact, a substantial cloud/iWork.com/MobileMe upgrade designed especially for iPad users is likely before the summer is over. That will be just the beginning.
    Think about the iPhone software and ecosystem at launch, and what it became within just 1-2 years. iPad will see at least a similar ramp up in functionality.

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