Apple patent application details platform-independent word processor

“Just last week we presented a report about Apple advancing the design of a possible future Post-PC hybrid system,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“We also noted that it was Steve Jobs who made this term of ‘Post PC era’ extremely popular within the tech community,” Purcher reports. “A recent Forest Research related blog presented an interesting overview of what they felt the term Post-PC era really meant and this week a new patent application from Apple had a surprising revelation that they were working on a new platform-independent word processor application.”

Purcher reports, “Whether this will be represented by their already standing Pages App is not yet known but it would stand to reason that it would be. Apple’s little shocker also hinted that their platform independent code could go far beyond just word processing. This could be Apple’s new internet strategy that thrusts more of us into the next phase of what is now known as the Post-PC era.”

More info and Apple’s patent application illustrations in the full article here.


  1. Apple is going to rock techland if they get this out the door. There eye is on businesses and watch out Microsoft and Google! This is excellent news. It could have huge ramifications.

    1. I don’t think so. While Appe hardware sells in large numbers, their attempts at productivity software have largely failed and have made very little impact on the world. is used by virtually nobody, while the world use Google Docs instead. iDisk failed, only to be taken over by Dropbox. MobileMe Backup was discontinued, and people use Backblaze and Mozy and Crashplan instead. iPhoto is known by nobody outside of hardcore Apple users, whereas everyone else uses Picasa for syncing photos to all their devices. Apple should just focus on what they do best: making good hardware. And let everybody else devise the productivity software for it.

      1. iTunes is the rare example of Apple software succeeding, but only because it is required to support the wildly popular iPod/iPhone/iPad hardware. Apple’s software only succeeds when hardware is required to use it. As a further example of Apple’s failing software initiatives, the attempt to bring Safari to Windows failed as well… NOBODY on Windows uses Safari.

        1. re “NOBODY on Windows uses Safari”

          For your possible interest – not “nobody” but prrrretty close. On one client site with over 2 million “general public” visitors per year, Safari on Windows is 0.34% — half of Safari on Freedroid!

        2. “NOBODY on Windows uses Safari.”

          I do, and I highly doubt I’m the only one in the world.
          But then again, I’m not omniscient, as you seem to consider yourself to be. Of course, some people might simply consider you to be a blowhard.

        3. Get ready for Safari II baby with access to hot cloud apps that nobody will be able to match. Yap all you want. It’s a painful thought, I know. It’s okay, you’ll have some time to get over it.

      2. “iPhoto is know by nobody outside of hardcore Apple users…” Duh it’s only available on the Mac. Have you ever been in a brick and mortar Apple Store? PC users are falling over themselves to buy everything Mac and love Apple’s apps. But it’s nice to see that you’re shaken by this news. Picassa is typical Google Garbage. In the end you could jump up and down all you want to no avail. If Apple launches it, your theory will go down in flames. Ha!

        1. Google desktop apps, including Picasa, are absolute garbage, the worst part being the frequent and intrusive updater apps that pop up whenever they feel like and slow everything else to a crawl. Adobe’s updaters have also done this sometimes. Having a single updater (Apple’s) check for all updates at once is reason enough to use mostly Apple apps…

      3. You’re missing the point that office software is largely platform specific. Apple have demonstrated the capability to read many different app formats on the iOS and OSX platforms. I can view lots of docs sent via email even without having the apps on my phone or mac.
        An extension of this is to generate a productivity platform for iOS and make this workable for PCs, Macs, web-based alike. iWork is okay but it is still limited to Macs or iPads. If you could create and edit docs on the web or a PC then the utility would be even better.
        This fits in with the cloud based approach and would allow you to access files from anywhere.
        Who knows if this will work or even close to being deployed. I guess we will find out at WWDC.

      4. Don’t use, nor would I ever, google docs. Have no clue what picasa is.
        I use dropbox cause it’s free, but I also use iDisk, I don’t see problems with it.
        I assume the other stuff you mentioned is backup software, only one I recognize is mozy. I use time machine, and iDisk/dropbox.

        Apples software works great, except for some minor differences on how things work I don’t have problems using apple stuff compared to ms etc.

        Safari, I only use it on iOS. I run firefox everywhere else. Safari is my backup though. It’s ok, has sone issues for me but better than ie anyday.

        1. I’ve used Picasa before on the PC side of things. On a side by side comparison to iPhoto, you can see that Google has lifted many of the photo browsing and ‘event-type’ file arrangement from iPhoto. That’s about as close to iPhoto as it gets.

          In terms of usabilty Picasa is like that Kia you never wanted to own but at a pinch would use because it’s free. The user interface is gimped and browsing a large collection of photos is difficult due to the lack of an ability to create albums and folders. Drag & drop is horrible but whether that’s because of inbuilt limitations or Windows’ inherent lack of drag & drop functionality is hard to say.

          My conclusion? If you are a fan of Google and like free stuff by all means use Picasa as it’s superior to the native Windows photo handling client. Otherwise if you’re already a Mac owner, hot irons pressed against flesh couldn’t induce you to use Picasa.

      5. I agree with you about (isn’t it still in beta?). However, iPhoto and iMovie are two very powerful tools that have convinced many people to go with a Mac. They are simply unmatched in features, ease of use and price.

      6. I disagree, and wonder if you have really made an honest effort to try the software. Those who do, like I, enjoy and often prefer it. I enjoy Keynote, Pages, iPhoto, iTunes, the Mail apps.

        1. And though I have used both Safari and Firefox extensively, and Internet Explorer occasionally on the PC, I prefer Safari…it’s a great browser.

  2. Microsoft are looking increasingly shaky on almost every front, yet they still seem oblivious of the threat, or are impotent to defend their position. When the tipping point occurs they will be seriously in danger of real collapse considering the nature of their company which is totally reliant on their business software. Surely Ballmer can’t last much longer.

    1. Steve Balmer is the greatest trojan asset that Apple has inside the fortress, Microsoft. Apple does not own or pay Balmer’s salary but Apple has free reign over what Microsoft does. Steve Jobs understands the mindset of Microsoft, and that is why Apple was able to run rings around Microsoft by capitalizing on Microsoft’s weaknesses. Apple also learns from Microsoft’s faux pas in innovation and move clear from involving in many potential shipwrecks. Contrast Apple from Google. Google is trying very hard to imitate Microsoft and will be inheriting many of Microsoft’s bag of hurts.

  3. MacBill, you have it wrong. Pages is used by millions of iPad users and it has a large following on Macs. Word has always had a lock on the Mac Platform, but MS is coming apart at the seams. I no longer use Word and open all word documents seamlessly in Pages. As a productivity suite, iWork has excellent individual components without the bloat. Apple’s strategy is clearly one of getting Pages as only good Word processor on iPad, sell millions at cheap price. Move it to the Cloud and make it slick and useful for 90% of what Businesses need then reinvent Cloud productivity software.

    1. I use Pages & Numbers on a daily basis and much prefer it to their MS Office counterparts. The UI has a clean look and more importantly isn’t cluttered by that bastard child of usability, Ribbons.

      I was confronted by Office 2010 once and it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to create bold fonts, italicize, and make simple changes to the document. After 30 minutes of staring at the screen blankly thinking where had my productivity disappeared to, I resorted to reformatting the document in Office 2003 and was finally able to finish it in another PC.

      Microsoft tends to create layers upon layers of complexity without thinking of the benefits of user friendliness. The only reason why they do that is if they released the same copy of Office every 2-3 years nobody would ever upgrade. It’s a scam of enormous proportions.

    2. Pages is actually a great little program. I don’t see how anyone could put it down unless they’re determined to badmouth anything that comes from Apple.

      1. Pages is good, Libre Office is better, and Bean is the easiest, best stripped-down word processor there is. Bean reminds me of the beautiful WordPerfect 3.5 for Mac in its uncluttered, unpretentious usability. Plus it’s free. Since I don’t compose multi-layered spreadsheets embedded in a gif inside a frame, or whatever, I use Bean. Sometimes CeltX for novel writing, or Jer’s Novel Writer. Mellel is good, and MarinerWrite is excellent (though a little feature heavy). There are a lot of Mac options out there, all of which surpass Word.

          1. WriteNow was written in 68000 assembly language.
            Granted, with an emulator it would run about as fast as it did on the original Mac 512K, but it would be pathetically slow compared with other word processors these days. Given that speed was one of it’s big attributes back then, that would be a failure.

            As for rewriting it, well, SJ now has Pages.

  4. I doubt that this will be out at WWDC. It’s a patent application, so there’s a little ways to go. Though sometimes Apple is known to introduce stuff before the patent ever shows up, so who knows. I work in a PC and Mac environment so it would be nice to have a simple word processor that’s web based. I don’t like anything Google except search.

  5. I use Pages for most things, I do also have MS Office 2011 and neither love nor hate the ribbon bar interface, but how I long for Word Perfect. If Corel would release a new version of WP for Mac OSX and iOS, Microsoft would have a major problem on its hands.

  6. I’ve hated word for years, and pages is fine to use. But nobody beats MS Excel. To hell with Numbers (iPad or Mac), Open Office or Google docs spreadsheet. Excel is King.

    1. Agreed. I use Pages over Word now, and PowerPoint still doesn’t come close to Keynote, but Numbers is terrible. Excel is the only reason Office 2011 stays on my Macs.

      I really hope that Apple makes some major improvements to Numbers in the future so I can be done with Office for good.

  7. You have to be an old Mac hand to remember, but this sounds a bit like OpenDoc, a mostly still-born tech that Apple was developing in the late 1980s and early 90s. It was intended to be cross-platform and its “components” could be many things – word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program, etc. There was a single version of ClarisWorks that had some OpenDoc tech in it, but otherwise it was one of those ideas that ultimately went nowhere.

  8. As a senior Apple product manager, I’d just like to tell all of you to be patient…we’re working on some good stuff that we think you’ll really like!

  9. @ Ralph. OpenDoc was a great idea and interesting that you brought that up. It was way ahead of its time and should, in some form, be brought back for the internet age. Good point Ralph.

  10. An Apple cross platform version of Google Docs with web app versions of Pages, Keynote and (blah) Numbers with the polish of the MobileMe apps would be a killer app. I could see many people taking a serious look at such an offering.

    Google Docs is serviceable for those who want to use cloud apps, but it is very stripped down. If Apple can come up with a true desktop class word processor that is a web app, it could be a serious win for Apple in the enterprise as a great trojan horse app.

  11. Dear Anti-Apple trolls,

    Since 1997 the only areas where Apple hasn’t stomped the rest of the industry bug-flat have been those areas where they haven’t focused. Consider that the only significant complaint about Apple products is the price.

    If Apple cut its prices for Macs down to the same price as comparably equipped PCs, Windows and its spawn would die quickly and quietly. Dell wouldn’t last another quarter.

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