Some users angry over Apple’s free iWork suite

“Apple users are allegedly upset because iWork is now free, some complain of missing features,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “They needn’t worry.”

“Apple’s initial focus (other than a complete rewrite of the applications) has been to deliver the features 80 percent of most actual users actually make use of.,” Evans writes. “Apple won’t discuss future products, but it seems to me that to understand Apple’s future plans here it’s probably instructional to look to the evolution of Final Cut Pro X (a new edition of which will ship alongside the new Mac Pro in December). That evolution saw steady, rapid introduction of new features to answer real world user need. The implication is that this is how things will evolve for iWork and iLife.”

“This is a starting point for a much larger future vision of cross device computing,” Evans writes. “The user interface is critical. A user of iWork on an iPhone will be able to use a Mac without figuring out how. Apple seems proud to have reduced the number of controls on iMovie from around 26 to around 11, while still retaining the most used features that made the software useful in the first place. These features will be expanded — however, unlike Microsoft’s Office user interface, Apple wants to ensure users on any of its platforms don’t need to take night classes to find the tools they need within its free solutions.”

Read more in the full article here.

91 Comments

    1. What instructions? Apple other than help is notorious for not providing manuals for their products.
      That said anyone know how to get the keyboard to show up in Numbers for iPad (consistently), this is driving me crazy.

      1. Wow. I hadn’t bothered to play with Numbers on the iPad yet (I seriously find Numbers useless, so unfortunately have been using Excel on my Macs), but you’re right! I opened a sheet (and tried creating a new one) and I cannot get the on-screen keyboard to come up no matter what I do – I can’t enter anything into a cell unless I paste something!

        Pages and Keynote work fine. Oops! This is a pretty major bug, I’d say…

          1. After restarting my iPad, that works. Thanks!

            Was it always this way? As I said, I don’t hardly ever use Numbers (on iOS or Mac) but I don’t remember having to double tap on the cells.

            Simple enough though for those who use it.

    2. My opinion of your comment is that you’re more than likely one of the ‘casual users’ that apple is targeting. A lot of the serious users like myself have adopted the platform for our businesses.

      The instructions you are referring to are online and I’ve been reading the damn instructions all day long. You know what I’ve found? That the new Pages and Numbers are not compatible with the files I’ve made in the previous versions. I run a small business of of these two products and the amount of time I’m going to have to spend updating all of my documents- which I use daily will be a huge time sync. I use over 25 different documents a day. I’d bet you weren’t even bothered to open one today.

  1. Honestly, why is this even posted on Macdaily?

    It seems lately like the stories are just a random posting of mismashed articles, mostly stating contradictory or unjustified premises.

    How can we get a shift back to the high standards that drew me to this site for the last five years?

  2. Some users? Very nice idea. Hundreds and hundreds are shocked, see AppStore reviews. Only the usual Northern Korean folks will say, that Apple did fine this time. The others will see that this is the worst update Apple ever made.

      1. German AppStore. So far 233 one-star-votes for Pages 5.0 with very detailed negative review. Way over 2/3 of the votes and reviews are one star, so very very negative. It is not that 80% would be positive, but closed to the opposite.

      2. Though not hundreds where I am, the Canadian appstore has 108 1-star reviews for the latest version of Pages, outnumbering all other ratings combined (100), i.e. over half the reviews are 1-star.

        For comparison, previous versions only had 35 1-stars, and 207 5 stars.

        Reviews are fine with Keynote (27 5-stars vs 10 1-stars), but Numbers has similar ratio to Pages (more than half are 1-stars). Numbers also has a very low review count, suggesting far fewer users on Numbers than Pages and Keynote.

        1. The lopsided rating is almost always misleading. In situations such as this one (radically new version), those who are unhappy with the change are significantly more likely to make their opinion known than those that are fine with it (the “silent majority” principle). Therefore, the fact that the single-star negative reviews outnumber the positive ones doesn’t really tell us much, other than that the update was a radical change. We simply can’t know, based on those reviews alone, if it was for better or for worse, due to the above-mentioned problem.

          If someone were to actually do a proper poll of a representative sample of iWork users, then we’d have a better picture. Surveys with self-selecting sample are pretty much useless for all intents and purposes.

          1. … so many one-star ratings for Pages and Numbers. I had downloaded them and had not noticed major problems. So I checked some out. Many were upset that “Recently Opened” was not the default! It’s right there in the drop-down menus, but you give a 1-* because it’s no longer the default? Claim it’s “broken”? How many trolls have been active?

          2. This seems to be the same as final cut x. Some features were lost. Yes, many users did not use those features, but many did. Of course the ones who didn’t use those lost features are happy with the new version! But when advanced features are lost forcing people to revert or switch to word, there is going to be a justified outcry.

            1. The argument here isn’t that the people who are complaining are wrong to complain, nor is it that the features that were lost were useless. The point is:

              1. The number of users who are missing the lost features and are now angry because of that (and must therefore find other solutions to their workflow) is rather small (possibly minuscule, negligible)

              2. The volume of their discontent (on various message boards) is grossly disproportionate to their actual share in the overall user base.

              iWork’s place in today’s computing industry is roughly the same as Apple Works (or MS Works) used to have fifteen years ago: this is a software package with a feature set that satisfies 90% of word processing needs.

              There are plenty of people who have MS Office on their PCs, and only use it to print signs such as “Keep this door closed!” (in Times New Roman, mind you…).

              All I’m saying is, there aren’t that many people who use Pages to lay out complex publications or documents; most people are served more than well with the limited set of tools it already has. Same for Numbers and Keynote. This will likely end up being the same hassle as with FCP X.

            2. I explained already what I was arguing.

              Self-selected surveys are meaningless, as they always grossly over-report complaints. This is a known fact, and it is fairly easy to understand why. If we look at the similar situations of before, we will notice how the actual number of those who are dissatisfied is always extremely low. This tends to be very much inline when it comes to Apple — very few Apple customers tend to be dissatisfied, but those who are make sure their voice is heard.

            3. The users who are most disrupted by Apple’s sudden change are likely to purchase several Macs at a time, such as for an office. Something like a word processor is a long-term investment. Professionals aren’t going to trust their software if it is here today and gone tomorrow.

              Then they end up with customers who want to make short documents about butterflies (see the web site) on iMacs that have the same functionality as iPads.

              This was a very bad move by Apple. They p*ssed customers, and made it clear that they don’t care that they disrupted other people’s business.

            4. Yup. I am NOT a power user. Somewhere in “medium” range. And Pages 5 is completely unusable for me. Text flow between text boxes GONE. Come on, Apple! This is, perhaps, one of the most fundamental page layout functions, ever since PageMaker 1.

              Trying to say, “It’s okay. Features will come back, like Final Cut” doesn’t justify the current crippling. Maybe they will. But how many? How long to wait? And the comparison with Final Cut — well, not all is rosy over there. Recent post by someone elsewhere…

              “The other popular narrative is that Apple has added the missing features back into FCP X. Also not true. I use FCP X every day, and I used Final Cut since 2001. Apple has gadded in SOME features, but I’d say 85% of the “pro” features that made it useable in a broadcast or film-editing environment are definitely missing, with no plan for return. Can’t use it for TV, can’t use it for film, so what “pro” environment are they ready for?

              Like I said, I use FCP X, and the answer is my market: corporate and web videos, but even then I’m severely hamstrung by missing features all the time. Anxious to see what it will do in .1, but most of my industry still uses FCP7, or went over to Avid and Premiere 3 years ago and never looked back.”

            5. Fair enough. Though the lopsided reviews help a user thinking about upgrading assess whether it is a good idea or not. If the reviews were accurately representative of the while user base that tool would be gone.

              Just a thought.

              Also, when they release the next point version, it usually starts a new tally.

  3. Seems to me, everyone who has commented on this so far has never used Pages or any of the other apps in iWork…….

    There is a huge difference between iWork ’09 and iWork 5.0. So many features have been removed that the usability has been severely affected.

  4. It’s hardly whining when features that you use regularly no longer work. For example, the media browser in Pages (and perhaps elsewhere) no longer provides access to Aperture which is where all my images reside. After a lot of experimentation I did find a workaround but it’s a pain and shouldn’t be necessary.

    1. They have definitely dumbed it down, and some of the features removed are definitely not things I would consider “power user” features.

      Here’s hoping they do begin to add features back as we go like they have done with Final Cut Pro X.

    2. The Apple fanbois never could use the “advanced” features and support every Apple decision no matter how bizarre or infuriating waste no time demonstrating what complete idiots they are. Instead of Apple challenging MS’s Office dominance by making iWork more functional and useable Apple had made iWork a crippled app. I would rather pay for an app that works that install a free piece of shit.

      1. … “challenge MS’s Office”, they would have brought forth a quite different package. Well over 90% of all Word or Excel users do not use more than a quarter of either packages features. The rest is bloat. Apple targeted that 90%, not the few who demand even more.
        You have three choices: a) decline to upgrade, b) switch to the Office product(s) of your preference, or c) upgrade and whine (or troll?). Given that the new Pages and Numbers both “work”, what else can I say? Some features are changed, BFD. Get over it or punish Apple by not buying their (working) product. Put your suggestions in the Suggestion Box like an adult. Pretend.

        1. Suppose I was switching my office over to Pages. I did five of the computers long ago, I have five more to go, but Pages 4.3 is suddenly gone. I also have more Macs on order, but now they won’t come with Pages 4.3. All of a sudden, without warning, Apple made hash of my business. I not only have to find a replacement word processor in a hurry, I have to convert four years worth of files. Otherwise I have a mishmash of documents in different formats.

          Now I have to use the suggestion box to submit a supplication for a feature that they deliberately deleted, but already exists on a version of the software they have arbitrarily chosen not to sell?

          And I’m supposed to trust them not to pull this trick again?

    3. Features that you use in the Keynite 5 app you bought DO still work AND you can continue to use that and delete Keynote 6.

      Just did some collaboration this weekend in Keynite on the web, though, and THAT was slick. I like the direction they’re headed.

  5. This reaction sounds very familiar to another reaction we’ve seen a few times.
    ‘Apple removes floppy drives from it’s computers.’
    ‘What? No CD drive??.’
    ‘Hey where’s my dial up modem?’
    ‘And my serial port for that matter!?’

    This is the software version of those actions as we move to the cloud. The features that are actually used will be added back in, but likely in a different implementation with easier to use functionality.

  6. No, I think it’s just some. I used heavy scripting in FCP7 and now there’s no scripting in FCPX. That totally screwed a couple of different workflows for me – and maybe 20-75 other people, maybe. Here’s an optimistic outlook: Apple is sneaking its way into the enterprise market place with ubiquitous, get-it-done-now tools that start out with the home user from whence the demand and expectation for the same tools encroaches into the workplace. I also agree that if the broader user group of this product suite, iWork grows, the feature set will grow in-kind.

    And Jonny, you’re welcome for the analogy with FCPX which I posted as a reply on this very website two days ago. Sheesh.

  7. Took me ages to get my head around the ‘new’ iMovie – until I realised that if I compromised on some tweaky bits, then I could just let it do the heavy lifting.

    Woosh! I’m now a happy user.

    I suspect the case will be true for iWork apps, but good in any case to have commonality across desk/lap/IOS.

    Let the whiners whinge.

  8. Yea thats why they don’t remove iWork ’09 after the upgrade
    nobody lost any functionality the original software is still there you can do what you used. The new version is about cross-platform and will be improved across ios, web and mac .

      1. … iCloud with the previous generation of both Pages and Numbers. This was something of a problem for my wife – the one who seldom checks to see where she is saving files to. She’d get in a situation with her iPad where she had no Internet access … oops!

    1. Yes, but this really was the wrong way to do things along the same lines as the Final Cut fiasco. You don’t take a product that runs on a PC that businesses rely on and dumb it down. You go the other way. Clearly there are things you can do with a mouse that you can’t do [easily] with a touch interface, but throwing out perfectly good spreadsheet functions that you already have code written for just to make things compatible is kinda silly. Why couldn’t those have just been added to the iOS version? Don’t even get me started on the new iBooks for Mac. That’s another one that’s going to hit the fan at some point.

    2. Pages 1.0 was advertised as both a word processing and page layout program. I don’t know how many people picked it over the years as a cleaner and more intuitive alternative to InDesign and Quark, but the number was significant. They did real work with the program and organized their businesses around it. Those folks cannot use Pages 5 because opening any of their existing files on their Macs, iDevices, or iCloud will scramble the formatting. Even simple newsletters and brochures use text boxes, and just opening irrevocably deletes the links. That is not a power user feature. I have been using it on Macs since 1985.

      Yes, we can keep using 4.3, but Apple has declared it EOL. That means that any hardware or software upgrade at any time may break the program and render its files unreadable. Since the file format is proprietary and Apple rightly defends its intellectual property, there is no prospect that any third-party software will ever be able to read our files, either. We therefore face the necessity of archiving literally thousands of files as uneditable PDFs and then rebuilding all of our active projects from scratch in a new program. We can gamble that Pages 5 or 6 will restore its page layout functions, despite the clear indications that Apple has chosen to move in another direction, positioning Pages as a collaborative word processor–a prettier Google Docs, rather than a more intuitive InDesign. If so, no long-term problem. But what if the Pages page layout users are being left behind like the iWeb users (which includes some of the same people)? Unless at least the basic functions are someday restored, we are just compounding our problem by continuing to produce documents in an obsolete (and someday unreadable) file format.

      Perhaps the most annoying feature of all this is the reaction that the affected users are getting from other Apple fans. I have personally been using linked text boxes to lay out documents on Macs since 1985. Being repeatedly called stupid, a whiner, or a Microsoft apologist because I have expressed displeasure at losing that ability is disappointing.

      1. “Pages 1.0 was advertised as both a word processing and page layout program.”

        And exactly why I started using it. It has been GREAT! And I have recommended Pages to many other business friends and clients.

        I can no longer recommend Pages. Version 5 is crippled. What use is collaboration if you can’t even flow text from one box to another? And saying, “Don’t complain; it will come back” is not an adequate answer. I will now have to make a point of WARNING all those people against upgrading.

      2. Exactly.

        Remember when Apple used to advertise (on its landing page) how businesses were using iWork apps for their business documentation?

        Haven’t seen that in quite a while. I wonder if there are even any similar business references at all on Apple site anymore?

        The changes made to FCP (and the resulting bruhaha) are understandable, but the iWork apps were not exactly known as feature-rich, bloated software. Quite the contrary, but they worked great for those who used them.

        Comparing Word (where 90% of the users probably only use 10% of the features) to Pages (where 90% of the users probably do use 90% of the features… because there aren’t that many to begin with) completely misses the point.

        These changes are an absolute disaster for long time iWork users in SOHO/independent/freelance/small business set-ups. You know… the kind of people who used to be known as the majority of Mac users.

  9. Whilst it is amazing that the new iWork suite is free, for many years we have been able to do some of the “power” tasks that we used to have to go to Office for.

    Mail Merge is one example. I now have to go back to Office for the first time in years.

    Another major change is that the page layout has been wrecked. Linked text boxes, page duplication and rearrangement. It is no longer an effective desktop publisher.

    An upgrade should not force users to move to a rival product.

    1. Take a look in your Applications folder. The previous version of your iWork application is still there. You can still use it. You were not forced to use a rival product.

      The new, free version does strip some power features, notably scripting. Don’t try to use if for mail merge. You can do “pretty” page layouts in the new version, but don’t use it if you need linked text boxes. The old version is still there.

      iOs devices have mobility advantages over Macs, but still can’t match the power features of well-equipped Macs. AppleScript, for example, hasn’t been implemented in iOS.

      Apple made the decision to make the iWork apps work consistently throughout its ecosystem, and to make them free to purchasers of new Macs (as well as free access to this version by everyone who had an older version installed).

      The new iWork apps will be used by many more people, and they will serve a wide range of needs. That’s the upside of Apple’s approach to the new iWork.

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