Apple’s iWork ’13: Dumbed down or smart move?

“From bloggers to everyday users, almost everybody seems to have reacted to the release of the latest version of iWork with overwhelming negativity, and a general feeling that Apple is ‘dumbing down’ its apps to appeal to a broader audience,” Marco Tabini writes for Macworld.

“Judging from the amount of feedback that the new apps have received, the changes seem to affect just about everybody in some way,” Tabini writes. “It’s probably fair to say, however, that power users will suffer the most from the disappearance of many of iWork’s more advanced features—a situation that, of late, seems to repeat itself every time Apple comes out with a significant update to one of its apps.”

“Just about any piece of software Cupertino has released in the last few years, from operating systems to prosumer apps, has been driven by a deep-seated desire to simplify the way we do things,” Tabini writes. “Office suites like Microsoft Office and (in a lesser way) iWork have always struck me as odd pieces of technology: overly complicated if all you want to do is write a letter, and woefully inadequate if you need to perform very complicated tasks. This makes them perfect targets for Apple engineers and designers looking to shake things up.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple: Forthcoming iWork releases will reintroduce features, add new ones – November 6, 2013


      1. Good post. That information should help to quell some of the iWork hysteria. In addition, unlike with Final Cut X, Apple has left the previous version of iWork available to use during the transition period.

  1. I was at first a little put off by the changes, but I now can produce Keynote presentations faster and easier. I find it is MUCH easier to create on my iPad, and the common user interface is a delight. My MacBook Pro is getting even less use now.

    1. I’m still getting the workflow down on the new Keynote. A nice thing is that, if I ever need to use my old methods, the previous version is still in my Applications folder.

  2. I use Keynote for a mission critical part of my job. (And my Keynotes are not simple.) I updated to the latest version, and everything I need to do still works. The video export step has actually been streamlined for me.

    One data point.

  3. Smart move. But we’re not there yet. If I can get my fonts over to my iPad and iPhone, I can finally present to clients and write at home without carrying the old laptop. Would be great!

  4. Not a power user by any means, but I find the updates easier to use and less obtuse. I do like alignment guides in WP documents that I haven’t found in the new version yet.

  5. For years we’ve had people tell us we should dump Office, especially Word, and use iWork instead.

    So, many people switched to Pages to replace Word, and in many cases have been satisfied with the features Pages has.

    Then Apple “upgrades” Pages, removing many of the features people had come to depend on…features that helped break them away from Word.

    Apple, and some on this site, call that “progress”.

    1. The problem I have with these types of complaints is that iWork ’09 STILL WORKS!!! Keep using it if the new version has removed some critical features. There’s a reason it’s not deleted when you install the latest versions – Apple knows they removed features that some people might still need to use. Which probably means they have every intention of bringing them back at some point in time.

      “Progress” doesn’t always mean “added more features”, progress can also mean starting over so you can do things that just weren’t possible before. For instance, collaboration.

      Or how about a version that runs in a web browser and has feature parity with its native counterparts? In a few years, iCloud will prove to be Apple’s third biggest software platform. The APIs they’ve created are already more refined and advanced than anything Google or Microsoft have.

      1. So if GM started to manufacture 1954 Chevys again, you’d run right out and buy one? No power steering, brakes, no A/C, AM radio, and call it as good as a new Impala? I got a bridge to sell you.

        1. Don’t be stupid, your example is no way analogous…

          1. I didn’t have to run out and buy anything, it was a free upgrade.
          2. I still have the option of using iWork ’09 and all of its features.
          3. Software can easily be updated.
          4. It is an improvement over the old version, the new version allows them to add more / better features across all platforms.

      2. The problem with your reply is that many people only found out about the lost features by downloading the new version of Pages, opening an existing document, and finding that the new format prevents them from opening that document in the old Pages from that point forward.

        The documents were made useless by removing whatever elements were no longer supported, and changing the basic format so that the old Pages no longer recognized it.

        Plus, do you think Apple would be fixing it this quickly if these complaints weren’t so loud and so numerous?

        1. Well, they did provide a way to change the documents back if you did open the old file in the new iWorks, provided you did not change the document in the new iWorks.

          Quote from Apple:
          “Documents that you haven’t edited can be reverted to the iWork ’09 version by selecting File > Revert To.
          If you have edited the document and want to preserve the edits, you can save it as an iWork ’09 document by selecting File > Export To, then choosing Pages ’09, Numbers ’09, or Keynote ’09.”

          1. Partially correct, if I understand what I’ve read elsewhere.

            If you opened a document with no-longer supported features, such as transitions in your master Keynote slide, those transitions are gone no matter what you do.

      3. @Michael

        Exactly. I’ve been using both versions of Keynote. I’m learning the new one and using the old one when I’m in a hurry.

        Some of the re-design is definitely progress. Some changes removed functions I liked. As noted above, iWork ’13 is still a work in progress.

      1. That’s fine if you haven’t typed out anything yet and you’re also talking about the IOS version. I’m talking about the Mac version. As it is you have to click on Format, mouse to Font then Capitalization then All Caps – COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS AND STUPID!
        As much as I hate most things Micro$oft and am loathe to defend their products, at least Word has a dedicated button for doing this.

  6. My guess is that Apple planned to release a rewritten-from-the-ground-up iWork sporting a revamped interface and improved functionality. But after 4 years without releasing this new iWork, Apple needed to show that they were still committed to the product, so they released it in the state that it was, without big features like applescripting.
    Apple only accomplished the first goal: a new interface.
    IMHO they need to put back the “lost” functionality soon. I think an iWork ’14 is likely to be released. The development cycle shouldn’t be very long when you are improving an existing product, this was the case when iWork ’09 was released not long after iWork ’08

  7. One of the most important features that is now missing from Keynote is transition on the master slides. Without this, it is unusable to me. I have presentations that I give over and over. I regularly update and refresh them. I have at least one presentation that is 10 years old with over 200 slides. I just started a new presentation that will be over 1000 slides for a year long course I will teach. I do not want to start a project like this is I can’t be confident that the software will be supported for years to come.

    I think they should turnover the iWork 09 franchise to the folks at Filemaker. They now and understand the professional user.

  8. I think the re-working of iWork was obviously going to be incomplete when Apple wanted to release it in October. Thus, some features were left out.

    However, I think iWork will advance in the next six months or so and features will be added back in. The real changes are likely deep under the hood, and done so that iWork for iOS and iWork for OS X play much, much better with each other, including That is the true future of iWork, online collaboration with mobile apps that are just as powerful as desktop apps.

    The problem is it just wasn’t there yet, and so Apple released a slightly stripped-down set of apps for people to test drive.

  9. First glance it looked clean and showed promise. After using it for over a week. I believe you will be disappointed (if your a medium to heavy user).

    Our group will not move to this version (free is not worth the price you pay after using it)! Apple you are getting sloppy!

  10. There is a link to an Apple webpage in an earlier post in this discussion which explains why some features are not included, and which makes many of the following posts redundant.

    I still have office on my computer though i mostly use iWork. I like Pages and Numbers works well enough, but exchanging documents with lawyers who use MS Word with markups for changes is just a bridge too far for Pages. And financial spreadsheets that run over a page and require manual pagination have to be done in Excel (no pagination control in Numbers.)

    Anyway, Apple took the hit and completely rewrote the suite for 64bit and changed the file format. The link I referred to will tell you what’s coming in the next 6 months.

  11. “From bloggers to everyday users, almost everybody”

    Based on what survey? Based on posters of the vocal minority?
    Yes, the there is a minority of power users that need to stick to the previous version, but Marco’s story doesn’t say that. It says . . .

    “everyday users, almost everybody”

  12. IF Apple had informed users up front that the “upgrade” would remove features that were critical for many… and that opening up documents in the new iWork would strip out crucial elements – we are talking business owners who have lost entire elements of their letterhead for instance – that would be one thing. But they didn’t.

    There are numerous stories of businesses having to put in quite a lot of time and effort to restore documents that were flat out damaged. Educators with keynote presentations that are damaged with missing slides, elements, because iWork takes out anything that it doesn’t support. This is not trivial.

    iWork 2013 really needs to be offered as a separate program, maybe “iWork Lite” for those who really don’t need more than a slightly beefed up version of the iOS program.

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