Infoworld reviews Apple’s iWork for iCloud: Elegant but limited

“Perhaps the most striking thing about iWork for iCloud is that unlike Office Online and the Google Drive suite, it has clearly been built as a whole from the ground up,” Woody Leonhard writes for Infoworld. “Office Online inherits its DNA from Microsoft Office, which itself grew in Frankenstein fashion over many years. The Google Apps resemble Office 2003 in an uncanny way; they, too, have odds and ends grafted on the side. Both remain saddled with old-fashioned interfaces, and even old-fashioned notions about what constitutes a document or a spreadsheet or a presentation. With iWork, Apple takes a fresh approach.”

“Apple used to sell iOS and OS X versions of the iWork apps, but as of September 2013, they’re free for those who buy new Apple mobile devices or computers, respectively. Also unlike Microsoft and Google, Apple notes that its online apps are currently in beta,” Leonhard writes. “More than any other suite in these reviews, iWork for iCloud has a very coherent, uniform design — the apps hang together well. Even the icons at the top of the window (see Figure 1) are identical in all three apps. They have a minimalist feel, but cover all of the bases.”

“Usability, in a word, is excellent, in no small part because the general approach is the same in all of the apps. That coherent design is reflected in the interface itself… Unlike the other two suites, iWork for iCloud will open password-protected Microsoft Office documents. Even Office Online won’t do that,” Leonhard writes. “But Apple’s file interface stinks. Of the three major browser-based office suites, Apple’s is the worst for handling files. The only simple way to get a file into iWork for iCloud is to drag and drop it into a specific app’s Web page. (You can directly access files created in iWork for Mac or iOS that are saved in iCloud there.) You can’t sync a folder on a Mac or PC with iWork for iCloud, as you can Office Online and Google Drive. And if there’s a way to set up folders from inside iWork for iCloud, I couldn’t find it. If you aren’t overly concerned about Office compatibility and you only work with a few documents, iWork for iCloud is an excellent choice. Experienced Office users will have to unlearn a lot they “know” about documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, but the clean iWork interface really shows through.”

Read more in the full article here.

13 Comments

  1. The idea of documents accessed from the program that made them is fine for Great Gran’ma, with her two dozen Christmas cards and letters. But even a very small business can easily have many tens of thousands of Pages documents. The interface is ridiculous.

    My work is classified by my clients. I need to access data according to client, and then to various sub-categories. What I used to write/format the data is irrelevant to identifying data. It makes as much sense as classifying books in a library by what printing press they were produced on.

  2. Let’s repeat the truth until Apple gets a clue:

    “…Apple’s file interface stinks. Of the three major browser-based office suites, Apple’s is the worst for handling files.”

    The limitations of the iCloud and iOS are real, and they are glaring. Even the fanboys here need this reality check.

    1. … works pretty well for individual users of “small” systems. Like the (really) old file systems used to work on 5.25″ floppies.
      Now, BEFORE you bite my head off … that file system does not work well for ME! An individual user of a larger system, a user who has multiple interests in his life.
      Would it be possible for Apple to build in the OPTION for a more complex, multi-level, file system for this who feel the NEED for one?

  3. Could not agree more.
    File system implementation in ios is horrible…. Next to non existent.

    It feels like i am working in a dark room. Feels like hide and seek..
    Feels so claustrophobic . Feels severely constrained!

    Hope they change this.. And give us a reasonable
    way of viewing , organizing and managing our files.
    The more mainstream ios becomes for enterprise and serious work the more people will be tortured by this limitation… And im afraid to admit, they will migrate to other platforms !

  4. I have been using iWork suite for 3 or 4 months on the Mac, iPad and iCloud (in my account). To upload a document, click the “Gear” icon and select upload. It took me a while to figure out how to create folders, which I did on my iPad. It works the same in iCloud and on the Mac: drag the icon of one doc, sheet or presentation on top of another, just like creating app icon folders.

    1. … found the “key” to a usable system.

      WHERE is (was?) this documented? I don’t recall seeing it. But. I’m getting old. (an easily believable, multi-purpose excuse)

  5. Please, Apple, give us a Finder in iOS.

    When you work with hundreds of files or utilize folder structures for organizing not only the actual document, but resources, reference files, proofs, revisions, approvals and all of the other components of a job, you need more than an application-based file interface.

    I’m not just talking about iWork docs, but in general. Anyone who works in a collaborative office environment benefits from a highly organized folder structure, naming conventions and workflow. Leave the Spotlight search and App-based interface for amateurs. Or at least give users the options they need. Provide the simple option for users who can get by with that and provide an advanced Finder type system for those who require a little more.

  6. It is clear by the comments above that Apple needs to address some perceived deficiencies with how iWork handles files. The way it’s set up is not working for some people.

    But this is NOT about file management. Anyone that thinks Apple is going to facilitate traditional file and folder management in iWork will be waiting a very very long time.

    As the article suggests, we (iOS/OSX users) have some unlearning to do. In the old way of doing things you had to spend time organizing your files and folders so you could find the files your were looking for. We did it because the operating systems we were using were modeled on real world physical filing systems. That analogy served its purpose when we were learning how to use computers. But it’s usefulness has long since passed and it does not take advantage of the computing power available today.

    Apple needs to expand it’s metadata tagging so that any iWork document can be tagged with a custom identifier, and not just one but many custom identifiers per file. Auto tags such as date stamp and file type should be included. Every file you work with should be tagged and treated as if it were a record in a large database, which it really is. Then all you have to do is search on the metadata tag you are looking for and every related file will miraculously show up.

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