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iWork Suite Gains View-Only Option and Other Enhancements

As it did in November 2013 (see “Pages, Keynote, and Numbers Receive Minor Updates,” 21 November 2013) and again in January 2014 (see “Apple Updates iWork Suite for Mac, iOS, and iCloud,” 24 January 2014), Apple has released an update to its iWork suite of apps — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — across all three platforms on which it runs: Mac OS X, iOS, and iCloud. For those keeping track, that’s nine apps that got some Apple update love in this latest release. Let’s take them on a platform-by-platform basis.

Mac — The top-listed update feature for all three apps is the addition of a new “view only” setting, so you can share viewable but non-editable versions of Pages documents, Numbers spreadsheets, and Keynote presentations. In addition, all three apps have received:

  • Usability improvements
  • Improved text box behavior
  • Improved Instant Alpha image editing
  • Media browser improvements, including search
  • Improved AppleScript support (for more on this, see Ben Waldie’s Macworld article, “Latest iWork update is another win for AppleScript”; also check out the AppleScript & iWork site for useful tips and resources.)

All iWork apps on the Mac also now enable users to create custom data formats and control the z-order of bubble chart labels.

Pages, now at version 5.2, improves its copy and paste performance, including better placement of pasted objects. Arabic and Hebrew support is also improved, with new templates provided for both languages, better bi-directional text support, and with Hebrew documents getting a word-count feature. Rulers can now display measurements as a percentage of page size, and the origin point of the rulers (both horizontal and vertical) can be set to the center of the ruler. Users can now rearrange document sections by dragging them around in the thumbnails sidebar (also known as the “page navigator”). EPUB export has been improved, and EndNote support is enhanced, particularly when one uses citations in footnotes. Those who use tables in
Pages will be pleased to learn that inline shapes and images in table cells are preserved when imported.

Numbers, at version 3.2, enables users to set margins and to create headers and footers in print setup. The app also offers new print options, including page numbering, zoom, and page ordering. Users can now drag CSV files directly into a Numbers spreadsheet, and existing tables can be updated by dragging CSV files onto them. In addition, users can now create custom table styles. Microsoft Excel compatibility has also been improved.

Keynote 6.2 offers new transitions and builds: Skid, Object Revolve, and Drift and Scale. Magic Move has also been improved and now provides text morphing. Animation performance has generally been improved, and motion blur can now be added to animations. The app’s Presenter Display feature offers improved layouts and labels. Users can now specify the start and end times of movies that have been added to presentations, and animated GIFs are now supported as well. The capability to export presentations to PowerPoint’s PPTX format has also been added in this release.

iOS — All three iOS apps in the suite, now at version 2.2, provide “view only” sharing of documents just like their Mac counterparts, along with better support for bi-directional text and unspecified “usability improvements.” All three also enable users to search for documents by name and control the z-order of bubble chart labels.

Pages for iOS boasts enhancements for bi-directional text similar to those in the Mac app, including word count for Hebrew, and new Arabic and Hebrew templates, and the app’s EPUB export feature has also been improved.

Numbers for iOS has improved the speed with which it imports CSV files, provides better Microsoft Excel compatibility, and offers a progress indicator for calculations.

Keynote 2.2 users can now use a finger to illustrate slides as they are presented: the feature, called “Highlighter,” is described more fully in an Apple support article, “Keynote for iOS: About Highlighter.” The new transitions provided in the Mac version – Skid, Object Revolve, and Drift and Scale — have made their way to the iOS app, and the presenter display now provides a portrait layout option. The iOS app can export to PPTX format, just like its Mac sibling. (Along with the updated app, Apple has also updated its support article about optimizing Keynote presentations for iOS compatibility.)

iCloud — Helpfully, the still-in-beta iCloud versions of the apps provided by the site offer the new “view only” setting just like the Mac and iOS apps do, but it’s perhaps most important in the iCloud version, where you may wish to share a document broadly without letting anyone make changes. All three can now open documents from iCloud Mail, and all three offer improved support for Retina displays. Each app has had its toolbar and control designs tweaked.

Pages for iCloud offers better text wrap options, new templates, and the capability to open password-protected Pages ’09 and Microsoft Word documents. It also enables users to edit chart data in imported documents and preserves images and shapes in table cells of imported documents.

In this iteration of Numbers for iCloud, pop-up menus, conditional highlighting rules, and custom data formats are preserved when documents are imported, and the Web app also lets users open password-protected Numbers ’09 and Microsoft Excel documents. When viewing or editing a shared document, users can now jump to a collaborator’s sheet selection.

Keynote for iCloud makes collaboration a little easier by letting users jump to a collaborator’s slide selection. Chart data in imported presentations can now be edited, and the Web app can now open password-protected Keynote ’09 and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

The new Mac and iOS apps are available via Software Update on their respective platforms, and the iCloud apps are now live on the site. In addition, Apple has updated its “About the new iWork for Mac: Features and compatibility” document, listing some of the most noteworthy changes, and, as it has in previous versions of the document, promises to “add brand new features on an ongoing basis.” Stay tuned.

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