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Apple updates Pages, Numbers, Keynote for Mac, iOS
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Apr 1, 2014, 07:00 PM
In what is probably a coincidental update following the recent release of Office for iPad, Apple has launched new versions of the trio of apps formerly known as iWork (i.e., Pages, Numbers and Keynote) for both OS X and iOS. The biggest new feature across all versions is a new "view only" setting that allows users to share documents but keep them read-only. Pages for OS X and iOS gains better support for key features such as ePub export, Numbers for OS X and iOS has improved Excel compatibility, and Keynote for both platforms now supports PPTX export, among many other new and improved features for all three programs.

As reported earlier, the iCloud version of the three apps -- which allows users of other operating systems to work with the programs as well -- have gained support for Retina displays, a new editor tab and upgraded sharing functionality, including the new "view-only" setting. Documents created in the iWork apps or Microsoft Office can now be opened directly in iCloud Mail as well. The Mac versions of all three apps have also gained further AppleScript support, a feature reintroduced in the previous update.

A number of the features added in the updates are actually restorations of features that had been removed in the previous major upgrade. As it has done before, Apple re-wrote the iWork apps from the ground up for 64-bit and web/multi-platform compatibility, and stripped out features that couldn't be shared across all three platforms, but with a promise to add them back in (and restore some differences between the versions for web, Mac and iOS) in the near future.

The iCloud version of Pages offers better text wrapping, new templates, and support for editing charts from imported documents; the last of these has also been added to Keynote. Numbers has gained tweaked pop-up menus. The changes apparently bring with them a format change, as Apple says users will need to update their OS X or iOS versions in order to work with documents created in the updated iCloud versions.

Pages on iPad
Pages on iPad

Pages for OS X version 5.2 includes a new page navigator, making it easier to delete, duplicate and re-order sections; has copy-paste style improvements, and improved Instant Alpha image editing; the Media Browser has been improved, and restored the ability to search; users can now create custom data formats, and show rulers as a percentage of document size. The Mac version also has improved text box behavior, and improved support for Microsoft's EndNote, including citation in footnotes.

In addition, it shares a few changes with the iOS version of Pages, now at v2.2: Inline images and shapes in table cells are preserved on import, there are new Arabic and Hebrew templates and improved support for bi-drectional text, and there is now a word count for Hebrew available. Also shared between the two versions is improved ePub support, the ability to control the z-order of bubble chart labels, and the usual "usability improvements." The iOS version also offers the ability to search documents by name, and has better placement of inserted and pasted objects.

The Mac version of Numbers also sees a raft of improvements, including being able to set margins and create headers and footers in the print setup dialog, along with new options for page numbering, page ordering and zooming. Users can now drag and drop a CSV file directly into a sheet, and update a table by dragging in a CSV file.

Numbers on the iPhone
Numbers on the iPhone

Like the update for Pages, users can create custom data formats, and version 3.2 offers improved text box behavior, Media Browser improvements and search, better Instant Alpha image editing and other usability improvements. In addition, users can create custom table styles and get cell-based import feedback. Shared with the iOS update is the ability to control the z-order of bubble chart labels, faster CSV import and improved Microsoft Excel compatibility. The iOS version of Numbers, now at v2.2, also adds the ability to search spreadsheets by name and offers a progress indicator for calculations.

Keynote may be the most improved of all of the iWork apps. The version for Mac and iOS both share the same version number -- 6.2 -- as well as both having identical changes and improvements. The update features new transitions and builds (Object Revolve, Drift and Scale, and Skid); improved Presenter Display layouts and labels, and an improved Magic Move including text morphing. As with Pages, users can now show rulers as a percentage of document size, and along with Numbers see better Instant Alpha image editing and Media Browser improvements; can now create custom data formats; control the z-order of bubble chart labels; enjoy improved bi-directional support for text, lists and tables, and see improved text box behavior.

Keynote on Mac
Keynote on Mac

In addition, both the iOS and OS X versions of Keynote offer the ability to apply motion blur to animations, directly specify the start and end points of movies, and now support animated GIFs. Users can now allow objects on a slide to layer with master, and get detailed presentation import feedback. There is also improved animation performance throughout the applications.

The updates are free for users who own or have upgraded to the 64-bit revisions, which are free to new Mac and iOS device buyers and iOS 7 or Mavericks upgraders. Those who have held onto the iWork '11 versions of their apps (which were not replaced when users downloaded the newer versions) can upgrade on a per-application basis as needed; OS X versions of the apps cost $20 each, while iOS versions are $10 each.
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