Deceptively minimalist yet power-house writing app
Woke up one morning -- dah da dah duh -- with an entire short play in my head. As you do. I would like to tell you that I picked up my iPad, opened Drafts 4 and wrote the whole thing in one go, because that is what I should have done. Instead, as much of a fan of Drafts on iOS as I am, I tried writing it in Final Draft instead.
Apple's office software gets a rebuild, with the previous one still functioning
Welcome to The Feature Thief, a mini-series of columns where we take a look at some of Apple's rollercoaster of change when it comes to software -- from apps that got a makeover to a sex change, or even some that just got tossed out entirely. Each day this week, we'll take a fairly recent example of each of the three types of sometimes-painful change users have been subjected to when Apple gets a new idea, what to do about it, and where to look for alternatives if necessary.
In push to move forward, beloved bits and pieces sometimes fall to the wayside
Stop us if you've heard this one: Apple takes one of its key software applications, radically changes it, losing important features along the way. Existing users say Apple has dumbed down an app that was perfect, while new users say this is fantastic, they can finally understand the application. Flash forward a few months, and Apple has stealthily added back some or all of the features. We've seen this with iMovie and Final Cut Pro, we saw it with Pages, we are seeing it now with iPhoto turning into Photos. It is a well-worn path by Apple, and if we're not fans of the way they go about it, we are often fans of how these new applications turn out ... eventually.
Get more from Apple's deceptively powerful word processor
You probably own Apple's Pages, and you may even have opened it. If you did, what you think depends on what you're used to: new users just dive right in and start typing, while we've heard Word users complain that it simply isn't powerful enough for them. This is an odd one: they are actually right, but not in the ways they expect. Pages does lack some of the very heavy-lifting word processor functions that Word has, but few people use those. What Word fans think is missing from Pages is the more general day-to-day features that in fact it has, and has very well.
French, Japanese among new translations
The iCloud edition of iWork has received a number of updates, primarily the addition of new languages. Pages is now usable in Arabic, Hebrew, French, German, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and simplified Chinese; Arabic and Hebrew are bidirectional. Keynote and Numbers, meanwhile, have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and simplified Chinese.
Support for Microsoft Office another focus
As promised, Apple has revealed its updates to the OS X iWork suite. The apps have been redesigned for OS X Yosemite, and now support related features such as iCloud Drive, and Handoff to iPads and iPhones. Pages has gained a variety of specific features, such as a sidebar for comments and changes, the ability to insert images in tables, headers, and footers, and better compatibility with Word documents, including password-protected .docx export.
Downloads still optional for 16GB models
People picking up a 64 or 128GB iPhone 6/6 Plus later this week will find several of Apple's iLife and iWork apps pre-installed, a leaked internal Apple training document reveals. The company specifically lists iMovie, GarageBand, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, and iTunes U. "These apps are also available as a free download from the App Store for the 16GB models," Apple writes.
Web apps get Retina display enhancements, more
Apple has made some improvements to iWork for iCloud, according to pop-up messages. All three web apps in the suite -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- have been given better support for Retina displays, a new editor tab, and upgraded sharing functions. The latter let people set shared documents as view-only, and open documents directly via iCloud Mail.
App gains 64-bit code, better accuracy, transcriptions from recordings
Nuance has launched Dragon Dictate 4, a new edition of its dictation and transcription software for the Mac. The app has switched to a fully 64-bit codebase, allowing it to better exploit modern processors and RAM. Nuance says it has also improved the accuracy of voice recognition, optimizing it for newer technology.
List shows recently-shared documents
Apple has pushed out a major update of the iWork for iCloud suite of web apps. While the apps are still officially in beta, all three have been given a new, iOS 7-style makeover for their template pickers and document libraries. During editing, though, users will still see the old iOS 6-style look.
Keynote gets substantial improvements, others get back customizable toolbars
[Updated with additional information] As promised by the company in response to user feedback, updates have been made to Apple's iWork suites of apps for Mac and iOS. Apple has released v2.0.1 updates for the iOS versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. The iOS versions of, Pages and Numbers have only received minor bugfixes, but the Mac versions gained back a feature removed from the v10 remakes - customizable toolbars. The Mac and iOS version of Keynote also added a series of new transitions and builds.
Web apps still officially in beta
Apple has made several minor updates to iWork for iCloud. The emphasis is on collaboration features, which now include a list of the people currently working on a project. Likewise, apps will display cursors and selections for each editor.
Users have complained about missing features
Some features that went missing in last month's iWork update for the Mac will return within the next six months, Apple states in a new knowledge base article. The company says that it rewrote the suite with compatibility in mind, including 64-bit processing and interaction between Mac, iOS, and iCloud. That led to some iWork '09 features being left out, but a number of them should return in a series of future updates.
Could impact number of developers
The AppleScript dictionary included with the latest version of the iWork suite has been so stripped down as to be virtually absent, a developer observes. AppleScript lets both developers and individuals automate actions that would otherwise require many repetitive steps. "What I suspect Apple doesn't realize is how much small business and small shops workflow depends upon AppleScript," comments the developer, Clark Goble. "Casual use is fine. But a lot of people do more. It wouldn't be so bad were there an alternative."
Service on verge of leaving beta
Apple is in the process of bringing iWork for iCloud out of beta later today, a glimpse at iCloud.com suggests. Loading the beta Pages, Numbers, or Keynote web apps currently triggers a notification at the top of the site, promising more features for each app within "a few short hours." Apple is due to hold a press event at 10AM Pacific time, after which the company will presumably flip the switch on completed web apps.
Issues not universal
Some users of the new iOS iWork apps are experiencing "blue screen of death" crashes, complaints indicate. The crashes can potentially affect Pages, Numbers, and Keynote alike, and are easy to trigger. After launching one of the apps, users just have to open an existing document and then hit a device's Home button. This may not only kill the app, but force the device itself to reboot. Not all users are suffering from the problem however.
Users encounter error messages at iCloud.com
Apple is restricting some users' access to the iWork for iCloud beta, anecdotes indicate. People trying to launch Pages, Numbers, or Keynote from the iCloud website may find themselves blocked by an error message stating that Apple has had an "overwhelming response," and asking them to "check back soon." The company promises however that documents saved in the Mac and iOS versions of iWork will still be backed up to iCloud.
Rollout no longer gradual
The iWork for iCloud beta is now accessible by all iCloud users. Web versions of the iWork apps -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- were initially restricted to developers, but then gradually began reaching the general public through the beta iCloud site. Today, though, the iWork apps have been independently pushed to iCloud.com.
Several paid Apple apps included in first-time recommendations
An oddity in the latest iOS 7 beta suggests that Apple could make the iOS edition of iWork and/or several other of its apps free. The App Store's first-time recommendation window, which suggests Apple apps to download, is currently including the iWork apps -- Pages, Keynote, Numbers -- as well as several other paid titles, like iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand. The window normally only mentions free apps, such as iBooks and Find My iPhone.
Pages for iCloud points to the future of web apps
Apple has made no secret about the pivotal role that iCloud has to play in its devices strategy. It offers a range of services, many of which are designed to work seamlessly in the background helping to keep user data backed up and synced in the cloud and across multiple devices. Additionally, it includes web app versions of Mail, Contacts, Notes, Calendar, Reminders, Find My iPhone and storage for Pages, Keynote and Numbers documents. Due this fall, Apple is set to update iCloud to include full web app versions of its iWork app suite including Pages, Keynote and Numbers. In the first of a short series looking the new beta versions of these applications, we take first look at Pages for iCloud beta.
Test base grows beyond developers
Access to the iWork for iCloud beta has been extended to Apple workers, according to an internal email. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote web apps were launched in beta form earlier this month at WWDC 2013, but testing was initially restricted to third parties registered in Apple's developer program. Apple workers are allowed to access the beta for personal use.
Will support Office documents
Apple has announced that its iWork app suite -- Pages, Keynote, and Numbers -- will be coming to iCloud.com sometime later this year. In web form, the apps will support a variety of editing functions such as font selection, adding, cropping, and rotating images, or animating Keynote transitions. Users will be able to gain access via compatible OS X and Windows browsers; Office documents will be included in format support.
Updates could arrive on or soon after WWDC
Several recent Apple job listings may hint that the company is on the verge of updating both the OS X and iOS editions of iWork, reports say. Some of the listings date back as far as March; one of them, though, was posted on May 11, and specifically calls for an iWork QA tester, which could mean Apple is in the last phases of development. Another opening, dating back to May 7, asks for a "HiDP Image Specialist," tasked with bringing iWork visual designs to Retina displays.
Apps last updated in December
Apple has posted minor updates to the iOS versions of its iWork apps. In this case Pages, Numbers, and Keynote all share the same release notes, indicating that they make "stability improvements and bug fixes." Apple hasn't identified what particular bugs have been solved.
Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter still off store
(Updated with Thunderbolt-to-FireWire availability) Apple appears to have restored new build-to-order options for the lower-end model of the Retina MacBook Pro. At the company's online store, shoppers can now scale the processor up to a 2.6 or 2.7GHz Core i7, or the SSD up to 512 or 768GB. Apple is moreover allowing any new Mac buyer to have Pages, Numbers, or Keynote pre-installed.
New Server just $20 add-on
(Updated with Safari security notes) Accompanying today's launch of OS X Mountain Lion are a number of parallel software updates. Amount these is OS X Server for Mountain Lion, a $20 add-on. The release marks another price drop for Server, which in its Lion form cost $49; before that it cost several times more still.
Pushes users to Mac App Store
Apple has removed trial versions of Aperture and the iWork suite from its website, reports observe. In both cases, users are now being asked to visit the Mac App Store and pay for full products. "The trial version of iWork is no longer supported. But you can easily purchase Keynote, Pages, and Numbers from the Mac App Store to start creating beautiful presentations, documents, and spreadsheets today," the US iWork page reads.
iBooks could arrive on Mac for first time
Apple could announce Pages '12, an iBooks 2.0, and textbooks rentals at this morning's education event in New York City, claims ZDNet's Jason O'Grady in a Twitter post. The writer cites only a "little birdie" for the information but also mentions that iBooks 2.0 could include a version for Lion, and that all three products will be announced by Roger Rosner, Apple's VP in charge of iWork.
Whole host of Apple apps get updates
Complementing the introduction of Find My Friends and AirPort Utility, Apple has launched two more iOS apps, plus updates to several existing titles. The first of the new apps is Cards, a previously announced program that lets users insert custom text and photos into 21 basic designs and have real-world greeting cards mailed to addresses around the world. This costs $3 when mailing within the US, or $5 when sending a card to an international address.
New apps cope with Word, Excel vulnerabilities
Several days after the release of iWork 9.1, Apple has at last published a list of security fixes in its productivity suite. Only three have been made, all revolving around files from Microsoft Office. Two of the closed vulnerabilities are attached to Excel files; prior to the v9.1 update, it was possible to code Excel files to trigger certain buffer overflows or memory corruptions in Numbers, in turn creating crashes or allowing system hijacks.
iTunes expected to go full-screen, 64-bit
(Updated for iWork, iTunes, Safari releases) Apple is preparing several important software updates that should arrive in the near future, Software Update images from AppleInsider indicate. Perhaps the most significant of these is iTunes 10.4, which is said to be designed for Lion, for instance incorporating an iLife-style fullscreen mode which supports app switching using gestures. The program is also being made a native 64-bit Cocoa title, and cleaned up with a variety of stability and performance tweaks. iTunes is one of the few flagship Apple titles still operating with 32-bit code.
iPad app now universal
Apple has launched a major update of the mobile version of iWork, evolving it to support the iPhone and iPod touch. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are now universal titles, continuing to offer an expanded, more complex interface on iPads. Pricing also remains a consistent $10 for each title.
MobileMe winding down, iWork pushed to App Store?
Apple has shut down rebate offers for MobileMe and iWork, according to a leaked internal memo. It was previously possible to get $30 off a MobileMe subscription when buying a Mac or iOS device, or $30 off a new copy of the iWork suite when buying a Mac. Resellers were asked to "remove any reference to these promotions by close of business" on the 18th, the memo indicates.
New content from Jumsoft
A limited-time $1 promotion is currently being offered on Algoriddim's iPhone version of djay. The software features a dual turntable view when held in landscape mode, but switches to a single deck when working in portrait mode. Direct access to a user's iPod library is provided for quickly importing songs, while a live recording feature allows users to capture their mixes and share them with others. Other features include cue points, BPM matching, pre-cueing on a headphone splitter, and AirPlay audio for automates. Algoriddim has not set a firm end to the promotion, however, it is likely to run until the end of the week. Afterwards, the application will rise to a new price of $5.
iWeb set to join GarageBand and iMovie for iPad?
It may have been some time since iWeb, Apple’s simple WYSIWYG web page design tool, has received new features. However, it appears that Apple has at the very least considered bringing it across to the iPad. A new patent application has emerged that shows a version of iWeb for the iPad. It would join GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers, Pages and iMovie as productivity and creativity apps ported from its Mac OS X platform over to its burgeoning iOS platform.
Pages among 11 other formats
Google on Friday gave Google Docs its first real file format update with 12 new standards. The release supports an Apple-specific format for the first time and will let users read Pages documents in-browser. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop images also now work, and modelling gets its first support through recognition of Autodesk's AutoCAD.
Retina support for iPad less likely
Icons discovered in the code for Pages for iPad may suggest that Apple has bigger plans for iWork on iOS. The graphics depict common options in Pages, such as printing, guidelines and notes. Notably though the material is sized at Retina Display resolution, something the first-generation iPad doesn't support.
Update adds support for iWork.com beta
Apple has released an update to its iWork '09 productivity suite today, adding playback of Keynote presentations on the iWork.com public beta -- requiring the latest version of Safari -- with 15 animations and effects. Keynote Remote v1.2 is now supported with high-resolution slides available for Retina displays and two major bugs in Keynote are fixed. One involves a ruler issue when resizing, the other an export to iPod issue when iTunes 10 is installed alongside iWork '09. The update also fixes a Drop transition, Dissolve build, and Shape Colors issue in Keynote.
Flipboard, Osmos among leading titles
As part of its annual iTunes Rewind promotion, which highlights content on the iTunes Store, Apple is featuring four iOS apps in particular as award winners. The two iPhone apps are the tower defense game Plants vs. Zombies, and Hipstamatic, which emulates some of the unintentional artistic effects of old film cameras. The featured iPad apps include "social magazine" Flipboard, and Osmos, an indie game meant as much for relaxation as play.
Apps gain AirPrint, iOS 4.2.1 compatibility
As hinted at earlier, Apple has posted v1.3 updates for apps in the iPad version of the iWork suite. All expected upgrades are present, including support for two key iOS 4.2.1 features: multitasking, and AirPrint, which allows printing via Wi-Fi. Only a handful of HP printers are currently supported, however.
Should add iOS 4.2, AirPrint support
To help back today's iOS 4.2 update, Apple is also planning to launch simultaneous v1.3 updates of the Pages, Keynote and Numbers iPad apps, a news story claims. All three iWork titles should be getting support for iOS 4.2's multitasking capabilities, as well as AirPrint integration. Some AirPrint options include page- or slide-range selection, duplex printing and setting the number of copies.
Suite essentially finished, sources say
iWork '11 is actually already finished and just waiting for the introduction of the Mac App Store in order to ship, sources for AppleInsider claim. The same people also say that Numbers, Pages and Keynote will be available separately through the App Store, and that Apple has yet to decide whether the usual boxed retail version of iWork will be published. Images from Apple's Back to the Mac event depict iWork programs becoming available for $20 each via the App Store.
iDisk, WebDAV support also shared in common
Apple has released v1.2 updates for the trio of iWork apps available for the iPad. Critically, Numbers documents can now be exported as Excel files, while Keynote presentations can be exported in PowerPoint format. All three apps -- including Pages -- have been updated with the ability to group and ungroup objects, as well as upload to a MobileMe iDisk or miscellaneous WebDAV services.
Bug fixes also included
Apple has released an update to its iWork suite of productivity applications. Version 9.0.4 addresses unnamed issues in Keynote, Pages and Numbers. The update also adds an ePub export option in Pages, enabling users to save documents in a format compatible with the iBooks reader app for iOS devices.
Apps already in beta?
Apple is indeed working on an iPhone version of the iWork suite, a pair of screenshots suggest. Both depict Pages running on an iPod touch; the first shows an option to export a file as either a Pages or a Word document, while the second shows a simple document browser. The app is described as in beta testing, though how close to release an iWork update might be is not known.
Apps get new languages, tweaks, bugfixes
Apple has updated all three apps in the iPad iWork suite, bringing their versions up to v1.1. Pages has gained support for several new languages, including Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian, Spanish and simplified Chinese. Some of these will be essential for international iPad users, who should get access to the iWork suite on or around May 28th.
Suite still amongst most popular iPad titles
The iPad version of iWork could generate over $40 million a year for Apple, one projection suggests. The figure is based on Silicon Alley Insider talks with several top 10 iPad developers, and a subsequent estimate that paid apps sell about 2,500 copies per weekday, and another 7,500 per Saturday or Sunday. This translates into 27,500 downloads per app, per week, and at a cost of $10 per app, $825,000 in weekly revenue.
PDF converter recognizes forms, formatting, tables
Solid Documents has launched Solid PDF to Word for Mac. The PDF converter arrives on the Mac platform with the ability to export to formats compatible with Word, Excel, Pages, HTML and text, giving a user numerous choices when editing a PDF document is necessary. The converter recognizes headers and footers, retains formatting, recovers tables and recognizes hyperlinks. It can also recover rotated text and recognize and reconstruct PDF forms.
Templates focus on business themes
Jumsoft has expanded its Pages Templates Pro package with several new themes. Geared for business use, the Pages Templates Pro line provides 20 templates with similar styling for brochures, letters, envelopes, business cards, invoices, and other documents. Users can enter text, configure text boxes, switch fonts, or use images to replace template placeholders. Each template is available in both US Letter and A4 formats.
Executive deflects battery claims
Apple CEO Steve Jobs disclosed a few more salient iPad facts in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's product announcement, a video interview reveals. Speaking with Wall Street Journal writer Walt Mossberg, Jobs commented on the display of the tablet, which is a 9.7-inch IPS LCD, an unusual choice for something also meant to serve as an e-book reader. Readers like the Kindle use e-ink, which is easier on the eyes but also significantly extends the battery life of hardware.