Apple have began inviting non-developers and the general public to test iWork for iCloud beta.
The beta iCloud includes cloud-based versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynotes and features many of the suite's original functionalities as well as some caveats.
iWork is an office suite of desktop and mobile apps created by Apple that are a direct competitor to the likes of Microsoft Office and Google Docs. The software allows users to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations within the Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps, respectively. The software gives users the ability to sync their work onto iCloud so it is accessible on all of their Apple devices.
If you have received an invite to the public beta, here's a first look at the web suite and a rundown of what you can expect.
Apple has added a vast selection of pre-designed templates on each of the web apps, similar to the Mac OS desktop version. The apps have been streamlined and thus appear much simpler, though, they seem just as powerful. Pages has been extended to offer advanced image and text-editing capabilities such as an easy-wrap option allowing you to simply drag items around the page to see the text wrap around objects automatically.
Similar to Microsoft Office, Pages allows you to edit an images style - adding shadows, opacity, overlays, borders - overall there is a variety of formatting and styles available, with a total of 47 supported fonts (which is pretty good for a web app, considering).
The Keynote wep-app has been beefed up with copious new live slide transition effects, animation time durations and the ability to set different options for each inidvidual animation - are they manually triggered or automatic? Keynote also provides the ability to export your work to Microsoft Office which seems a bit odd, but non-the-less, very handy.
A big push lately has been the emphasis on collaborative work. iWork for iCloud Beta completely misses any implementation of collaboration tools. For example, considering Google Docs, users can share and work on a document with two or more people whilst there is no functionality like this in iWork. Although, the web-apps will live-sync documents between devices and apps.
Keynote is also missing a few 'fundamental' transitions (you know - the ones that everyone uses) that you can get on the iOS app itself. The web-app also lacks support for Firefox, sorry to say Mozilla.
Taking everything into consideration - the suite is still only in a beta phase and the work so far is very promising for Apple; they have plenty of time to implement the missing features and respond to customer feedback on what we'd like to see.
The only criticism I have isn't in particular of iWork but more focused to the iCloud service as a whole. That is - storage. iCloud only offers 5GB free which isn't a lot if you're running an iPhone, Mac or iPad (dare you even consider, running multiple devices). Backups of devices can sometimes be 3-4Gb alone. So if you want to store everything on iCloud from your devices and from iWork, you'll probably be looking at paying to increase your storage size.
What's Work in Progress?
At the moment, Apple have said that the ability to print documents, edit charts and tables, track version history and see the Keynote presenter notes, are all features that we should expect in the future releases of the web-app iWork suite. Apple also said the beta would eventually add the ability for users to send a link to a document directly - potentially we will see some sort of collaboration controls in a future version?
Do you use iWork on any devices at the moment? What features would you like to see on the web-apps? You can get in touch with us by mentioning #ALJTMedia on Twitter, leaving a comment on our Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn page, or writing a comment below.