Alongside the new iOS 5 apps released last week (find me on Find My Friends), Apple has also updated a number of their other apps to make full use of iOS 5 and the iCloud – the most marketed of which are the 3 iWork suite apps. Sounds good, right? But, how does it stack up with the other office productivity suites that leverage the cloud?
The major upgrades for the iWork suite this time round focused on iCloud integration and bakcup while leaving pretty much everything else in tact, and this is more or less or a good thing. I love the mobile iWork suite, and being able to access my files on the cloud without having to email or download it via iTunes is a step in the right direction.
If you’ve been reading my columns here for some time, you would expect the next few paragraphs to be about what’s wrong with the current iteration and what’s missing. And you wouldn’t be wrong in the slightest. The biggest issue with the latest iWork update is that it just barely misses the mark of what cloud-based office productivity should be.
Remember iWork.com? Maybe you don’t. It’s one of those rare Apple betas that allow iWork users to upload their files to their servers for document sharing. It works surprisingly well for what it was designed to do. Upload documents, download it as original iWork files, Office files or even PDFs. Sounds pretty close to what the iCloud is, right? But what does this have to do with iCloud? Well, absolutely nothing and that’s the problem.
Firstly, the two systems simply don’t talk to each other (and I’m assuming neither do the two product teams). Uploading a file to the iCloud doesn’t allow it to be quickly pushed into iWork.com for sharing. I’d have to use the native app on the iPad to do that. Where’s the tight-knit integrated environment for which Apple is renowned?
Secondly, as iCloud is to storage, iWork should be to productivity. With iCloud publicly available, iWork.com needs to reposition itself for online document editing a la Google Docs. It almost appears that with Apple’s Great Leap Forward into the cloud space, they completely neglected their iWork suite rather than integrating it into their overall strategy. Maybe I got spoiled by Google Docs and Office 360, but this is what the new cloud paradigm is and Apple has once again chosen to ignore it.
In short, iWork for iOS 5 does the job folding iCloud into its productivity suite. However, it seems to have dropped the ball when it comes to updating it for the cloud based reality we now live in. It’s possible that the suite gets updated in the future, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for this one.
The iWork suite for iOS 5 is a free upgrade for those who have already purchased it, but is $9.99 each for first time buyers.
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