One of the first applications I purchased was Apple’s Pages for editing text documents. I wanted to be able to read and edit documents on the iPad and figured that this editor would probably do why I was looking for.
Pages is not a full editor
I am currently reviewing and editing a book that should be published by end of this year and I was hoping to be able to use Pages to perform some of that editing work on the iPad instead of on my computer in Word. I started by e-mailing myself the original Word document, opened it in Pages and the document opened as it should. Unfortunately, the first thing I got is a text box that warned me that the track changes feature is not available and all changes have automatically been accepted. It also warned me about specific fonts that were not available and that some formatting would be lost.
I still went on to edit the text of one chapter hoping that I could use the document comparison tools on my real computer to find my changes and merge them back into the main document. I e-mailed the file back to my regular computer so that I could perform that task. The file size and formatting had changed so much from the original document that I ended up having to re-enter all the changes manually in the Word document. OK, it looks like Pages is too “light” to perform those tasks. Too bad.
Perfect for starting documents
I obviously could not stop things right there, so I decided to proceed with the creation of a whole new document from scratch. When you launch Pages, it shows you all the documents you have edited locally. You can also simply use the “+” to add a new document which is what I did.
I have to say, that I have been able to adapt to typing on the iPad quite quickly. I find it fairly easy to do and efficient enough that I don’t think I would consider an external keyboard very often, unless my typing sessions were long enough that I would need the screen real estate to look at the document contents. So off I went and started typing my contents away.
I actually love the simplicity of the editor, that you can choose from a list of pre-defined styles from the touch of a button, that bold, italic and underline are also available in a similar manner to a toolbar. All in all, simple yet sufficient to get most of your content down on paper and organized.
Writing documents in other languages
Since I often communicate and write documents in both French and English, I needed to explore the support for writing in French. Being a Word user I usually simply have to type a few lines and the document will automatically detect the language I write in. Not so with Pages. To get the spell checking in French you actually have to switch the language settings for the whole iPad, luckily, this is simple by going to the iPad general settings and then international and can be switched back very easily.
As you type your document, Pages automatically corrects most of the spelling and adds the appropriate accents when needed. Of course, you still need to keep an eye on what was corrected and there are some corrections that do not get done at all so you may have to go back and fix the spelling on those occurrences.
To be able to make some of the corrections and add the missing accents, it took me a while (and a search on the Internet) to figure out that by pressing and holding a letter, after 2 seconds a sub menu appears and lets you select from a list of options to select the proper accented letter. That means that even when using the English keyboard, you can still enter the usual “é è ê à”, etc. It all works quite well once you are used to it.
Pages is a great too to start composing documents and dumping ideas while working on the iPad but I suspect that for the more elaborate documents you will want to e-mail the draft back to a real computer with a full word processing tool to polish the formatting and maybe add some of the more complex contents. For working on the text itself Pages is a pretty fantastic tool to work with. Personally, I am pretty sure I will be using Pages on the iPad to do a lot of the brain dumping and initial drafts of documents I have to work on.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
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