Tag Archives: iWork

Should iWork be Free?

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At WWDC, Apple announced an expanded version of iWork in the cloud. Now you may think that iWork is already in the cloud, and it is, sort of. Currently, iWork documents are saved in iCloud so you can open them on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone, but you need the iWork apps to edit the documents. Apple unveiled a web-based version of iWork that allows users to create and edit documents in a web browser. While this is certainly a welcomed feature for iWork users, Apple left a number of questions unanswered. How much will it cost? Is iWork going to become a part of iCloud? Apple suggested more details would be released this fall, but I would argue that Apple needs iWork to be FREE to all users.

When you buy a Mac, iLife is free, but you have to buy the iLife apps for iOS. In addition, iWork apps have always come at a premium on OS X and iOS. Page, Numbers, and Keynote are sold in the Mac App Store for $19.99 each, and 9.99 each for iOS. If you buy iWork on the Mac, you have to buy the apps for iWork as well. If you choose to buy the full suite of apps for OS X and iOs, you have spent $89.94. But many Mac users, myself included, opt to spend more for the more mainstream Microsoft Office. Users should, at the very least, get the Mac AND iOS iWork apps for one price. Why should I have to buy iWork for each platform? I have not purchased iWork and do not plan to. I have used it on other Macs and have been using the beta versions in iCloud. I like the features of iWork, and the beta version of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote in iCloud are solid contenders. The layout of iWork in a browser is much like iWork on the Mac. For awhile I forgot I was using a browser based system. It worked that well.

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Apple knows iWork is not mainstream like Office or Google Docs. I believe iWork for iCloud could change this fact. If Apple wants to bring iWork to a larger audience, it needs to be free for every user of Mac OS X and iOS. Users of Android and Google get Google Docs for free with their phone and it can be used on a PC or Mac. Apple suggested that new versions of iWork for the Mac and iOS will be released in the fall, and to complete with Google and Microsoft, Apple needs to step it up and provide iWork as a free feature in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7.

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WWDC: Other Announcements

Apple’s WWDC keynote on Monday provided a glimpse into the company’s future. The company showed off iOS 7 and Mac OS X Mavericks. While iOS 7 stole the show, there were some other interesting updates provided at WWDC that are worth discussing.

MacBook Air

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Intel announced their new Haswell chips a few weeks ago. It was speculated that Apple would update their entire Mac line to Haswell because of their low power consumption. The only line that received an update, however, was the MacBook Air. While the Air did not receive a Retina display as many had hoped, it did receive a spec bump. But the updated specs do come with positive and negative points.

On the positive side, the prices of the 13″ MacBook Air did drop $100 and the base model 11″ comes with 128GB of flash storage instead of 64GB. The real story, however, is the Haswell chips. The battery life of the 11″ model has improved to 9 hours and the 13″ now boasts 12 hours of battery life! Pretty impressive, but the processors are a bit slower. Benchmark scores are lower for the newer models, but not enough to make a huge difference.

Mac Pro

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Pro users have been waiting for an update to the Mac Pro for over two years, and Apple previewed the all new Mac Pro that will be available this fall. The new Mac Pro is 1/8 the size of the previous model and includes updated processors, internal flash storage, and 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports. This is going to be a very powerful, and expensive, machine. But there are pro users who need this type of power. The best thing about the new model is that they are being assembled in the United States.

Air Port Extreme

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Air Port Extreme received a major update at WWDC. It now features the blazingly fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The device has also been completely redesigned and looks great! Users of the Air Port Extreme can upgrade to this new model with a 2TB or 3TB Time Capsule built in. Prices start at $299.

iWork in the Cloud

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One of the less reported updates from WWDC was the fact that users would be able to edit their iWork documents in iCloud. All three apps, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, will be available on iCloud. I know what you are thinking, iWork documents already sync with iCloud. True, but users will be able to EDIT iWork documents in the cloud. Apple seems to be targeting Google Docs and Office 365 here, but will it be enough? I do not use iWork on my Mac, and I refuse to subscribe to Office. Apple says it will continue to make the stand alone apps, but what will they cost? Will iWork in the cloud have a fee too?

We do not know the answers to these questions yet, but I have always thought iWork, like iLife, should be free with every Mac. Maybe iWork in the cloud will be free, but having the Mac app will cost the standard $19.99 per app. We will find out more this fall, but I would like to see Apple make iWork a free feature of iCloud and the Mac.

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What OS X Mountain Lion Needs to be Killer

Yesterday, I posted a glowing review of OS X Mountain Lion. I was able to do so because Mountain Lion is a solid OS, and Apple’s strategy of merging the features of iOS and OS X is creating a solid ecosystem. But there are improvements Apple could make to OS X, and features of iOS that could be brought over to the Mac. I thought I would outline my suggestions to bring OS X to the next level.

One of the oldest apps on OS X is iTunes. iTunes is a great media organization app, but it is outdated. Apple has not updated iTunes since 2010, and it is beginning to show its age. iTunes needs a new layout and an easier way to organize and access all the content it contains. Currently iTunes houses the App Store, iTunes Store iBooks Store, music library, books, audiobooks, ringtones, movies, TV shows, radio stations, Podcasts, and iTunes University.

There is so much in iTunes, that it may be time for Apple to take another one of its iOS strategies to the Mac. Apple has been breaking up iTunes in iOS and has introduced separate apps for Videos, Podcasts, and iTunes University. These apps are not preinstalled on the phone but are are available in the App Store. Perhaps Apple should consider breaking up iTunes on the Mac as well. Individual apps could easily be distributed through the Mac App Store. Apple’s media event in the fall has traditionally included an iTunes refresh, and I am hoping for a major update from Apple.

A few years ago, Apple began ported some of its Mac applications to iOS. One of the first was iLife. iMovie, iPhoto, and Garage Band are all available on iOS and Mac OS X, but the layout of these apps on iOS, specifically the editing features on iMovie and iPhone, is more user friendly than on the Mac. I really expected iLife ’11 to match the iOS apps more closely, but instead Apple only rolled out a minor update.

My issues with iLife also extend to iWork. While iWork on iOS is similar to iWork on OS X, there are some differences in layout that would be beneficial to Mac users. Unlike iLife, Apple has not updated iWork for Mac since 2009. There have been minor updates, but iWork remains largely unchanged. Hopefully in the coming weeks, Apple will announce major changes iWork and iLife to make the OS X apps feel more iOS like in operation and function.

Apple has spent the last five years working to improve iOS and adding innovative and competative features. Some of the features, like iLife and iWork, were Mac apps ported to iOS, but there are two iOS apps that I would like to see developed for the Mac. The first is iBooks. Amazon’s Kindle app for Mac is a great option for those who like to read on the Mac, but it is strange that Apple has not made its own iBooks app and store available to Mac users. The iBooks store is available through iTunes, but purchases are only viewable through iOS. The other iOS app I would like to see brought to the Mac is Newsstand. Reading a newspaper or magazine on my Mac would be great. Like iBooks, it is possible to download Newsstand apps on the Mac, but they must be viewed on iOS. These two apps alone would really make the Mac more competitive and would be beneficial to the developers in both stores. Both apps could take advantage of iCloud and sync bookmarks and downloads between a user’s devices. I think Apple is really missing out on something big with iBooks and Newsstand.

There is one more app that I would love to see ported to the Mac. iOS 6 will feature Apple’s new maps application, and I think it deserves a place on the Mac. Garmin has an app that allows users to plan a trip on their Mac or PC and sync the data to their GPS. Apple could use iCloud here as well. A Mac owner could plan their trip on their computer then have iCloud automatically sync the trip data to their iPhone via iCloud. Of all the suggestions, this is the furthers from happening at this point because Apple’s Maps are still in beta, but this would be a great feature and a great selling point for the OS X – iOS ecosystem.

When Apple began blurring the lines of iOS and OS X, I was skeptical. Having used iOS 5, OS X, and iCloud for the last year, I believe that Apple is heading in the right direction. But Apple needs to stop taking incremental steps. Apple has clearly committed itself to this transition, and they need to step it up the transition. For the last several years, Apple has outgrown the market in the Mac segment. With these simple improvements, Apple could have an unbeatable ecosystem for years to come.

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Graduate School and the iPad

I have owned an iPad since last April, but never really used it to its fullest potential on campus.  Last semester, I took a picture of all the books and articles I read through out the semester.  The fact of the matter was I downloaded all the articles from BlackBoard and recycled them at the end of the semester since I had saved a digital copy on my computer.  This made me realize that I really needed to use the iPad for more than just email, web, and entertainment.  There had to be an app that would allow me to create a folder system for my classes, and there was.  I found the app GoodReader for $2.99.  I figured it would be worth it for an app that worked on the iPad and iPhone (since I have both).  I purchased the app last fall and began to work with it.  I decided it was the best candidate for this semester.

Steve Jobs Unveils the iPad, January 27, 2010

A week before classes began, I created a folder system within GoodReader which broke down the course by week.  This would allow me to download the PDF files from BlackBoard directly to GoodReader on the iPad and place it in the proper folder.  It may sound complicated, but it makes things much easier than keeping track of a paper version of the article.  After all, printing the articles seemed like a waste of paper when I could just as easily read them on the iPad.

When the semester began, I downloaded the readings for week two for my courses and placed them within the proper folders.  I always have my iPad with me on campus, and so now when I have a free moment, I can read articles for class while on campus.  With the paper versions, I would have to bring them with me if I wanted to do that, and there is no guarantee free time will present itself.

After working with the iPad for almost a year, and experimenting with reading PDF files on it for three weeks, I can honestly say it makes my life easier.  I could have just as easily purchased a laptop (or kept my MacBook), but the iPad is much thinner and a pound lighter than the lightest MacBook Air.  The touch interface also make the reading of articles easier as I can easily adjust the zoom using a pinching motion.  As a student, the iPad does everything I want it to do and more.

Screen shot of GoodReader’s Folder System

Apple’s Steve Jobs described the iPad last year as “magical.”  But he was not far off.  There is something more intimate about the iPad over a laptop or even a desktop.  I find that I am using the iPad more than my iPhone!  I may be a little biased, but the iPad is truly a multi-talented product that has changed the way we think about computing.  That was evident at this years Consumer Electronics Show.  Over 40 new tablets were demoed and will be released by the end of this year.  The iPad is making my grad school experience a little easier, and I look forward to using it for years to come!

Next weekend, I will begin reviewing my classes by looking at HIST 696.  Until then…

-Eric

(P.S.  I wanted to take a little space to express my sincere wishes that Steve Jobs get well soon so that he may return to Apple from his Medical Leave of Absence.)

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