When Apple first released the iWork for iCloud web apps, I noted that the apps included far more features than Google Docs, especially for page layout and formatting. There was just one major thing missing: collaboration. That was rectified this week, when at the Apple announcement they went to great lengths to show off (with, of all things, what’s essentially Word Art) that their office suite now has real-time collaboration.
Google Docs — and smaller apps like Etherpad — pride themselves on letting you collaborate with others in real-time. I’ve used it to great effect in the past to work with others on translating documents, among other things, and we share a number of documents at AppStorm on Google Drive — though we rarely if ever are all editing at once. For the most part, it just seems like real-time editing is too much, an opinion seemingly shared with the newer writing and editing apps Draft and Editorially.
And yet, live collaboration seemed like a big enough need to Apple that they added collaboration to their iWork web apps over what others would consider more-needed poweruser features in Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for Mac.
That made me wonder how important live collaboration is to you. Do you regularly live co-edit documents with others, or do you just share documents with others and each edit them at your own leisure? We’d love to hear your thoughts on live editing documents — and, if you’ve tried them, on Apple’s iWork for iCloud web apps — in the comments below.
The biggest surprise of Apple's 2013 WWDC keynote was not the new versions of iOS and OS X, since those were expected. Rather, it was the iWork Web Apps — browser-based versions of their word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps that are nearly perfect copies of their iPad counterparts. We've already looked at the developer preview of the iWork Web Apps at Mac.AppStorm, and they're really good already. They lack collaboration features, but if you're making documents on your own, and especially if you care about your page layout and image presentation, they're a serious contender in the online office space.
But then, you'll have to have an iCloud account to use it — free if you have a Mac or iOS device, but otherwise you're out of luck. And then, there's no way to collaborate with others outside of emailing files, something that is quite the step backwards from Google Docs. But it is pretty, and does format documents much nicer than other online office suites so far.
So how about you? Will you be using iWork online, or are Google Docs good enough for you?
Apple is set to debut iCloud sometime over the next couple months, their fourth try at cloud-based services after iTools, .Mac and MobileMe. iCloud will feature some pretty major changes to Apple’s software lineup, mainly centring around the syncing of data between devices and iCloud.com. Although the lineup of iCloud services is radically different from MobileMe, the premise is the same: “Exchange, for the rest of us”.
However, I put forward that iCloud is, in fact, a completely different use of the cloud. This isn’t bad, and may actually be a more preferential one for the reasons I’m about to set forward. Change isn’t always bad, and in the realm of cloud data, Apple is pushing an interesting new precedent.