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Pages for iCloud beta hands-on

Sections: Apple Software, Exclusives, Features, Hands On / First Looks, iCloud, iTunes, Mac Software, Writing / Publishing

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icloud

Before I begin my analysis of Apple’s iWork for iCloud beta, I want to note that I focused specifically on Pages. This is because most users are looking for something that functions similarly to Microsoft Word.

For a long time now, I’ve wondered why Apple hasn’t taken advantage of the iCloud accounts it gives developers and so many of its customers who sign up.  After many months, Apple finally answered the prayers of so many customers like myself and introduced iWork for iCloud at WWDC 2013. iWork for iCloud is an entirely browser based version of the iWork suite that is available in the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store. Currently, developers can log in through beta.icloud.com and not through their normal iCloud accounts.

Despite the fact that the iWork suite works the best on Macs, the iOS version has been pretty handy. The same can’t be said for the browser version. This is because of the log-in process and the different platforms and browsers on which the application has to operate. When customers use applications on an iOS device, they are not routing through a browser (this is the annoying part of cloud based operations). I tested Pages for iCloud (check out the gallery below) for this review, but only because I deemed it was likely the one used most by students, professionals, and avid writers.

I opened Pages for iCloud in three different browsers—Safari, Chrome, and Firefox—and found that Safari worked the best which did not come as a surprise to me. Chrome did an okay job, although sometimes it would lag and throw up the rainbow wheel. Worst of them all was Firefox; maybe the worst experience you may have with a browser based document. I will, however, give Pages for iCloud the benefit of the doubt as it is still in beta mode and has not been fully completed. Instead, I’ll focus on some of the features.

Pages for iCloud Design

The design is very simple, which I appreciated a lot. Apple’s simple user interface from its iOS devices has made it over the browser with iCloud, and although iCloud has been out for a while, it was nice to see the iWork suite sitting there when I logged in. Pages for iCloud opened just like an iOS app when clicked and loaded a separate tab in the browser to run the document. From there, I found it was very simple and easy to use.

At this point, Pages for iCloud looks very plain and simple, although I can’t really see anything else Apple can add to a browser-based document. It functions the way you would expect it to, complete with the side toolbar and all. Some of the buttons did lag, but that can be expected as you’re editing a document on the web in real time. Overall, the dark hue of the web app and the overall design function made me feel as though I was using an iOS device. Apple hit the mark on this one.

Functionality

There isn’t too much to say about functionality as it is still in beta mode, but the transitions between pages was very smooth and I liked the idea of being able to place shapes anywhere with the grid-like system that comes up when you drag an object. This is something Microsoft Word is lacking, and something a lot of users wish they had. iCloud in general is slow depending on the computer you’re using, but Pages for iCloud loaded quickly. It also syncs documents across devices perfectly. I didn’t have any major functionality issues with Pages, except in Firefox.

Overall, I can’t complain as Apple has announced something many iCloud users have wanted; they can now pull up their documents on any computer of their choosing. Editing Pages on Apple devices just got so much easier, especially because you can work off of an iPad and view it on the large screen of your Mac.

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  • Larry

    Apple stated that iWork for iCloud only works on IE, Safari and Chrome. NOT Firefox.

  • David

    iWork for iCloud is supported for Safari, Chrome and IE, NOT Firefox so it’s unsurprising it performs poorly with it. You mention it several times and it is an unfair criticism. A better alternative browser to try (and to report on) would be IE running on Windows 7 or 8.