Apple plays catch-up, announcing its iWork apps will allow two or more people to work on the same document simultaneously.
The iPhone 7 was always going to be the focus of Apple’s big product launch this week. But what could be the biggest change for business users received little attention.
Apple's iWork – which comprises Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets) and Keynote (presentations) – for OS X and iOS has arguably been the Cinderella of productivity suites.
Keynote might have attracted kudos – after all, it was originally developed for Steve Jobs' legendary keynote presentations, and it's usually obvious when a presenter is using Keynote rather than PowerPoint – but Pages and Numbers have been quiet achievers at best.
The big names in this market are Microsoft Office and Google Docs. A web version of iWork has been available since 2013, but it has lacked an important feature found in Office 365 and Google Apps: co-editing.
That’s about to change.
New versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote will allow two or more people to work on the same document simultaneously. Each person's edits are automatically and immediately reflected on their collaborators' screens. That applies whether they are using the iWork applications on OS X, the iOS apps, or the cloud-based version of iWork via a browser.
Sure, if you don't work on documents as part of a team, this feature isn't much use.
But collaborative editing can get the job done more quickly than the traditional method of passing the document from one individual to the next, or (worse) letting everyone loose on their own copies and then trying to merge all the changes.
The iWork update is “coming soon”, according to Apple. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 updates to iWork were released in the month of October.