iWork on the iPad: what's good, what's not

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iWork on the iPad: what's good, what's not

Is iWork the next best thing to Office on the iPad? Anthony Caurana explains what's good and not so good about iWork for iPad.

If you use an iPad or a Mac and use Apple's office apps - Pages, Numbers and Keynote - then you'll have found a software update waiting for you in the App Store.

These updates bring some handy features, like improved Microsoft Word compatibility for documents on the iPad and better print layouts.
But is iWork the next best thing to Office on the iPad?
There are two things to consider:
  • What's the best application to use?
  • Which app makes saving and sharing documents easiest? 
To put it simply, you want to be able to open, edit and save documents to the Internet.
There are three major ways of doing this on the iPad:
  • Apple's iCloud service does this, to a certain extent. While this works with Apple's apps, other developers need to build this capability into their own applications.
  • If you use Dropbox, then the iPad app must have the ability to save your file to Dropbox. Some office apps like Office2 HD do this quite well.
  • Alternatively, you can use Microsoft's SkyDrive for storage and the Office Web Apps to edit documents although this requires a connection to the Internet to work. Although, there are rumours of an iPad version of Office that could arrive in early 2013. 
The trouble with the non-Microsoft apps for the iPad
These apps, such as iWork, can open and edit Office documents (here is an extensive list of iWork's compatiblity with Office documents), but they don’t support all of Office's features.
For example, if you have a Word document with complex formatting like embedded tables, then some of that formatting might be either lost or scrambled in iWork or other apps.
If you choose the Office Web Apps, which has the best compatibility wikth Office files, then you're stuck with a web-only solution. 
In other words, there is no perfect solution yet.
What do we use?
This writer tends to use the Office Web Apps on the iPad most of the time because of the compatibility issues.
But when travelling and not connected to the Internet, we use either iWork or Office 2HD on the iPad and then transfer documents to SkyDrive so we can easily access them on other systems. 
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