Apple Pages for iPad, iPhone review

In a free upgrade, Pages gets an iOS 7 makeover and much more. We check out the streamlined document creator that’s made for sharing.

The iOS 7 version of Pages has been rolled out. Free with a new iOS device or as an upgrade, it’s a rebuilt rather than rebadged version of the app. Designed for 64 bit devices, it’s intended to fly on the iPad Air’s new A7 chip. It’s not exactly sluggish on older devices either.

It’s fair to say that Pages for Mac and Pages for iOS have moved closer in terms of functionality this time around. The 64 bit code base is common to the two apps, with both sharing similar new features. A more cynical reviewer might suggest the iOS version of Pages is the main beneficiary here. It certainly looks better than the last version of Pages on iOS, which suffered from surfeit of brown and beige. Read more Apple iOS app reviews.

Read about the latest updates to iWork: Pages, Keynote and Numbers, and troubleshooting advice

The emphasis is firmly on layout with the new Pages for iOS. Tools for formatting and styling documents pop-up when you need them.

Now Pages is brought into line with iOS 7’s flat design aesthetic and it looks the business. Clean, uncluttered and with acres of white space.

The word processor part of Pages has had the Toolbar moved from the traditional position at the top of the document to just above keyboard. It’s a choice that makes reviewing completed or in progress documents a cleaner experience.

The clutter’s all there if you want it back. Word counts, rulers and so on. And in time honoured iOS style you can turn on help to see tool tips that’ll help you work with the app when you’re new to it.

But is it any good?

Apple Pages for iPad, iPhone: Layout

Curiously, Apple still pitches Pages as a word processor. There are word processing features, for sure. On screen word counts, a built in dictionary, pagination and formatting tools, find and replace are present and ready to correct. But it would be fairer to call Pages a document processor. It has, and has always had, tools built in for creating documents with more flamboyant layout features than your bog standard text cruncher.

The iPad feels like an instinctive device for making layouts and, really, that’s what Pages is all about. Posters, reports with lots of charts and graphs, newsletters and learning materials are easy to churn out with the tools provided. That includes access to all your iOS photos and media. You can also create Numbers-style charts, draw basic shapes and create tables. You can also, easily, wrap text around any graphic object which is more of DTP feature.

Templates across the new versions of Pages are consistent, underlining the easy workflow between web, tablet and desktop.

The preset text styles in Pages continue the theme, with a choice of ready to use headings and copy styles that are suited to heavily visual documents.

Layouts invisibly generate boxes that can be adjusted as you add content to a document. Make them visible and you’re able to adjust the arrangement with finer control. resizing margins and boxes with a pinch or two.

Apple Pages for iPad, iPhone: Collaboration

With a lot of big changes to cover, one of biggest from a user perspective is sharing. Much has been updated here, with some options removed and others added. Sharing to iDisk is now deprecated with no complaints from us. You can still send a copy of a document direct from the app via message or mail - and that’s where you’ll find iTunes and WebDAV now. More powerfully, you can open pages documents in other apps, including Google Drive and Dropbox. Pages converts to a format you can use with the chosen service first.

Collaboration comes via iCloud. Your documents are automatically saved to the service so all you have to do is share a link to enable editing. Chosen team mates can edit in the online Pages beta, on the Mac version or another iOS version. You can also share in Word format. The ability to easily add comments to documents comes in handy here.

Finally, Pages for iOS supports AirDrop to and from other iOS devices - but sadly, not from iOS to OS X. Sort that out, Apple.

Using Pages for Mac and for iOS side by side, it’s clear that there are similarities - but there are differences too. This is not just the one size fits all approach that some software developers have been attempting (we’re looking Windows 8, Microsoft).

Still there are occasions where the workflow clunks a little, especially in Documents view where it’s not always clear how to perform certain functions. In other places, there’s hand holding you don’t need. The dialogue box that pops up when you click on an iCloud document that you’ve previously edited on a Mac tells you that you’re about to edit in iOS, for example.

But, this is more than an upgrade. It’s a new version one, really. Bugs and interface issues are to be expected. What really matters is that Pages does a better job than its predecessor when it comes to creating documents on a tablet - and that it does.

OUR VERDICT

If you already own Pages or have a new Apple device, the upgrade is free. Otherwise, it’s £6.99. Pages isn’t perfect, but it’s good value. If you’re getting free, then it’s a serious challenge to more astronomically priced office tools.

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