Pages for iPhone review

What’s the biggest news about the recent update to Pages, Apple’s word-processing and page-layout tool for your iOS device? It’s that the app is now quite small. While it’s a bit easier to share files and change fonts, the biggest change to Pages is that it now works on the iPhone and iPod touch.

It’s hard to imagine using Pages on an iPhone or iPod touch – that is until you actually give it a go. While most writing tools for these devices tend toward the well-designed-but-minimalistic – think Elements or PlainText – Pages offers a fairly complete collection of page-layout and word-processing features without making you feel like you’re trying to create an entire universe on the head of a pin. While we don’t think anyone will be writing reports or essays on an iPhone, Pages on these smaller iOS devices works surprisingly well.

Scale to fit

What makes Pages a worthwhile writing tool on a small iOS device is a feature Apple calls Smart Zoom, which will zoom in on the text that you’re editing while you’re editing it, then zoom out to give you a full view of your document when you’re done. When you’re using Smart Zoom, Pages displays about 10 lines of text and about 40 characters depending on the size of the font you’re using.

While the idea of page layout and word processing on a small iOS device seems crazy, Pages makes it fairly easy to work with images and text on an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

We found this to be sufficient for most of our editing needs, making the text large enough to easily read as we typed, while keeping several sentences on the screen so we could maintain the context of what we were writing. Unfortunately, while it’s possible to work in landscape mode on the iPad, you can’t on the smaller devices.

In terms of features, Pages on the smaller iOS devices offers everything that you’ll find on the iPad. There are differences in the way the apps look: the iPad version has a full menu bar with a new button for changing fonts as well as the formatting tools that have always been available, but the smaller version, due to the size of the screen, has to keep these tools hidden until you need them.

So, to change paragraph styles and text formatting on the iPhone, you first have to select the text that you want to change and then tap the small Info button that appears in the menu bar. When you do, a small window appears below your selected text that, like the iPad’s tool bar, allows you to make all the paragraph and style adjustments that you want to. Adding images, tables, graphs, and other objects to your documents on the smaller iOS devices is easy, although we did find that pictures were super-sized when we first inserted them – so big, in fact, that they were a pain to resize. Tables, graphs, and shapes were handled in a much more graceful fashion.

Once inserted, all the objects offer a number of formatting options from drop shadows and frames to colours and embedded text. As your document grows in size you can drag your finger along the right-hand side of the page and a small magnifying glass appears displaying a thumbnail of your currently selected page and its page number. Dragging your finger up or down lets you quickly navigate to any page in your document.

OUR VERDICT

Pages 1.4 is an amazing word-processing and page-layout app made more amazing when you realise that all of this power is packed into a device that can fit inside your pocket. While it needs true file syncing to make it truly great, as a standalone app for your favourite iOS device, Pages is very impressive.

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