iWork - Apple's productivity/office software package for Mac, comprising the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet package and Keynote, its PowerPoint killer - was last fully updated back in 2009. Will the next version of iWork be launched at Apple's iPad press event tonight, 22 October? iWork for iCloud is down, and all the evidence points to an iWork update during tonight's iPad launch event. Updated 22 October 2013
A firm indication that iWork is going to get some kind of update at tonight's iPad launch event comes with the news that iWork for iCloud is down, with a notice announcing that "We're updating Pages for iCloud!"
"In just a few short hours, you'll be able to create and edit documents, and enjoy great new features," the notice adds.
Will iWork be updated at tonight's iPad launch event?
The last version of iWork for Mac - Apple's answer to Microsoft Office - was released well over four and a half years ago, on 6 January 2009. Since then the company has introduced versions of the apps for iOS, and added compatibility with iCloud, but apart from that Apple's office suite has been untouched.
Apple has sent out invitations to a press event tonight, which is expected to focus on the next versions of the iPad and iPad mini. Could we hear about the next version of iWork as well?
We'll know the answer to that question shortly after 6pm UK time tomorrow - follow the event live here on macworld.co.uk - but there are several announcements that we think are more likely. Apple will almost certainly lead with the iPad 5, alongside the iPad mini 2, and we also expect news about Mac OS X Mavericks and the new Mac Pro. That's leaving aside the possibility of new iPods, MacBooks and a new Mac mini.
The next version of iWork is long overdue, and being a software release, could be slipped into a launch event without details leaking out in advance. Maybe Apple would view an iWork update as such a non-glamorous announcement that it would just drop it into the end of another product's unveiling. But we'd guess that there's so much for Apple to talk about tomorrow that iWork will be a low priority.
Another possible hint - and I think we'd call it no more than that - is the unexpected 'leaking' of new iWork icons by Apple itself.
These appeared briefly on Apple's website, then disappeared. (There was also a footnote that said GarageBand would become a free download for all iOS 7 devices, joining iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Numbers and Keynote - although there will be optional in-app purchases for users who want additional instruments or sounds.)
It's possible that these are just an aesthetic update of the icons to fit in with iOS 7, and won't affect the software itself. But if that was all Apple wanted to do, we can't see why it's taken this long. Either way, we'll find out tomorrow if Apple has an updated version of iWork for us.
Read on for more rumours and hints about when the next versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote will be released.
When are the next versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote coming out?
Apple hasn't made any official announcements about iWork '14 (or whatever it ends up being called), but there are some clues and hints out there, not to mention a whole lot of rumours and speculation. In this article, which we'll keep updating regularly until either Apple releases a new version of iWork or the sun swallows up the earth, we scan the available evidence for clues to when iWork '14 will come out.
Keep checking back for updates and rumours surrounding the launch of iWork '14, or whatever Apple calls the next version of iWork.
So. When will Apple update iWork?
Pages '09, part of the iWork '09 software suite
iWork for iCloud
In fact there is an imminent iWork update that we know about: iWork for iCloud, which Apple has said is coming in the autumn of 2013. And it looks like it'll be free, too. But we're not sure how useful it's going to be. In our iWork for iCloud preview, we write:
"iWork for iCloud is an impressive technological achievement, but none of that matters a whit if the apps don't address users' actual needs. The main selling point of iWork for iCloud seems to be bringing the ability to read iWork documents to Windows, but to me, that's only a hat tip to a much larger issue: collaboration. It's great that Windows users can collaborate more easily on documents made with iWork, but what's missing is any mention of real-time, simultaneous collaboration. It simply didn't come up. At all. Which, when you think about it, is a bit shocking."
A little like Microsoft's Office 365, or Photoshop Express, iWork for iCloud is designed as a free, cut-down version of a showpiece software package that everyone will be able to access, but it won't offer the full iWork experience.
iWork for iCloud is slated for release this autumn, part of what we suspect will be a hefty raft of Apple launches.
iWork '14 release date
But when will the next desktop version of iWork be released? Well, for one thing Apple has left a longer gap since iWork '09 than after any other iWork suites: previous versions came out in 2005, 2006 and 2007. What's more, in the past iWork has traditionally come out at the same time as an iLife update, but when iLife was updated in 2011, iWork didn't get an update.
In other words, the next version of iWork is seriously overdue.
What about time of year? Apple usually releases new versions of iWork in January, shortly after trailing them at a press conference (iWork '09 was available on the same day as being announced). The only exception was iWork '07, which bucked the trend with a mid-summer launch.
People have been predicting an update to iWork '09 for years, but it's about time for an update. So while the first rule of Apple predictions is that nobody knows anything, based on what's happened before - a mug's game - we think January 2014, or very late 2013, could be the time.
Or it might not.
iWork '14 release: Apple hiring iWork designers
Earlier this year, in the run-up to WWDC 2012, we thought an update to iWork was imminent, when it emerged that Apple was advertising a number of positions in the iWork team, including, crucially, a bug tester.
Apple was advertising for 'imaginative and visionary' iWork designers in February 2013, and new job listings appeared in May, including a software QA engineer to "work on the next generation of Desktop, Mobile and Web application/services." This employee's focus was expected to be bug detection, among other things, suggesting they would be testing a new version.
iWork didn't get a new update at WWDC, sadly, but the hires strongly suggest that Apple is working on something new for iWork. That could just be iWork for iCloud, however.
Will iWork for iCloud replace other versions of iWork?
It is conceivable that Apple might continue its push on to the cloud by shifting its iWork efforts away from the desktop entirely, and never release another desktop iWork suite at all. But for the reasons mentioned above, we suspect not: there are good reasons why iWork for iCloud and iCloud desktop (whether '09 or a later vintage) will work well together. iWork for iCloud is intended to serve a different function: a collaborative tool rather than a creation-focused one.