Pages full review

Pages, along with Keynote and Numbers, form the triumvirate of apps in Apple’s iWork office suite. Like other office suites (particularly the famous one from Microsoft) iWork enables you to create stunning looking documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

We’re looking at Pages here, which is Apple’s word-processing application. Sold separately on the iTunes store for $9.99 (expected to be £5.99 in the UK). The presence of Pages on the iPad turns the device from a entertainment plaything into a work power... well not quite powerhouse, but certainly a more industrious house than the iPhone. Word processing is the bedrock application of any office, and without Pages the iPad would be pure entertainment; with it – it’s a work tool.

What’s key here is the iPad’s touch screen interface, and of course the presence of a virtual on-screen keyboard. This review is in many ways partly about the Pages application itself, but it’s also about the iPad itself, and whether it truly can replace a laptop for work-orientated tasks.

We’ve already tested Pages out in a work setting. Anybody who read our recent iBooks review is also looking at Pages on the iPad in action, because we wrote all 1,247 words of it using Pages on an iPad using the virtual on-screen keyboard.

The conclusion? It’s perfectly possible to write up a serious, reasonably lengthy article on an iPad using the keyboard. We wouldn’t stretch to calling it ‘fun,’ and there are definitely limitations compared to a real keyboard, but it’s certainly something we could consider doing on a regular basis. When we last tried to do this using an iPhone and QuickOffice app we barely managed to finish the review, and had to correct all the spelling mistakes afterwards using a desktop word processor.

To do a more thorough and somewhat scientific keyboard test, we typed out a page from a book – in this case the first page of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger – and timed how long it took using Pages on a Mac, and Pages on an iPad. The text in question uses italics, bold font, indentation and plenty of punctuation; the rule was that the Pages document on both Mac and iPad had to be exact. No typos, errors, incorrect punctuation and so on.

Unsurprisingly, the process was much faster on a Mac using a keyboard:


179 words
Time: 3:41.86
48.6 words per minute


179 words
Time: 9:05.88
19.71 words per minute

Note: Thanks to the ever-wonderful Wolfram Alpha for crunching the words-per-minute score. If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, you should.

So you can expect to be roughly a third as productive on an iPad as a MacBook. At least when using the on-screen keyboard, as we all know the iPad has a Keyboard Dock arriving soon, and you can sync up with Bluetooth keyboard and we really do suggest you explore these options if you plan to do any serious writing. But the key thing is that it’s possible to write accurately on the iPad virtual keyboard, even if the process is slower.

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