Editing on a Tablet, 2013 Finale: Pages
For the last several weeks, I have been investigating and testing the options for editing on a tablet. My software priorities have been distilled enough now to reveal that I judge potential editing systems mostly by these three features: 1) compatibility with MS Word and its tracked changes, 2) stability and an intuitive or familiar interface, and 3) access to cloud storage. Lesser priorities include a pleasant design, collaboration abilities, formatting options, and affordability.
Apps that cover the basic needs of editors are still few, and I am admittedly surprised to report that the two best options I’ve found are only available on the iPad. [Full disclosure: I'm generally a PC and Android user.] This review was going to report a tie, but with an announcement by Apple today, their iWork’s Pages app overtook Office2 HD for the top spot.
With the latest updates, iWork files are now fully compatible across all iDevices. And even before the update, our own Mark Allen noted (and my experience and tests confirm) that moving between Pages and Word rarely causes issues—format, edits, tracking, comments, etc., remain intact. Pages is a stable, full-featured word processor with a clean and pleasant interface. How does it do on the other priorities?
Real-time collaboration, based in iCloud, was the big add with this update. Seen as a Google Docs competitor, the real-time collaboration is a nice touch as an addition to the other features. Google Docs, along with several other systems, never became a strong contender for this series because of its lack of full features, tracked-changes compatibily, and storage flexibility.Although real-time collaboration is tied to iCloud, Pages files are relatively easy to save to other cloud storage locations. Choosing “Open in another app” lets you save your document as a Pages, Word, or PDF file in Dropbox, Drive, Evernote, or other locations. The other surprise in today’s announcement: “iWork and iLife are now free with the purchase of every new Mac or iOS device.” For those who don’t have an iPad on their Christmas list, the app is available on iTunes for $9.99.
Verdict: Very good. With an external keyboard, it is even comfortable enough to use for moderate to heavy editing for more than just a few minutes. Simply put, Pages is as good as it gets right now for editing on a tablet.
You may also be interested in: Microsoft Office Now on iPhone but Not Optimized for iPad and previous posts in the Editing on a Tablet series.