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Apple Updates iWork Suite with Design Tweaks, New Features, Sharing Improvements

In a series of updates rolled out today across iCloud.com, the App Store, and the Mac App Store, Apple updated its iWork suite of apps with design changes in the document editor, new templates, improved Retina display support, and several individual enhancements to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

On iCloud.com, the three web apps (which were last updated in January) have all received improved Retina display support and the possibility of opening documents directly from links in iCloud Mail. The document editor's design has been refreshed, and documents shared from iCloud.com can now be set to a view-only mode that won't allow recipients to edit them; previously, shared documents could always be edited by multiple users with access to a document's link.

Apple brought specific changes to each web app as well, such as improved popup menu support in Numbers and new templates, better text wrap, and the possibility to edit charts in imported documents in Pages.

On iOS, general changes focus on search of documents by name, view-only share options, and z-order settings for bubble chart labels. Full changelogs below.

Pages

  • New "view only" setting lets you share documents you want others to view but not edit
  • Search documents by name
  • Inline images and shapes in table cells are preserved on import
  • Better placement of inserted and pasted objects
  • New Arabic and Hebrew templates
  • Improved support for bi-directional text
  • Word count for Hebrew
  • Improved ePub export
  • Control the z-order of bubble chart labels
  • Usability improvements

Numbers

  • New "view only" setting lets you share spreadsheets you want others to view but not edit
  • Search spreadsheets by name
  • Progress indicator for calculations
  • Control the z-order of bubble chart labels
  • Faster CSV import
  • Improved Microsoft Excel compatibility
  • Usability improvements

Keynote

  • Use your finger to illustrate on slides as you present
  • New "view only" setting lets you share presentations you want others to view but not edit
  • New portrait layout option in presenter display
  • Search presentations by name
  • New transitions and builds: Object Revolve, Drift and Scale, and Skid
  • Control the z-order of bubble chart labels
  • Export to PPTX format
  • Detailed presentation import feedback
  • Improved animation performance
  • Improved bi-directional support: switch direction for text, lists and tables
  • Usability improvements

On the Mac, where the new iWork apps were criticized the most following their launch in October, there are several substantial changes. Pages received media browser improvements, section support in the page navigator to edit, delete, and reorder sections, inline images and shapes in table cells preserved upon import, and copy & paste improvements, among others. Numbers has been updated with new controls in print setup, the ability to create custom data formats and table styles, and drag & drop for CSV files into a sheet. The new version of Keynote has improved Presenter Display layouts and labels, new transitions and builds, motion blur for animations, and support for animated GIFs in slides.

As with the iOS and iCloud updates, iWork apps for OS X can now generate view-only links for documents from an updated sharing menu.

Pages for OS X

  • New "view only" setting lets you share documents you want others to view but not edit
  • Delete, duplicate and reorder sections using the page navigator
  • Inline images and shapes in table cells are preserved on import
  • Copy-paste style improvements
  • Better placement of inserted and pasted objects
  • Improved Instant Alpha image editing
  • Media Browser improvements, including search
  • Improved AppleScript support
  • New Arabic and Hebrew templates
  • Improved support for bi-directional text
  • Word count for Hebrew
  • Create custom data formats
  • Control the z-order of bubble chart labels
  • Show rulers as a percentage of document size
  • Improved text box behaviour
  • Improved EndNote support, including citations in footnotes
  • Improved ePub export
  • Usability improvements

Numbers for OS X

  • New "view only" setting lets you share spreadsheets you want others to view but not edit
  • Set margins in print setup
  • Create headers and footers in print setup
  • New printing options: page numbering, page ordering and zoom
  • Create custom data formats
  • Create custom table styles
  • Drag and drop a CSV file directly into a sheet
  • Automatically update an existing table by dragging in a CSV file
  • Control the z-order of bubble chart labels
  • Cell-based import feedback
  • Improved text box behaviour
  • Media Browser improvements, including search
  • Improved Instant Alpha image editing
  • Improved Microsoft Excel compatibility
  • Improved AppleScript support
  • Usability improvements

Keynote for OS X

  • New "view only" setting lets you share presentations you want others to view but not edit
  • Improved Presenter Display layouts and labels
  • New transitions and builds: Object Revolve, Drift and Scale, and Skid
  • Improved Magic Move including text morphing
  • Apply motion blur to animations
  • Show rulers as a percentage of document size
  • Improved Instant Alpha image editing
  • Media Browser improvements, including search
  • Directly specify start and end points of movies
  • Create custom data formats
  • Export to PPTX format
  • Improved AppleScript support
  • Control the z-order of bubble chart labels
  • Support for animated GIFs
  • Detailed presentation import feedback
  • Improved animation performance
  • Improved bi-directional support: switch direction for text, lists and tables
  • Allow objects on slide to layer with master
  • Improved text box behaviour
  • Usability improvements
The three Mac apps also received AppleScript improvements, which, as shown in the screenshot above, bring new capabilities for scripting and automation with additions to the AppleScript dictionary of the suite.

When Apple released new iWork apps for OS X in October, the launch was met with a fair amount of criticism due to iWork 09 features that the company had removed in the transition to the new, fully 64-bit versions for iOS and OS X. Notably, AppleScript support was lacking when compared to iWork 09, and the company itself later recommended to keep old apps installed alongside the new iWork for users who depended upon advanced features such as scripting support.

In November, Apple then promised that more features would be brought back to iWork on an ongoing basis, and today's major update marks an important milestone for the company in bringing the iWork suite back to the original feature set while also adding brand new options to the apps. Today's update comes just a few days after the release of Microsoft Office for iPad, which was welcomed by Apple CEO Tim Cook at launch.

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