Released today in version 4.2, Apple’s iWork suite of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers now supports Siri shortcuts in iOS 12. Additionally, each app scored a handful of new features and improvements, many of which are available across all three apps, while others are app-specific, such as animated drawings in Pages and Smart Categories in Numbers.
The main way shortcuts have been adopted in iWork is for creating new documents from different templates. Each of the existing templates across all three apps will provide their own shortcuts, so you can, for example, save a shortcut for creating a new Note Taking document in Pages, Formal presentation in Keynote, or Schedule spreadsheet in Numbers.
Another helpful shortcut I’ve discovered enables playing a presentation from Keynote. Shortcuts are specific to different presentations, so after you’ve hit the play button on your ‘iOS 12 Talk’ presentation, you should see a shortcut suggestion in Settings and the Shortcuts app to play that same presentation again.
Apple unfortunately hasn’t publicly documented the full list of supported shortcuts in iWork, so new document creation and presentation playback are the only types I’ve discovered so far. Hopefully there are more out there that will be found with additional use of the updated apps, but for now the shortcuts support seems relatively light.
Aside from shortcuts, all three iWork apps benefit from the new ability to easily export drawings to Photos, Files, or any other app via the share sheet. They also all support Dynamic Type for the first time, and as has become custom for recent updates, a variety of new shapes have been added too.
Numbers includes a big new feature called Smart Categories. This enables you to categorize your data in a way that makes it easier to view and understand. Each table can have one main category and up to four subcategories, which can be created by selecting a table, hitting the filter icon in the top-right corner, then choosing ‘Add a Category.’ With categories your data is sorted in a way that can easily be collapsed and hidden, making for a cleaner spreadsheet that’s easier to navigate. I rarely have a need for spreadsheets, but heavy spreadsheet users should definitely give Smart Categories a try.
Pages’ biggest standalone improvement in version 4.2 centers around drawings. In addition to being able to save drawings, you can now make your drawings animate. After creating a drawing, select it and tap the brush icon, then toggle the ‘Animate Drawing’ switch. From here you’ll see a couple new options to adjust the animation’s duration or play it in a loop. Once you’ve animated a drawing, hit the large ‘Play Drawing’ button that appears whenever the drawing is selected. Animated drawings document the creation of your drawing from inception to completion, showing a replay of every step of your drawing process. It’s not a must-have feature by any means, but it’s a nice addition that could be great for education environments especially. The only other Pages-specific change is improved Smart Annotation.
Keynote is the odd app out this update cycle, with its only solo improvement being the addition of two new options for presenters: adjusting text size for presenter notes, and inverting colors while presenting.
Today’s update for iWork is relatively minor compared to the kind of updates usually shipped alongside a major new version of iOS, but it still includes a handful of useful improvements that move Apple’s productivity suite in the right direction. I’m especially happy about shortcuts support being added on day one; I’m hopeful there are more shortcuts available that I haven’t discovered yet, but even if not, it’s nice not having to wait for a later update to start benefiting from shortcuts.