iWork.com Beta Updated, Still No Editing

The iWork.com team at Apple sent out an e-mail to registered users today touting new accessibility from Apple mobile devices and more sharing options for all. However, the biggest feature, really the only feature that matter — editing documents — remains missing.

Carefully not introduced as an online productivity suite designed for collaboration, the iWork.com beta site has existed as little more than an online repository for sharing iWork documents. The only real advantage over simply e-mailing documents has been the ability to comment via sticky note and downloading in multiple formats.

More than a year later, the changes have been minimal, and that may be exactly the way Apple wants it.

As of today, “iWork.com allows you to share a document by creating a public link” with an incredibly long URL. However, accessing the public link does not allow the adding of comments or notes. Sharing documents is a little more efficient with a single page for doing so and a counter indicating the number of views for the document.

The other change, likely in anticipation of the iPad, is something that iWork.com should have included from the beginning: a mobile interface.

The new interface has “improved scrolling” and supposedly helps you “find your shared documents faster.” Unfortunately, what it does not do is show comments and notes, making the value of iWork.com even more dubious, if that’s possible. It’s becoming more and more apparent that an online version of iWork akin to Google Docs may not be coming at all. After all, Apple has never suggested iWork.com was meant for anything more than sharing, rather a collaborative online productivity suite was just logically assumed.

Well, the new logic is even simpler, that being iWork.com is cloud storage for the iPad. With the announcement of a native version of iWork for the iPad, iWork.com makes a lot more sense. Instead of syncing with iTunes to transfer documents to your computer, you upload them to iWork.com, hopefully with an option to synchronize in the near future. Apple gets $10 for each iWork App for the iPad and gives away the online storage.

Those waiting for iWork.com to leave beta status and be useful may get the former on April 3, but don’t count on logging into iWork.com and editing documents anytime soon.

Related GigaOM Pro research(sub req’d):

Who Owns Your Data in the Cloud?


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