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Apple Releases iWork 1.3 With Support for iOS 4.2

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Apple (s aapl) released a fresh update of its iPad productivity suite iWork yesterday, and what makes it worthwhile is that it finally makes Keynote a useful presentation tool. This update supports core iOS 4.2 features such as AirPrint and multitasking. The update also brings better PDF (s adbe) exporting, and provides some fixes for font issues that arise on export.

As mentioned, the update finally brings the iPad into the arena of truly powerful presentation tools: Keynote for iPad 1.3 now supports a presenter’s view of sorts. However, you’re limited in your choices: you can choose to display current, next, current and next, and current and notes. There’s no option for current and next, and notes, which a setting I use on OS X Keynote all the time.

Since previous versions only showed a black screen with slide advancement buttons, though, even this limited implementation is wondrous news. There’s still no support for any sort of Bluetooth remote, but since that would require an update to the core iOS, we’re not likely to see it introduced anytime soon. Allowing an iPhone or iPod touch with Keynote Remote installed to do the job is technically feasible, however, and something I’d like to see in future iterations.

Numbers, the iWork spreadsheet app, now supports formula entry via keyboard, including predictive function selector. You can also set pagination settings to select how a sheet prints across multiple pages, or choose Auto Fit to let the program choose for you. The best part is, PDF exporting also honors those settings, so you can export them and send them to others without fear of sharing a garbled final product. While I’ve never really needed to print from my iPad, this will make sharing PDFs a whole lot easier. Apple also claims “improved reliability” when exporting Numbers ’09 and Microsoft Excel (s msft) spreadsheets.

Changes to Pages, iWork’s document editor, are more modest. Support for automatic pagination of tables that cross page breaks has been added, as has the ever-popular “improved reliability,” which probably amounts to a handful of bug fixes.

I’m thrilled with these changes — especially the ones to Keynote. I have a dream of limiting the times I need to drag my MacBook Pro around with me, and these updates go a long way towards achieving this goal. I’m not getting too excited over printing, what with its limitations, but the fast-app switching works great. The updates are available now.

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