Apple’s Pages for iOS still needs some work

Pages

Apple’s Pages app is my current go-to app for writing. This is mainly because of the ease of using Documents in the Cloud to transfer files between my mobile devices and desktop. My day job and freelance writing business are segregated (day job is on an encrypted laptop). Therefore, for my non-day job needs, I don’t need the full might and power of Microsoft Word. That said, Pages for iOS ($9.99) has lagged so far behind even the OS X version of Pages, I’m thankful that for the most part, I’m just using it to write articles and short stories. While Apple has recently made some changes to its iWork suite of apps for iOS, some of the improvements are only half-way implemented.

Change Tracking

The chief problem for me was that Pages did not show any sort of change tracking, making the app useless if your workflow relies on this feature. The good news is version 1.7 adds change tracking. The bad news: it’s so poorly implemented that it’s still almost useless.

While you now have the ability to review and accept changes on your iOS device, you still cannot use comments. For me, that is the most important part of the review process. Usually, that’s where a reviewer or editor asks questions and there’s a sidebar discussion in-line about the change. So, while I can accept the change someone made, I can’t see the commentary. I pretty much tend to usually “accept all changes” anyway. (I’m not in the legal profession, so your usage may vary).

The current state of change tracking, where comments aren’t handled, isn’t even something I can give Apple partial credit on.

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Editing on the iPhone 5

Before the iPhone 5, editing in Pages on an iPhone was a complete mess. The screen was too small to display a lot of text and the keyboard covered up too much of the page. With the iPhone 5, well, it’s better, but sadly not by much. The chief advantage now is that I can fudge the margins a little bit and have my rows of text span the width of the screen in landscape so I’m not scrolling from side to side to see the text. While I can adjust the zoom level when reading with double-taps, once I edit the text, it zooms in.

Life would be so much easier if I could edit text in the zoomed-out view. So, for the most part I use Pages to refer to documents — meeting agendas, notes, etc. Performing more detailed tasks on a screen smaller than my iPad is something I might need to look at an iPad mini for.

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iOS version still lags behind OS X

Styles still remain partially implemented. While you can choose from a list of styles, you can’t create your own. You also cannot update a style if you want the font to be different, though you can change the font manually.

Tables of contents also remain elusive, which can be a problem if you’ve made significant edits to a document and need to update the TOC.

Final thoughts

Pages for iOS still lags far behind the OS X version of the app.  Since we’re clearly past the myth of iPads existing only as consumption devices, and more professionals are eschewing laptops for iPads, I think Apple needs to seriously step up its game with its iOS iWork offerings. While I can accept that OS X Pages does not have feature parity with Microsoft Word, the lack of parity between iOS and OS X iWork apps is beginning to become tough to handle.

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