Apple Promises to Fix iWork Over Next 6 Months

| Product News

OopsApple issued a rare mea culpa Wednesday, one in which it acknowledged the mess that is the recent iWork update and promised to fix it. The company said that during the next six months, it will be restoring features removed from Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, as well as compatibility with files created with previous versions.

In a document called "About the new iWork for Mac: Features and compatibility," Apple said that it released new versions of the apps with new features and blah blah blah.

The important part comes in the third paragraph, where the company wrote, "In rewriting these applications, some features from iWork ’09 were not available for the initial release. We plan to reintroduce some of these features in the next few releases and will continue to add brand new features on an ongoing basis." [Emphasis added]

Apple went further by providing a specific list of such features that will be (re)added to the apps during the next six months:

Pages

  • Customize toolbar
  • Vertical ruler
  • Improved alignment guides
  • Improved object placement
  • Import of cells with images
  • Improved word counts
  • Keyboard shortcuts for styles
  • Manage pages and sections from the thumbnail view

Numbers

  • Customize toolbar
  • Improvements to zoom and window placement
  • Multi-column and range sort
  • Auto-complete text in cells
  • Page headers and footers
  • Improvements to AppleScript support

Keynote

  • Customize toolbar
  • Restoring old transitions and builds
  • Improvements to presenter display
  • Improvements to AppleScript support

It's as if the Pages list was taken from Jeff Gamet's review, but criticism of these updates has been universal.

Apple also pointed out that when iWork was updated, the old versions of the app were removed to a folder called "iWork 09" in your Applications folder. With that came instructions for reverting documents back to previous versions' file format:

  1. Documents that you haven't edited can be reverted to the iWork ’09 version by selecting File > Revert To.
  2. If you have edited the document and want to preserve the edits, you can save it as an iWork ’09 document by selecting File > Export To, then choosing Pages ’09, Numbers ’09, or Keynote ’09.

This is a solid move by Apple.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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9 Comments Leave Your Own

mouring

Interesting thing to note.. Mail Merge isn’t listed.

dhp

Somewhere I read that the Mail Marge functionality was dependent on OS services which are not in Mavericks, so even running Pages ‘09 you can’t do Mail Merge, although it’s still in the menu. Haven’t tried it myself.

furbies

6 months ? Really ?

I’m still on a 1st Gen iPad which can’t run iOS7 so I can’t update the iPad to the latest iWork for IOS, and I foolishly upgraded the iWork Apps on my iPhone 5.

kevinlane

Not to sound ungrateful for Apple’s concern for its customers as evident from this statement, but what about GarageBand?

ibuck

Kevin, GarageBand is part of iLife, rather than iWork. iWork is receiving a lot more media attention since Apple offered the suite of office applications (Keynote, Pages & Numbers) for free with a new Mac or iOS device, which some think challenges MS Office’s dominance and may even threaten Microsoft’s existence. But that remains to be seen.

FYI, Apple has been fairly good about eventually restoring lost features when an app is completely rewritten. You may want to contact Apple to let them know what you think about GarageBand.

Terrin

Seems strange to call a statement buried in its service support a mea culpa (unless the word has changed meaning) or an acknowledgement that iWorks is a mess. It hardly contains an Apple Maps like Tim Cook apology.

The only mistake Apple made, if any, is not communicate to people that the app is essentially a new product based on the old work and gains some features while losing others. Apple would do much better to take a Google approach and call the release of these new products betas.

More to the point. The software is free, and Apple left the old software intact on your Mac. Do some people really think Apple should have sat on the software until it was in complete feature parity with the previous versions of iWork apps? If Apple took that approach, we would still be waiting for OSX to be released as Apple worked on matching feature parity with OS 9.

I for one really like the new software, even though I miss some features and look forward to them being added back. The old versions of iWork apps had lots of GUI elements that were inconsistent with the rest of Apple’s apps.

Some long time Apple followers probably understand what is going on here. The original iWork apps, like Final Cut, Shake, and other Apple apps,  were developed in the Carbon development environment, which Apple no longer supports. Like other application developers such as Microsoft and Adobe, Apple has had to rewrite the millions of line of code all over again from scratch to support Apple’s Cocoa development environment. The old versions of the apps and the features they contained took many releases over several years to mature into the products they were. Consequently, Apple has been slow to bring some of its apps over. Some apps like Shake never made the transition and probably never will. When Microsoft made the rewrite for Office for the Mac, one of the things it initially dropped was scripting support for apps like Excell, which killed cross compatibility with other versions of Office apps.

These things take time, and I think Apple is doing a fine job. I appreciate the new FREE versions of these products. For concerns, I use the provide Apple feedback feature within the apps.

davidneale

Have to agree with Terrin on this. There seems to be a lot of whining going on about an excellent free product and a careful update procedure that maintained the old versions in order to satisfy the needs of all users. Apple played it carefully, but some users clearly didn’t.

Dean Lewis

This happened with Final Cut Pro when Apple released FCP X. They eventually worked features back in as they were able to tsp them and get them redesigned for new functionality present in the new application. In the meantime, people were able to see feature and interface parity with iMovie, whereas before moving from one to the other had a gaping chasm of a learning curve.

This iWork update is about parity between iOS and Browser and Mac versions. I expect features to be reintegrated as they are rethought. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the hell out of the browser-based beta versions and look forward to the direction iWork takes.

Substance

At first Apple seemed to repeat the same mistake that tarnished the release of Final Cut Pro X - releasing a version of heavily-used product with fewer features than the previous version WITHOUT offering guidance on if and when the removed features will be re-introduced.

Apple did better this time by releasing this very clear and informative document only a couple of weeks after the release of the new versions of iWork.  But why couldn’t they release this type of document the day of the release and keep (most of) the chicken littles at ease? 

Apple still has to learn that when it comes to their existing software, keeping their users in the dark on where their future road map is going is to their detriment.

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