Pages For Apple iPad: A Review
...but here's what you should know before you spend $9.99 on Pages.
I’m sure there’s a slew of you out there who are wondering what Apple iPad applications will actually make you productive, and the first up is always the word processor. Besides, what’s more quintessentially paramount to any sort of productivity than the ability to type and retain words? Pages for the iPad does that job admirably…
…but here’s what you should know before you spend $9.99 on Pages.
Pages is a huge jump from mobile word-processing in the past. It’s not simply just an empty box that saves whatever you can mash into it. It’s actually full of formatting features, from fonts, styles, embedded pictures and pizazz. By pizazz I mean, lots of useful templates for working on resumes, business letters and memos. You can even do footnotes and headers and customize page margins with a very ‘cute’ blue-print style document setup. Drag and drop shapes, charts and tables. Drag and drop, resize. Double tap to edit the data, or tap on a shape to write inside of it. Draw lines, arrows, heck, you can even sketch out a complete flow chart. It feels so right with multi-touch instead of a mouse. When you’re done, you can export to a .pages file (for us Mac users) or a .pdf or .doc file for everyone else.
And don’t worry about saving or losing your work. You can quit the app at any time, and reload it. Your page is always there. Unless you completely delete the thing (which requires two very deliberate clicks), you’ll never lose your work. Every document is ‘cutely’ available to swipe through at a glance with a thumbnailed view, and when you pick one, it ‘zooms’ in and fills the screen. Rotate into landscape mode to block out all the menu bars and type distraction free.
Pages is not…
Still, Pages for iPad is not a copy of Pages from Apple iWork, nor is it a complete replacement for all the heavy lifting you might normally do in a word-processor, but it’s pretty darn close. Some complains and critiques have been that .doc exportation isn’t 100% perfect. I would imagine that if all you had was text, and maybe a picture, you’d be fine, but an complicated file with charts and tables might end up wonky. For best results (if the party doesn’t need to edit the file) simply export as PDF.
Also, for all of Pages great features, it doesn’t let you get too nitty gritty. The ‘inspector’ element on the iWork version of Pages is incredibly robust, letting you tweak a million different things, down to the space between certain letters, paragraphs and indentations. As you’d imagine, your a much more limited on the iPad.
You’re also just very simply limited. You’ve got a set number of colored shapes and tables to chose from. You’ve got a set number of templates to choose from too — 15 to be exact. The iWork version of Pages has roughly 15 templates per type of document — just for comparison.
There’s also this very strange issue where keyboard shortcuts you’ve come to know and love don’t actually work, despite having an external keyboard. Most of us are familiar with using control or command-b for bold, command-i for italics and command-u for underlined. That doesn’t work here. Happily, copy and paste work just fine, but some of the formatting shortcuts that make it easy for us keyboard-jockeys to zip around the page are simply not there. You’ll have to touch the screen.
There’s also a few quirks that were ‘cute’ like mentioned before, but eventually become annoying. Take for example, the thumbnail flicking through documents. This works for a few documents (read: less than 5) but as soon as you start loading up Pages with more and more documents, it gets more and more annoying to flick through them.
There’s also that issue of landscape mode. Distraction free also means menu bar free, and if you need to get back to that menu bar to make that text bold or change the font, you’ll be forced to actually rotate the iPad back into portrait mode. Bummer.
Pages for iPad is totally worth the $9.99 and it’ll definitely change the way you work on the go. It’s a solid foundation for mobile productivity word-processing, and there’s nothing else like it on the market now. Remember, it’s only version 1.0 and Apple has a history of always making things better. I expect a lot of the little quirks and annoyances will evaporate as Pages for the iPad gets updated and adopted more and more. But if you’re a work-horse wordsmith on the go? There’s nothing else like it. Just remember, you’ll want a bluetooth keyboard to get the most out of this app if you plan on using it extensively for real work.
Bottom line? Download it now and don’t look back. Pages for the iPad is a winner.