Apple’s own Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps for the iPhone and iPad (sold separately) comprise what Apple calls its iWork for iOS trio of apps. These apps are unique in a handful of ways.
First, Pages transforms your iOS mobile device into a full-featured word processor, while Numbers allows you to perform highly complex calculations and manage spreadsheets, and Keynote allows users to create, edit, view, and showcase digital slide show presentations.
Second, Pages allows users to create, edit, view, and manage Microsoft Word-compatible documents, while Numbers offers compatibility with Microsoft Excel, and Keynote is compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are also fully compatible with the Mac editions of these three apps, which are available separately from the Mac App Store.
When used in conjunction with Microsoft Office apps on a PC or Mac, files can be transferred to and from an iOS mobile device in a handful of ways, such as via email or the iTunes Sync process.
Third, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote offer full iCloud integration. When any of these three iOS mobile apps are used in conjunction with their Mac counterparts, files can be synced and transferred via iCloud. This happens automatically and in the background. So, if you create a document using Pages on your Mac, for example, within seconds after saving it, the latest version of that document will be accessible on your iPad and/or iPhone.
Documents and files created using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote can automatically be stored within a user’s iCloud account. Thus, the files can be accessed anytime by visiting http://www.icloud.com, logging in with your Apple ID and password, and clicking on the iWork icon. This can be done from any computer or Internet-enabled device.
By offering file compatibility with Microsoft Office, as well as iWork for Mac, and by giving users the ability to save and view their documents and files in a universally compatible PDF format, it has allowed people to get work done while on the go using their iOS mobile device, and are often able to leave their laptop computer behind.
Fourth, the Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps are all AirPrint-compatible. Thus, you can wirelessly transfer and print documents and files created or being viewed using your iPad or iPhone, as long as an AirPrint-compatible printer is available on your wireless network. Details about AirPrint-compatible printers from HP, Epson, Brother, Canon, Dell and other companies can be found on the Apple website.
Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for iOS are available from the App Store ($9.99 each). However, after you purchase each app once, it can be used on all of your iOS mobile devices (including your iPhone and iPad) that are linked to the same iCloud/Apple ID account. Since these apps were first introduced by Apple back in 2010, they have been updated multiple times.
Each new update had added new features and functions to these apps, allowing users to become more productive while on-the-go, because their documents and files are more compatible and more easily transferred between their desktop computer, notebook computer, iPad and iPhone.
Among the latest enhancements made to Pages, Number and Keynote are the ability to track changes within the body of a document, just as you can using the Microsoft Office or the iWork for Mac software. This allows for easier collaboration with others, plus gives users the ability to make changes to a document or file but easily see what was changed from the original content, even as documents and files are transferred between computers and mobile devices.
This ability to track and view changes is fully compatible with Microsoft Office documents and files, so a Word file can be imported from a PC or Mac, changes can be made on an iPad, for example, and then the file can be shared with others or returned to the PC or Mac. All of the changes made along the way (by each person accessing them) will be visible and trackable.
Other recent additions made to these apps include full iOS 6 and iPhone 5 compatibility, and the ability to open and view documents and files created using Pages, Numbers, or Keynote within other compatible third-party apps. In the past, it was possible to import a table, graph, or chart created using Numbers, for example, into a Pages document or Keynote presentation. This inter-app compatibility has now been extended beyond the iWork for iOS apps.
One way this new feature can be used is to share documents and files via Dropbox, an online cloud-based file sharing service that offers some features not currently offered by iCloud, such as the ability to share files and documents with others (on a password protected basis) in order to collaborate on work from separate locations. Using iCloud, only computers and iOS mobile devices that are linked to the same Apple ID/iCloud account can share files.
Dropbox is fully compatible with PCs, Macs, iOS mobile devices, and Android mobile devices. Setting up an account, which includes a 2GB of online storage space, is free. Additional online storage can be purchased for a monthly fee, starting at $9.99 per month or 100GB. From a computer, visit http://www.dropbox.com. Using your iPhone or iPad, access the App Store and download the free Dropbox app to set up and use a Dropbox account.
Meanwhile, in early-January 2013, Microsoft updated its Microsoft Office 365 service and began making its Microsoft Office suite of applications available to PC and Mac users (with up to five computers per account) for a flat monthly fee starting at $9.99. Each Office application was updated to offer better automatic file syncing with Microsoft’s own SkyDrive cloud-based service. A free SkyDrive app is currently available for the iPhone and iPad from the App Store.
While Microsoft’s Office 365 website now makes reference to Microsoft Office for iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad, the company has not officially announced these apps or release dates for them. When released, however, these apps will offer full file compatibility and seamless syncing between iOS mobile devices, PCs, and Macs running Microsoft Office.
Until official Microsoft Office apps for iOS devices are released by Microsoft, accessing, importing, creating, or viewing Microsoft Office files on an iPad or iPhone requires using the Pages, Numbers, or Keynote apps (for Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and files respectively), or using another third-party app, such as QuickOffice Pro HD ($19.99) or Documents To Go Premium ($16.99), which are available from the App Store.
Whichever apps you wind up using to handle your word processing, spreadsheet management, and/or digital slide show presentations on an iPhone or iPad, this functionality becomes much more practical if you use your iOS mobile device with an optional Bluetooth keyboard (as opposed to the virtual keyboard offered by iOS 6).
Utilizing an external and optional keyboard allows for much faster and more accurate touch-typing and data entry. You’re also given access to keyboard-based navigational arrows (up, down, left, and right), which allow for better precision when it comes to navigating your way around a document, compared to scrolling with an on-screen finger swipe.
Priced between $50-$150, optional iPhone and iPad keyboards are available from a handful of third parties. Some offer a full-size keyboard, while others offer a more portable, but tactile QWERTY-style keyboard option. Brookstone, Zagg, and Logitech each offer keyboard options. You’ll find these and other keyboards sold at Best Buy, Apple Stores, office supply superstores, and consumer electronics retailers.