Pages 2.0 for iOS review: iPad version mirrors Mac version in ease of use, features
By Jeffery Battersby
At a glance
Like its Mac OS sibling, Pages for iOS is a completely redesigned app that brings to your iOS device the same set of tools and features as the desktop version of the app. This marks a significant—and some have said dumbed down—change to what is possible with Pages on all of your devices. The bottom line is this: there is now no noticeable difference between all of Apple’s Pages app. Each works in almost exactly the same way, offers the same set of features, supports the same file formats, and make it possible for you to bounce, with very little effort, from one app to the next.
It’s important to note that, while all of the apps support the same file formats and the same sets of features, there are differences in the way you interact with documents using each of the apps. In some cases, because of font limitations related to iOS, if you started creating your document on a Mac, it may not be an exact replicas on your iOS device.
Each of these apps ships with the same 60 templates provided with the desktop app. These work as a convenient and beautiful starting point for your documents. I was disappointed to find that the iOS apps lack the Mac version’s option to remove body text from a document, which turns a normal word processing document into a page layout canvas. If you want to use this feature you’ll need to remove the body text on the Mac before you can take advantage of it on your iOS devices.
Pages for iPad
Working with Pages on an iPad is as easy as working with Pages on a Mac and I can see many people using this version instead of, rather than in addition to the Mac version.
Text editing on the iPad works exactly as it does on the Mac although, as was pointed out during Apple’s October event, Pages on the iPad displays a convenient text formatting menu anytime you’re editing text. This is a feature I’d like to see return to the Mac version of the Pages.
Tables, text, images, and other objects are easy to add using the “+” that appears at the top of the document editing window. Anything you add, with the exception of tables, appear as free floating objects, which means you can place them anywhere on the page you please and then choose how you want to have text wrap around them. Tables require a little extra effort if you want them to float above the text. This isn’t a problem as much as it is something that can initially be confusing. You make changes for all objects using the app’s formatting menu, and once you figure this out it’s easy moving forward.
I found editing table data on the the iPad to be frustrating. Unlike Numbers, which offers a simple menu item for changing cell formats, Pages’ cells require you to use the formatting menu to make these changes. For my money, it ends up requiring too many taps for what should be a one-tap process.
Pages for iPhone
Pages for iPhone and iPod touch is hamstrung by the size of the device’s workspace. While it’s possible to create and edit documents using your iPhone or iPod touch, the reality is any extended length editing on these devices is a challenge. For the most part Pages rises to that challenge, making it easier than you might expect to manage images, objects, tables, and text in your documents. But it’s still not easy.
The biggest problem I had working with Pages was when working with page layout documents. Because white space at the edge of documents is at a premium, I often found myself grabbing and moving objects when all I wanted to do was scroll up or down the Page. This was easily remedied using the Undo button, but for me the Undo button was too constant a companion.
Editing text on a phone is far less onerous than is working with documents with embedded objects. As a word processing tool Pages on the smaller devices has a lot to offer. While I’m partial to Markdown text editors such as Write for iPhone, from time to time I find it necessary to work on Microsoft Word documents when I don’t have access to a computer. Pages for iPhone easily handles basic, text-based documents without a problem.
Pages for iOS is a definite upgrade from previous versions of the app, if for no other reason than for the fact that it has full file level compatibility with the Mac version of the app. While it has some limitations with regard to the fonts available on iOS devices, and while editing page layout documents on smaller iOS devices can be a challenge, Pages for iOS offers almost everything you need to create beautiful documents on your iOS devices.