Ars Technica Reviews The New iWork

23 November 2013

Ars Technica:

Apple does get one thing very right in this area: you can now zoom your iWork documents using pinch-to-zoom on your trackpad, the same way you can zoom webpages in Safari. You can even zoom in on objects by double-tapping the trackpad with two fingers. It’s a dream come true, a huge boon when working on a small screen or on any screen if you quickly want to zoom in to align two objects. In the case of Keynote, the ability to pinch to zoom the slide means that you can no longer resize objects by pinching them—a reasonable tradeoff.

Over the last month, a handful of people have asked me whether I like the new iWork or not.1 I think the best way to respond is to say that iWork represents a tradeoff of a lot of secondary functionality for big gains in very few areas. Liking the product will depend on whether you appreciate the improvements enough to overlook the missing features.

I formed that sentence carefully. I don’t think ‘overlook’ can be substituted for the word ‘outweigh’ here. Big features (like page counts) are absent. If any of these regressions are mission-critical to what you need to do, then — frankly — you are screwed.

When rumours of a re-architected iWork suite surfaced, my primary interest was to see if scrolling had got better. I’m obsessed with responsive scrolling — I crave iOS level performance to be universal on OS X too. At least for me, the culled feature set is not a deal-breaker. Therefore, it’s all worth it. Zooming and panning using the glass trackpad of my MacBook is an absolute joy in the new Pages.

1 I didn’t mention it on this blog at the time, because I wasn’t sure what I felt.