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Apple iWork apps now free for all (even Windows users)

Apple iWork becomes a true rival to Google Docs and Microsoft Office

Apple has made its iWork apps available for free via the web browser, bringing the company into direct competition with Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office web apps. The Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheets software and Keynote presentation app are all available as part of the new iCloud beta.

Users can sign in with an existing Apple ID or create a new one for free on the site, giving non-Apple device users access to the apps for the first time. In 2013, Apple made the iWork apps available for free to anyone who bought a new iOS device, but this latest move indicates that Apple has much wider ambitions for its productivity suite. 

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Like most of the online office suites, Apple’s web apps are fairly light on features compared to their desktop equivalents. They are, however, capable of producing very attractive documents and presentations. Pages comes with a decent library of stylish templates for creating documents such as newsletter, flyers, CVs or even business cards. It’s very easy to manipulate images within Pages documents, and there’s a range of smart graphics effects, such as creating shadows or reflections around images that make it a cut above most browser-based word processors when it comes to presentation.

Keynote has an equally appealing set of templates to choose from, which make the drab, old-fashioned selection available from Google Slides look embarrassingly Neanderthal. The app includes a full range of transitions, although there’s no support for inserting videos into presentations and the app warns that it’s currently not available in British English, which essentially means “organization” will be left untouched by the spell checker.

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Documents can be downloaded from the browser in a number of formats, including PDF and the .docx format used by Word, although some of the Apple fonts aren’t carried across to Microsoft’s word processor. The apps will also create PDFs for printing files locally. 

As with its rivals, iWork allows you to save documents to the cloud and pick up editing on the relevant apps on your iPhone or iPad. Users who haven’t yet upgraded their devices to iOS 8 are warned that they must do so to continue getting access to their iCloud documents.


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