It seems the software wizards at Apple aren't about to rest until every aspect of your computer life is as stylish, elegant, and well-designed as the Mac itself. With the introduction of Pages, Apple has ushered in a new era of word processing style and ease; and with Keynote 2, it improved on the elegant presentation software it released two years earlier.
Together, these two programs constitute iWork '05, a brand-new software suite that'll eventually replace the venerable but aged AppleWorksthat do-it-all bundle of word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation, painting, and drawing programs. For now, iWork has just two components . But when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the new software at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, he said, "With iWork we're building the successor to AppleWorks." Which building blocks are next or when they'll be put into place is another Apple mystery.
Pages flips the concept of word processing on its ear. Instead of starting with a blank sheet of paper and working your way toward a finished document, Pages lets you choose the kind of finished document you'd like to end up with, and then go about incorporating your own words, pictures, tables, and so on. And yet Pages also contains all the modern, powerful word processing features that most people need: columns , sections, headers, styles, tables, spell checker, and so on.
Not that you can't start with that blank page if you want tobut with 40 professionally designed document templates at your disposal, you may rarely need to. Templates in word processing programs are nothing new, of course, but the documents you create with the classy and colorful Pages templates make you appear to have an art department on your payroll.
iWork follows the path blazed by the iLife programsand generations of kindergarten classes: it's important to work, play, and share well with others. For iWork this means that all your pictures in iPhoto, songs in iTunes, and movies in iMovie are always instantly accessible to incorporate into your Pages document or your Keynote presentation. iWork's sharing also goes beyond these Apple programs, allowing you to import and export a variety of other file formats.
Keynote 2 brings a host of improvements and new features to a program that's been called "the best thing to happen to presentation software since PowerPoint!" Keynote arrived in 2003 in an attempt to break the stranglehold on boardroom and classroom presentations that Microsoft PowerPoint has enjoyed since the Pleistocene era. By taking advantage of OS X's advanced graphics, Keynote 1 demonstrated how a presentation could be beautiful as well as informative. And it featured something perhaps even more valuable than the gorgeous graphics and stunning transitions: ease of use.
Keynote 2 fills in many of the voids that existed in the original program and adds, among other things, more themes, text animations, a presenter display, a kiosk mode, and the ability to export to Macromedia Flash for creating Web animations. Building a great presentation takes careful planning, good writing, and tight editing. Keynote 2 simplifies the process of design and layout so you can focus on content. And when it's time to revise , rearrange, update, or repurpose , Keynote 2 lets you make the changes quickly and easily.
Although Keynote is definitely trying to take over the boardroom in the presentation software smackdown, Pages isn't trying to be a Microsoft Word killer at all. For the complex word processing features that the publishing industry, professional secretaries, and others demand, Word's still the reigning champ. But for a huge number of people who struggle each day with Word's bewildering array of choices, menus , and foiblesnot to mention its high costPages offers a breath of fresh air.