Many of you may have read my recent article titled ‘How the iPad failed me at university‘. I outlined some of the problems I’d encountered using the iPad to take notes and help me with assignments, and one of my primary gripes was with Apple’s Pages app for iOS. Yesterday it was announced that Microsoft would be holding an event on March 27, with Office for iPad a hot topic of expectation. As you can imagine, I’m very excited about the prospect, but I do have some concerns, and here I’d like to expound a few features I think would be sure to draw me away from Pages on iOS, and over to Office.
1. Drop the 365 subscription
The only thing worse than paying for something, is paying for it twice. Initial reports are suggesting that much like its iPhone equivalent, Office for iPad will require an Office 365 subscription in order to edit documents. As you well know, Pages is totally free on iOS, and includes free iCloud synchronisation with web browsers, which is a really big deal. If Office for iPad requires a 365 subscription, I won’t even consider the switch. That may sound a little rash, but to use the app I’ll be forced to fork out £59:99 (almost exactly $100) to simply try this app out, which is a pretty expensive gamble if it turns out to be sub-standard. I know it’s unlikely that Office for iPad will be released outside of the 365 system, but for me it will be a deal breaker.
2. A better layout
The layout of Pages for iOS isn’t terrible, but it can often feel like one is zig-zagging across the screen to achieve fairly menial tasks. For example, Pages controls for bullet points, title layouts, indentations and alignments are in 3 different corners of screen. Personally I find myself using nearly all four in conjunction with each other on a regular basis, if Office for iPad can pick up on ease of use and make things simpler, I would certainly consider that a big advantage over Pages.
3. Make it work with images
Pages’ use of images is perhaps one of its most troublesome feature. For one, synchronisation with your camera roll and your photo album is often bug riddled, with many images just failing to show up. If Pages does manage to find the images you’re looking for, placing them can be even harder. If Office for iPad can deliver solid integration with the images on your iPad, and offer a more intuitive way to place those images and incorporate them into your work, then score one more to Microsoft.
4. Fix Copy and Paste
Using Pages, I’ve found it totally useless at handling text that’s been copied and pasted into a document. Secret Illuminati code often makes its way into my work as I move between documents and handouts, which is inconvenient, if not a little disconcerting. It often changes specific letter combinations into symbols, or even numbers, and converts bullet points into pictures, whilst at the same time managing to lose all the original formatting. Furthermore, Pages will not accept copied images, which is something I’ve sorely missed. Copy and Paste is such a basic task in word-processing, but Apple managed to totally ruin it, this is another area where Microsoft could push Office ahead of Pages.
5. iCloud compatibility
Okay, I know this one is a long shot. As I mentioned before, Pages’ compatibility with iCloud is a really big deal, and it works fantastically well. Obviously, because Office is a Microsoft product, Microsoft would much rather you used SkyDrive. Office for iPhone is compatible with SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro and Sharepoint. Obviously, if you’re using Office on the iPad, chances are you’re heavily invested in iCloud already, so I reckon that iCloud compatibility for Office would make the transition much easier. Without it, much of my own work would be stored in an ecosystem outside the one I’m accustomed too, and I would find it tiresome switching between the two, especially because of the way university life calls for a fluid transition between work and “other stuff”. Such hardship I have so far managed to avoid by using Pages, iCloud on Office would significantly alter my feelings towards Office for iPad, perhaps even to the point where I would consider relenting on point number one…
Do you have any suggestions or thoughts on Office for iPad? What features would make it better or worse than Pages? And what would mean you would certainly (or certainly not) switch over from Pages, or your own favoured word-processing app? Leave your thoughts and comments below!