Web-based versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote, Apple’s answers to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, respectively, can now be used by anyone with an Apple ID. The intention is clearly that the tools will be used across Apple devices, but leaving them open to curious PC users might just tempt a few Windows devotees to see what they’re missing out on. One of the package’s biggest strengths is its capacity to produce aesthetically pleasing documents: the iOS release of Pages was advertised as the most beautiful word processor ever seen on a mobile device.
However, this isn’t just about the age-old rivalry between Macs and PCs. Web-based productivity software is an emerging battleground that several different companies are aiming to claim for their own. Apple has no small task ahead of it if iWorks is to gain any sort of foothold against Google Docs and Office 365.
Apple’s iCloud launched in 2011 as a cloud storage platform which enabled users to back up their data and access it from different devices. Since then, the remit of the service has expanded gradually, but today’s addition of productivity software represents its biggest expansion thus far.
Rather than simply providing tools that supplement the use of Apple devices, iCloud is being pitched as something bigger. Instead of just uploading files to iCloud in order to access them later on, it’s now possible to use software like Pages to do your work inside iCloud itself. Apple likely hopes that exposing potential customers to its own apps and the company’s standard UI will convince them to join their product ecosystem. It’s a strategy not too dissimilar to the way Google ties all its services into one account.
To try out iWorks for yourself, simply head over to the iCloud website and log in with your Apple ID. Pages, Numbers and Keynote will all be available to you, so long as you’ve updated your account to iCloud Drive.