Macworld 2009: Apple unleashes iWork ’09 and cloud-based iWork.com beta

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Macworld 2009: Apple unleashes iWork '09 and cloud-based iWork.com beta

San Francisco (CA) – Those who were waiting for cloud-based iWork application suite can now celebrate as Apple just announced its iWork.com service that accompanies an updated iWork ’09 office productivity suite enabling online document sharing and editing across platforms.

Apple also added several new features to the desktop iWork version that most customers required, although nothing Earth-shattering. With iWork ’09 and an accompanying free iWork.com beta service, Apple is essentially competing with the likes of Google Docs, ZoHo Office and Microsoft Office Live.

Presentation software Keynote is enhanced with new slide transitions that include sleek Swing effect that flips through images in the style of TV commercials. New chart effects, including stone and wood charts in 3D, further tweaks an already strong visualization feature of the software.

The new Keynote remote application for iPhone or iPod touch connects wirelessly with a Mac to enable slide control. The application shows current Keynote slide in portrait mode but when the handset is turned upside down, landscape orientation lets you view two slides at once. To move through slides, users simply swipe their finger back and forth.

Word processing application Pages adds 40 new document templates and a new full-screen view that maximizes the editing area while pushing all controls and user interface elements outside screen boundaries.

Dynamic outlines and connectivity with math applications, called MathType and EndNote, round up a solid feature update in Pages.

Spreadsheet application Numbers has a new Table categories, 250 number-crunching functions with function view that uses color coding for formatting complex formulas. In addition there are advanced charting options that include multiple axis, error bars, trend lines and mixed chart types.

Apple also unveiled cloud-based version of iWork that accompanies desktop applications. A dedicated iWork.com button in each respective desktop application lets users enter email addresses or address book entries with whom to share a document. The application then uploads the document to iWork.com and emails the chosen contacts.

Recipients of the message click on a link to view shared document via a web browser on their Macs or PCs. Users can add notes to the document and edit it (just like Google Docs) and the owner of the document is notified of the changes directly in their desktop application.

Phil Schiller said that iWork.com is the beginning of a new service. Because it’s still a little rough around the edges, the service carries the beta label for now, and anyone can sign up free of charge.

The new iWork ’09 requires Mac OS X Leopard and it starts shipping today. Single and family pack licenses cost $79 and $99 respectively, but prospective Mac buyers can get a single license version for $49 when they buy a new Mac.