I love Apple’s iWork apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I prefer them over Microsoft Office, and I know of lots of other folks who do the same. Unfortunately, Apple has let the apps languish for some time, though that may be changing.
A recent Apple job posting (http://tinyurl.com/ba8rzyw) is for a senior user interface designer for iWork. Apple is looking for a “brilliant problem solver, quick study, self starter, and excellent communicator with a passion for great design and the ability to achieve it. The candidate possesses that rare blend of interaction design, visual design, and prototyping skills.”
Apple is also looking for a senior software engineer for iLife (http://tinyurl.com/a8drml6). The candidate should be someone with a “passion for creating user interfaces.”
The two job postings may hint at upcoming versions of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand that will showcase new interface changes as overseen by design guru, Jonathan Ive. Last October it was announced that Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across Apple, in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design.
The last major update of the iWork components was in 2009. iLife’s last big rev was in 2010.
What’s more, last week it was announced (http://tinyurl.com/ax2qesr) that Apple has acquired a portion of Maya-Systems’ patents relating to axis-based user interface technology. The acquisition included 18 patent properties of Maya-Systems, leading some to speculate that Apple is planning iWork Pro — an “Office killer.”
Naturally, Pages, Numbers and Keynote aren’t going to “kill” Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, they could offer more serious competition. In addition to interface improvements, the apps — especially Pages — could load faster. And an even better ability to import/export Office docs would certainly make the iWork software titles even more successful.
Of course, if Apple really wants to make its iWork apps Office competitive, it will have to port them to Windows. Whether Apple wants to invest the time and money in this is questionable (after all, the iLife apps do just fine, thank you, with no Windows versions). Still, making Windows versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers makes sense for a variety of reasons.
The main one is that a Windows version of iWorks would mean more sales of the software. More sales would equal more money to invest in further development of iWork. Apple could then truly turn iWork into a serious Office competitor for those folks who don’t need all the bells and whistles of the Microsoft software — and most folks don’t.
Apple could still make the Mac version of iWork “special” by hooking into Mac OS X and iOS features. The company has (sorta) done this already with Safari and iTunes. Perhaps this is a trend that will continue.