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Last week, Apple announced new versions of its iWork programs (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote). They have been completely re-written so as to be fully compatible with their iOS counterparts (which are also new). But to make all these programs use the same file format, Apple re-wrote them, and in doing so, left out a lot of features that some users had embraced. So there are now many angry posts at Apple forums and blogs decrying Apple’s removal of features. One of the refrains has been “hasn’t Apple learned from Final Cut Pro?”

You may recall that the latest version of Final Cut Pro, X, replaced 7, and was also a ground-up re-write. In doing the re-write, Apple left out a lot of features that power users needed (it was, after all, a $999 program until version X). They lowered the price to $299 and went for a wider audience. In time, Apple has added back in many of the missing features. I haven’t bought version X, so I can’t tell you if it’s now useful or not, as I decided to migrate to Premiere Pro. (Of course, now that I can’t get updates for that, I may need to revisit FCP in the future.) But it has gotten some favorable reviews as features were added back in.

So when I read “haven’t they learned?” I have to wonder the same thing about the posters. Since this was a total re-write, Apple seems to have concentrated on the most important features. There’s a fair chance (but no guarantee, of course) that some if not all of those will make their way back.

And let’s not forget one of the big new features – compatible files across all devices. I don’t know if you tried to work with any iWork files on an iOS device in the past, but it was a frustrating experience. Unsupported features would be dropped or mangled. Your really couldn’t use files on multiple devices – you needed to pick either iOS or Mac and stick with it.

One more important point: you’re not required to use the new versions. The installer doesn’t even remove the old version on the Mac (you are out of luck on iOS, but personally, I found the old iOS versions to be almost worthless anyway – I purchased QuickOffice Pro rather than fight with the iOS iWork programs).

So if there’s something you need that only the old program does – use it! They work exactly the same way as they did before last Tuesday – except for the iOS integration. But as far as I’m concerned, that was already worthless.


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