Hands On with Pages for the Apple iPad

Many claim that the iPad will revolutionize the way we consume magazine content and while we do enjoy reading magazines on our iPad, we do believe the best is yet to come. What about when it comes to creating content? Will this device be great for creating and editing brochure and poster layouts? To give creating this sort of content a whirl, we knew just what app we had to use. Last week we took a look at Keynote, on Wednesday we look at Numbers, and today, we look at the iWork app just right for creating documents, Pages.

Pages '09 is is part of the iWork suite for the Mac which also includes is made up of Keynote '09 and Numbers '09. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are sold separately for the iPad at the price of $9.99 each. Pages was actually the first part of iWork that we really embraced. With its beautiful templates and multiple editing options (especially when it comes to fonts) we quickly fell in love. Pages for iPad combines many of the things we love about the desktop application with the simplicity of Multi-Touch.

Opening the App
Just like Keynote for iPad, Pages opens with the document manager, which allows you to easily see at a glance your existing documents or create a new one. Like the desktop version, Pages comes with 16 Apple-designed templates, which you can use to create all sorts of documents, from reports to flyers. Like pretty much everything on the iPad screen (except when it is viewed outdoors in direct light), documents in Pages look good. Text is crisp, clear, and very readable.

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One of the slightly quirky things about Pages for iPad is that when you rotate into widescreen view, you lose editing options. In order to get the editing options, the iPad needs to be in portrait view. This is not a very intuitive part of the software and caused no small amount of frustration when we were trying to get back to our document manager while holding Pages in widescreen view. Clicking on the home button while in a document brought us back to the iPad main screen, and when we launched Pages again we were brought right back into where we were before hitting the home button, the widescreen view of the document with no editing options. It is slightly embarrassing to admit just how long it took us to figure out that we needed to turn the iPad in order to be able to get the editing options and Pages menu.

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The widescreen view is also what causes the large onscreen keyboard to pop up. The keyboard is supposed to track what you type, so it can suggest words, correct spelling, and insert punctuation for you automatically. In our experience of using Pages, it did not make any helpful suggestions. It was akin to using the iPhone keypad, and the suggestions were at times pretty off. To paraphrase the words of a recent NPR radio show participant, does my iPhone know something I don't? His iPhone kept suggesting going for a rutabaga instead of a beer and being so insistent on it that he actually just decided to go for a rutabaga. If you decide that perhaps using the onscreen keyboard is not for you, you can use the optional iPad Keyboard Dock or a wireless keyboard with Bluetooth technology.

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Although typing is not the easiest thing to do on the iPad, making changes to your layout is quite easy. With a few taps on the iPad Multi-Touch display, you can refine your page design. Adding and resizing images, formating text, and creating bulleted or numbered lists is intuitive and only takes a few taps. Moving graphics, as you can imagine, is pretty fun on the iPad. Drag to resize a photo, or twist to rotate a shape, and the text automatically wraps around the object. Pages on iPad has much of the same functionality as the desktop app but with a few glaring exceptions, while it does only take a few taps, to create columns, set margins and tabs, and add headers and footers, adding footnotes is not going to happen. If you are creating documents that rely on footnotes, Pages for iPad is not for you. There is currently no support for footnotes, so even if you open up a document that you created on your desktop in Pages, your footnotes will not be visible in the iPad app. We can see that this omission is going to be particularly bad for those in academia that use footnotes extensively.

Export Options
Pages for iPad exports similarly to the desktop app, you can attach them to an email as Pages files for Mac, Microsoft Word files, or PDF documents. You can also upload them to iWork.com public beta which will allow them to be viewable by anyone on a Mac or PC. If someone emails you a Pages or Word document, you can easily import it into Pages for iPad — ready to review or edit. Just like with the Keynote for iPad app, to add files not through the use of email, you need to use iTunes.

Conclusion
We love editing layouts in Pages, using Multi-Touch to re-size photos and shift images around is fun. Typing is not. Working without footnotes is also not very fun and is a big "con" in our "pro/con" list of why to use Pages. Due to the limitations of the app we think it is best suited for making small changes to documents that have already been created using the desktop application or creating documents that are heavy on images, like posters and brochures. It's a good start, but we think it desperately needs footnote support in order to be taken seriously as a word processing program.

[Images: Joelle Alcaidinho & Apple]

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf.

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Tech, iPad, iPhone, Software & Apps

Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.