Google Docs and Google Sheets are getting more useful for consumers and enterprises with the addition of third-party tools that enable neat new functionalities.
Mac users angry about Apple's iWork redesign have few options
Apple's massive overhaul of its iWork apps has backfired on the company, with potentially thousands of longtime iWork users complaining that Apple removed key features, broke automated actions and scripts, and caused a wide range of document and project templates to disappear into the ether. Many users have also taken issue with the revamped user interface that does away with a palette known as the Inspector that has been a staple of Apple's iWork and iLife apps for nearly a decade in favor a context-sensitive sidebar that matches the web-based iWork for iCloud beta apps.
The discussion of Apple's motivations has even sparked arguments about whether or not Apple continues to value longtime Mac and iWork users. That question has reared its head in several Apple decisions over the past few years, beginning with Apple's decision to focus its annual Worldwide Developers Conference solely on iOS in 2010 and following with the cancelation of the the Xserve - the company's rack mounted enterprise server product -- a few months later. The launch of Final Cut Pro X garnered very similar responses, and even the redesign of iOS 7 has been controversial.
Now, many longtime users are considering other options for Mac productivity apps. For some, it's a question of genuine need for features or functionality. For others, it's a protest against Apple's heavy-handed decision. If you fall into either camp or you're just wondering about the options to iWork, there are good alternatives -- but unlike the many alternatives for iOS users, there are only a few for Mac users.
Apple took some jabs at Microsoft during last week's event, most notably over $99/year (or $10/month) cost of Office 365, which grants access to cloud-based versions of Office, the ability to install the current Office versions on multiple Macs and PCs, and access to the anemic Microsoft Office for iPhone. Mac users can also purchase Office with a traditional single license starting at $140 for the Home and Student version, which includes just Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, or shell out $220 for the Home and Business edition, which also includes Outlook for Mac.
That's a pricey alternative, but it has advantages. It ensures file compatibility with Office for Windows and allows users to shift more easily between working on a Mac and PC than when using iWork or other alternatives. Scripting and automation features including macros are also supported in the recent Office for Mac releases.
That doesn't mean Office is the best choice, however. There are often feature-parity issues between the Mac and Windows versions of Office. Whole apps -- OneNote, Access, Publisher -- are unavailable to Mac users, and some features in the available apps are absent. Outlook, in particular, lacks some of the collaboration features available to Windows users.
It's also worth mentioning that simply jumping on board with Microsoft offers no more guarantees for the future than sticking with Apple and iWork. When Microsoft released Office for 2008, it came without macro and VBA support that had been included in previous releases (though they were restored in the more recent Office for Mac 2011 release).
OpenOffice is a longstanding open source alternative to Office. Developed initially by Sun and later maintained by Oracle, OpenOffice has split into several different versions, all available for Mac: