Why iWork '13 Full-Feature Parity is a Big Deal

When Apple announced their new iWork '13 suite of productivity apps (Keynote, Pages and Numbers) at their October 22 event in San Francisco, they talked about "full-feture parity". While most heard Eddy Cue talk about this, I doubt that most people really understood what that meant, and how it will directly impact how they work. Let me explain.

First, let me explain the problem. When you have a version of an app on multiple devices, each app needs to be developed independent of the others. There are functional differences and limitations to each device, making it very, very difficult to match each app to its sister app on another device feature-for-feature. This can lead to feature disparity. As an example, let's look at Keynote. There are certain animations and transitions that were available on the Mac version of Keynote that were not part of the iOS version of Keynote. In other words, the apps did not have feature parity between them. 

This made it difficult when working on the same document from one device to another.  I'm a mobile worker, and I would bet that most people reading this are mobile workers as well. Sometimes I work on a laptop sitting on a desk, and sometimes I work on my iPad or iPhone on the go. When I created a Keynote file on my laptop (which has a rich set of features), it wouldn't look the same when I opened the file on my iPad. This is because the iPad version of Keynote was missing some of the features that I used on the desktop version.

Because of this, I was forced to create a work-around. For me, I decided that any document I created on my Mac was only to be updated on my Mac. Likewise, any documents created on my iPad were only to be updated on my iPad. It was kludgy and inconvenient, but it worked. 

Now that iWork '13 has full-feature parity between all devices, this is no longer an issue. Full-feature parity means that the iOS version of Keynote has 100% of the features that the Mac version of Keynote has. This means that I can feel 100% confident knowing that a file created on my Mac will look exactly the same when I open it on my iPad (and vice versa). 

There is a dark side to full-feature parity. As I mentioned before, it's still difficult to develop feature-rich apps for iOS. As a result, Apple decided to omit some of the more complex features from their iWork '13 suite until they can develop a better way of doing the same thing. This isn't the first time we've seen Apple do this. Think back to when they made the transition from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X. The video industry was up in arms over the fact that some of the features were missing from the new version of the editing suite. As expected, those features eventually made their way back into Final Cut Pro X, and better than ever. It just takes time. Similarly, the few features that are missing in iWork '13 will return, better than ever. It's a game of patience.

Posted on October 28, 2013 and filed under Opinion, Mac.