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Apple and Microsoft: the battle for businesses

iLife and iWork grow up • Cloud collaboration comes to office apps • MS Office for Mac and iOS threatens Apple

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There’s no denying that iLife and iWork have grown up. These powerful software triads have been carefully developed and pruned over the years, and we’ve seen popular services like iWeb shorn off in favour of a tighter, more integrated suite of apps. We’ve witnessed the migration of these apps across to iOS and this year we had the announcement of iWork for iCloud, which promises to put Pages, Numbers and Keynote in the cloud so that we can use them with just our browsers and Apple IDs – a move that brings Apple in line with similar movements made by Google (Docs and Drive) and Microsoft (Office 365). Will it be enough, though?

iWork for iCloud is an important step, not least because it’s one already taken by Apple’s competitors. Jon Gordon, Editor of iCreate, said that ‘while the majority of iDevice owners are essentially a captive market – consumers who are interested in how the iPad, iPhone or iPod can improve their daily lives, and who appreciate the fact that bespoke apps for editing photos, keeping spreadsheets and making movies are available directly from Apple – there is another tier of users who are more discerning about their software choices due to the nature of the usage they will be putting it through. Professional photographers, for example, might prefer Adobe’s Photoshop Touch to iPhoto’. Similarly, when it comes to businesses, there are so many fully-featured alternatives available – such as Quickoffice Pro HD – that no matter how gorgeous iWork looks, it needs an edge if it’s going to win over those power users who face cheaper, occasionally more powerful apps.

The most recent development– iWork for iCloud – allows users to finally collaborate on documents through the cloud and work on them from any Safari browser, thus making Pages, Numbers and Keynote useful to business owners in a way that it simply wasn’t before. After all, it doesn’t matter how good AirDrop is or whether your financial data is accessible on your iPhone if the only thing you really need to do is work together with someone online, preferably in real time. Moreover, we are now beginning to see far more focus on businesses – and schools, for that matter – as the intended recipients of these new boons in Apple’s marketing. With any luck, Apple may even begin to garner their interest, and more importantly their continued support, before Microsoft roll out Office 2013 for Mac and its companion iOS apps. Indeed, this may be the biggest threat to Apple’s flagship applications yet.

One publication that has always championed the role of iLife and iWork in the world of Apple is The Mac Book. Its latest, ninth volume has been carefully curated by Imagine Publishing in order to bring together a collection of creative projects that draw upon combinations of apps across both iLife and iWork. Available now from all good retailers for £12.99, The Mac Book 9 can show you how to record an album in a week, use iCloud to crowdsource a travel guide, how to design an interactive recipe book, film stop-motion animations and much more. You can find out more info at www.imaginebookshop.co.uk.

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