Review: Apple's iWork for iCloud is elegant but limited
Apple's online productivity suite is exceptionally polished and easy to use, but lacking in word processing and spreadsheet featuresFollow @woodyleonhard
A major iWork update on April 2, 2014 introduced a "view only" setting for shared documents, allowing specific users to watch but not change the docs. At this point, there's no way to view tracked changes or comments, and you can't create hyperlinks in iWork for iCloud documents -- at least not in the usual way. However, hyperlinks will be automatically generated when you type something that looks like a URL.
All told, Pages for iCloud has most of the functions most people will need, but many meat-and-potatoes features found in Word Online or Google Docs aren't there. You can't include comments or perform the sorts of page layout tricks you can manage in Word Online.
That said, Pages for iCloud is very easy to use, streamlined, and clutter-free, buoyed by the remarkably consistent interface among all three iWork apps.
Numbers for iCloud
Numbers for iCloud treats tables much like any other element on a page -- text, graphics, and charts all intermingle with tables. Numbers provides extensive click-to-apply cell formatting, and it shares the same muscular formula editor found in Pages and Keynote for iCloud. You can autofill a sequence of numbers (or some text entries, such as days of the week) by entering the first two items in the set and dragging down the drag handle in the lower right corner.
By default, Numbers continues text within a cell by expanding the size of the cell, but if you want to "flow" text into the next cell, you can do so by unchecking the box marked Wrap Text in Cell in the Cell tab of the table formatting pane. Built-in data entry tools include a slider, a stepper, star rating, and checkbox, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Numbers for iCloud's built-in slider control, with checkbox and star rating formatted cells above, makes for easier data entry.
You can create hyperlinks and re-order sheets. Numbers for iCloud does not support pivot tables or pivot charts, as you'll find in Excel Online, although there are more complex ways to accomplish the same objectives. Like Pages, Numbers has a "view only" setting that allows other collaborators to look but not touch.
For those of you accustomed to starting a new spreadsheet and being presented with a gazillion empty rows and columns, the Numbers approach will feel odd at first: Drag a new table onto a spreadsheet, and you get a modest grid, which can be readily overlapped with another modest grid. Once you get used to it, the ability to put multiple tables on a single sheet becomes mighty handy, and in most cases it's much easier to use than Excel's split screens.
Keynote for iCloud
Many people who use Keynote for iCloud prefer it to the desktop version of PowerPoint. Keynote for iCloud has almost as many features as Keynote for Mac or iOS, it's easier to use than desktop PowerPoint, and it works much like a Pages document. Click and drag to add items to slides, then edit much as you would in Pages.