iPad face-off: Microsoft Office vs. Apple iWork vs. Google Apps

iPad office apps, round 10: Microsoft Office and Apple iWork get big upgrades for the iPad's new multitasking capabilities

The other shoe has dropped: Apple recently revised its iWork productivity suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) to take advantage of the split-screen multitasking introduced in iOS 9 for select iPad models. Microsoft had done the same several weeks earlier in its Office 365 productivity suite (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).

But both Office and iWork are about much more than split-screen multitasking. Apple also revised iWork for OS X and for iCloud (its Web version), deepening the suite across all three platforms. Microsoft likewise recently released Office 2016 for Windows and now has its Office suite available across Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android, as well as on the Web (via Office Online), all sharing the same large core set of capabilities. Microsoft has had a series of updates to Office for iPad over the last several months that have beefed up its capabilities.

Microsoft Office and Apple iWork for iPad in split-screen mode

Both the iWork and Office suites support iOS 9's split-screen multitasking on compatible iPads. You can now move between two running apps, such as to copy information from one to the other or to get or check data in one that you might need when working in the other.

Both companies treat their mobile apps as siblings to their desktop apps, and it shows. As a result, InfoWorld is applying the same evaluative criteria to the mobile versions of office productivity tools as it does to the desktop versions. They're now all simply office apps. The scorecards here reflect that change.

What about Google Apps? Google pioneered the collaborative platform, using Web apps to break down the computer-based silos in productivity suites. For several years Google has offered mobile apps to extend those capabilities beyond the desktop browser. But Google has done very little with its Google Apps suite (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) for some time.

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