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Apple Reworks iWork for Small Biz

Just about the biggest small-business news out of Apple at Macworld Expo  which opened today in San Francisco  is a whole lot of improvements to its iWork software suite.
Just about the biggest small-business news out of Apple at Macworld Expo  which opened today in San Francisco  is a whole lot of improvements to its iWork software suite.iWork '09 is a set of integrated software applications that's the main commercial competitor to Microsoft Office on the Mac. If your business' focus is seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office for Windows, then you'll want to stay with Microsoft 2008 for Mac. Although iWork '09 offers file format compatibility with Microsoft Office, in a mixed company, it's best to use the same applications cross-platform as much as possible.

However, if you're looking for the best darned business productivity apps for the Mac, bar none, then you should take a serious look at iWork '09.

Now, considering that I've only seen iWork '09  but haven't use it personally  what I'm going to describe is based on Apple's documentation. (There is a free trial available, and I look forward to testing it out.) The price of iwork remains really low, compared to Microsoft Office: $49 when if you buy it along with a new Mac, or $79 otherwise. That's an incredible bargain for a commercial-grade application suite.

The three main applications in iWork are Pages (which is a cross between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher), Numbers (similar to Microsoft Excel) and Keynote (similar to Microsoft PowerPoint).

According to Apple:

Keynote 09 introduces Magic Move, which allows you to apply a simple transition to automatically animate the position, scale, rotation and opacity of any image, graphic or text that is repeated on consecutive slides. New text transitions morph text from one slide to the next. New advanced object transitions animate objects off one slide while simultaneously animating objects onto the next slide with a choice of effects. 3D charts now include cylinder shapes, beveled-edge pie charts, new textures and four new 3D build effects. The Keynote Remote application, sold separately in the App Store, lets you view slides and presenter notes and control your presentation with your iPhone or iPod touch.

Pages 09 Full Screen view lets you focus on your document without any distractions and reveals the menus, format bar and page navigator only when needed. Outline mode includes templates that help to quickly build the framework for your document and allow you to collapse, expand and rearrange elements, even inline graphics, with ease. MathType 6 support lets engineers, mathematicians and students easily add sophisticated equations to their documents and EndNote X2 integration lets users add and edit comprehensive bibliographic references. Pages 09 also includes 40 new Apple-designed templates, including newsletters, posters, certificates and coordinated stationery.

Numbers 09 provides a great way to quickly categorize data by column, which you can then collapse, expand and summarize to easily make sense of large sets of data. Numbers 09 makes formula writing dramatically easier with an enhanced function browser which includes built-in help for over 250 functions, and visual placeholders with tool tips that explain each variable in a formula. Use the new Formula List to view all formulas in your entire spreadsheet and jump directly to any formula cell with a single click. Expanded chart options include mixed chart types, two-axis charts, and the ability to apply trend lines and error bars. Numbers charts pasted into Pages or Keynote are linked, and can be updated with a single click.

Sounds great, eh? I can't wait to try it! By the way, if you're catching up on Macworld, be sure to catch Jennifer Moline's preview, "What Macworld Means For Smaller Companies."

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer