Pages 4 for iOS

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iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS - Glenn Fleish­man

With Pages 4 for iOS, Ap­ple has shifted the app’s fo­cus from be­ing a fancy word pro­ces­sor with mod­est page-lay­out tools, to some­thing that’s sub­stan­tially more. Even as the app broad­ens its range of tasks, Ap­ple also im­proved ex­ist­ing ones that lagged or were in­com­plete. As a re­sult, Pages is a stronger over­all app, and it also of­fers greater co­or­di­na­tion and par­ity with the new Pages for macOS.

Book cre­ation

Pages 4 now comes with book tem­plates for cre­at­ing in­ter­ac­tive e-books, pro­vid­ing an end-to-end work­flow in­stead of just an ex­port op­tion. These books can be

nearly as richly ca­pa­ble and in­ter­ac­tive (with a few ex­cep­tions) as those pro­duced by iBooks Au­thor. You can also now cre­ate draw­ings and use the Smart An­no­ta­tion beta for graph­i­cal markup and high­light­ing with ei­ther an Ap­ple Pen­cil or your fin­ger.

Ad­di­tional doc­u­ment help comes from sev­eral di­rec­tions. Pages al­lows a side-by-side page view, once pre­sent in the Mac ver­sion years ago (and now re­stored in the lat­est re­lease), as well as two-page spread lay­outs, a use­ful el­e­ment for book and book­let de­sign. You can cre­ate and mod­ify mas­ter pages used as tem­plates for an en­tire doc­u­ment, and style sheets for para­graphs and char­ac­ters can now be edited and cre­ated di­rectly in the iOS ver­sion – pre­vi­ously, you had to man­age those only in Pages for macOS. And you can switch pages from landscape to por­trait and vice versa – yes, that was miss­ing be­fore.

While not every doc­u­ment you cre­ate in Pages needs book-like prop­er­ties, the fact that ev­ery­thing is pre­sent gives you the flex­i­bil­ity to cre­ate any kind of doc­u­ment in one place, as well as edit any Pages­for-macOS-cre­ated doc­u­ment. I tested Pages for iOS with an iPad Pro us­ing a key­board cover, and it felt much more like a first-class cit­i­zen and full-fledged app than any pre­vi­ous ver­sion.

That said, I’m not sure iOS is an ideal place to cre­ate and edit any­thing more than ba­sic lay­outs, be­cause the touch-based in­ter­face makes it very easy to move el­e­ments around by ac­ci­dent and hard to po­si­tion them pre­cisely, even with the many kinds of snap-to guides Pages of­fers. I found my­self con­stantly tap­ping the undo but­ton. It may be heresy, but a mouse is an eas­ier way to po­si­tion ob­jects than your fin­ger.

A Ruler op­tion in Pages for iOS doesn’t ac­tu­ally dis­play rulers in my test­ing, nor can you set col­umns or guides on a doc­u­ment’s mas­ter pages. In the Mac ver­sion, rulers dis­play as ex­pected and you can drag page guides out of them to aid with po­si­tion­ing el­e­ments. This may be an iOS bug or in­tended fu­ture im­prove­ment, and if avail­able would im­prove the touch­based ap­proach when mak­ing books and other lay­outs.

Ap­ple Pen­cil sup­port

Ap­ple played up the new op­tion to add draw­ings to a Pages doc­u­ment, whether via an Ap­ple Pen­cil or with a fin­ger. It’s def­i­nitely a ben­e­fit to add sketches and draw­ings to a Pages doc­u­ment di­rectly, whether you’re a stick-fig­ure con­struc­tor or have il­lus­tra­tion skills. But Ap­ple pe­cu­liarly re­lies on a sub­set of stan­dard markup tool­kit, which feels in­ad­e­quate rel­a­tive to even some of the sim­pler stand­alone draw­ing apps. It’s not that Ap­ple should have put a full sketch­ing en­vi­ron­ment into Pages, but I’m not sure this is ro­bust enough to let peo­ple add ad­di­tional value into their doc­u­ments.

The com­pany also opted to not sup­port pres­sure sen­si­tiv­ity with the Pen­cil, which feels like an odd choice. In­stead, you have to dou­ble-tap a draw­ing tool to se­lect thick­ness. This seems to dis­able one of the Pen­cil and iPad Pro’s com­bined flag­ship fea­tures with­out of­fer­ing a ben­e­fit.

Smart An­no­ta­tions are listed as in beta, and like­wise rely on draw­ing, although here it’s an over­lay on your doc­u­ment, where any graph­i­cal items you add by Pen­cil or fin­ger stay fixed to the point you marked and move with them. They also sync per­fectly to Pages for macOS,

although you can’t cre­ate new Smart An­no­ta­tions there (at least not yet). And sim­i­larly strangely, us­ing the Pen­cil with Smart An­no­ta­tions does al­low a mod­est de­gree of pres­sure re­sponse – not nearly as much as in a draw­ing pro­gram, but it’s pre­sent.

Pre­sen­ter Mode and more

The Pages up­date in­cludes a hand­ful of mis­cel­la­neous ad­di­tions, too. Any­one who has used their iPhone or iPad to of­fer up the text for a ver­ba­tim speech they are de­liv­er­ing, or notes they need to con­sult while speak­ing, will ap­pre­ci­ate a new Pre­sen­ter Mode. It turns Pages into a scrolling, high-con­trast text-only dis­play that you can set to move au­to­mat­i­cally from slow to fast, and tap to pause and re­sume.

You can en­able an Au­to­cor­rect op­tion and type frac­tions that have spe­cial drawn ver­sions in the

type­face you’re us­ing, and Pages au­to­mat­i­cally con­verts them. If you use charts and graphs in Pages, you can ex­cit­ingly make use of pie charts, while ta­bles have gained con­di­tional high­light­ing based on val­ues. And Box doc­u­ment-shar­ing users don’t have to rely on iCloud for col­lab­o­ra­tion, but can work through Pages doc­u­ments stored on that ser­vice as well. Fi­nally, Ap­ple has added in hun­dreds of shapes, from mi­cro­scopes to di­nosaurs, all of which are ed­itable.

Some fea­tures could use more ex­pla­na­tion than that found in re­lease notes and the func­tional-but­thin help files for Pages. For ex­am­ple, a new im­age gallery op­tion makes lit­tle sense for page lay­out or word pro­cess­ing, and the how-to in­struc­tions give no in­sight on how you might use it. In fact, it’s an in­ter­ac­tive fea­ture that only works in Pages and when ex­ported to EPUB.

And I found one con­sis­tent show­stop­per: when­ever I at­tempted to use the All Photos al­bum to add me­dia, Pages froze and even­tu­ally crashed. I use iCloud Photo Li­brary and have over 37,000 pieces of me­dia in it. What­ever the quan­tity, this kind of flaw shouldn’t hap­pen with re­leased soft­ware from Ap­ple. Worse, in­ter­me­di­ate changes made sev­eral steps be­fore the crash are lost, in­stead of au­tosaved lo­cally or to iCloud.

Ver­dict

Wel­come ad­di­tions and some long-over­due ones com­bine to make Pages 4 for iOS a ma­jor up­grade, with doc­u­ment and book work­flow, edit­ing, and man­age­ment fea­tures that push it far be­yond the pre­vi­ous re­lease, mak­ing it a much more vi­able al­ter­na­tive to other apps and the desk­top ver­sion of Pages for macOS. But keep an eye on what’s the best use of a touch-based in­ter­ac­tion and edit­ing to make the most of this app.

Pre­sen­ter Mode in Pages of­fers a man­u­ally or au­to­mat­i­cally ad­vanc­ing prompter

While you can’t use pres­sure sen­si­tiv­ity with the Pen­cil, you can get good re­sults from the re­stricted set of tools with some ef­fort

A new mas­ter page mode al­lows cre­at­ing unique page tem­plates within a doc­u­ment with re­cur­ring items and page for­mat­ting

Pages for iOS now sup­ports side-by-side page views as well as de­signed twopage spreads

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