iPad Pages is both fast and rock solid. Since the iPad is running a slimmed down mobile OS, iWork Pages opens almost instantly and you start back exactly where you left off when you last used the application. No matter whether you are resizing a photo or changing the font, your every command is carried out almost instantaneously. No slowdowns, no dreaded Windows hourglass, just speed and productivity.
You won’t find a file menu either, and with good reason — you don’t need one. iPad Pages is always saving your work, so you don’t have to worry about constantly hitting the save button to make sure that you won’t lose any work. That’s great news for obsessive email addicts like me — when I hear the new mail ding I feel entirely comfortable hitting the home button on my iPad and launching the Mail app to see what just came in for me. I know that I won’t lose any of the (delightful) prose I’ve written, and when I get back to iPad Pages I’ll be able to pick off exactly where I left off.
If you’re in speedwriting mode, because you’re brainstorming ideas for the next “Great American Novel” then you’ll want to use iPad Pages in landscape mode. When you turn your iPad on its side while running the iWork Pages app, every toolbar and icon completely disappears, and you are left with a completely blank screen, aside from the virtual keyboard. If you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard, as I have been doing to write this review, the virtual keyboard hides itself away, leaving you with a blank canvas to decorate with your prose.
Ease of Use
When you first open iPad Pages, you are presented with a user guide that explains all of the basics of using the app. You are introduced to the toolbar, learn how to apply styles, move and resize objects, insert new tables and graphs, look up words in the dictionary, and upload your finished documents to the web using the iWork.com web site. There’s a lot to take in, but the explanations are all very simple, and you are even prompted to use a few of your skills before you move on to creating your own documents.
Ordinarily I would argue that spending time with the manual isn’t all that important, but with iPad Pages the time investment is worth it. The user interface is quite streamlined, in the interest of simplicity. However, simple doesn’t always mean easy, and I found that iWork Pages has a definite learning curve. It isn’t hard to use by any means, but it does take some time to learn how things work if you want to venture beyond the basics.
Perhaps the issue lies more with me as a Microsoft Word veteran, but I would prefer to have a few more buttons on the toolbar at the top of the page instead of trying to remember whether I should be using the info button, the insert button, the tools area, or a context-sensitive tap and hold menu. Once you spend some time with the app you’ll figure it all out since everything is extremely context-sensitive, but this is the only (very small) fault with what is in practically every other way the ideal mobile word processor.
For $9.99, iPad Pages truly is a no-brainer. I know that price may seem high to folks who are used to free and 99-cent apps, but iPad Pages is a fully featured word processor. It’s also the best I’ve ever used in a mobile context, and I have more than ten years of Palm OS and Pocket PC/Windows Mobile experience. In other words, if you have any interest in creating and sharing documents on your Apple iPad, you need to buy iPad Pages — now.
Pages for the iPad promises to deliver many people from their laptop-toting days, and in large part I believe the program succeeds in that goal. This is especially true when combined with a Bluetooth keyboard! It has many of the basic components that people expect from a word processor, such as the ability to change fonts, including color, size, and style, insert and manipulate photos, tables, and graphs, and it also includes a spell checker.
Will it do absolutely everything that Microsoft Word can do? Of course not; that’s to be understood when you’re comparing a $9.99 app with a fully-featured desktop application. But for the vast majority of casual users, as well as many business users, iPad Pages will do everything you need in an elegant, simplified manner.