The Grave Unhappiness Wrought by the Failure of the iWork Pages Update
My introduction to Apple was through the iPhone. I had always regarded Apple products as glorified toys—pretty but only semi-functional—but I had to admit that the iPhone made good on its promise of simple yet sophisticated elegance. Then came an iMac. At first, I ran it with a Windows partition, switching back and forth between OS X, the Apple operating system, and Windows. Eventually, I scrapped the Windows bit altogether. It was at about this time that I started using Pages as my preferred writing tool. It is not as sophisticated as a dedicated page layout program like Quark or InDesign. But it is pretty capable and far more elegant than Word.
All of which is to say that I was as pleased as anyone when I heard about the new version of Pages. Step by step over the last few years, I have become an Apple enthusiast. The iMac soon had the company of a Macbook Pro and then an iPad. What did it for me was opening up my first Apple laptop. I’d been through this drill with PC laptops many times and was prepared to spend the better part of an evening getting it to play nice with our home network and printer (Drivers: remember Windows Drivers?). But when I turned on the Apple laptop, it instantly found our home network and printer. I was up an running in a couple of minutes. To adapt the old Apple slogan: It Just Worked.
One of the things I liked about Apple stuff was its design. Hardware and software both seemed very well thought-out. Simple. Elegant. Yet also very capable. The software tended to have a clean, easy-to-use, almost minimalist interface. But scratch the surface and you’d find it could handle all sorts of complex tasks. Like many users of Pages, I was expecting more of the same with this latest release. What we got instead was a crippled version of the software—scores upon scores of basic features have been removed in order to make it work seamlessly on the iPad and iPhone.