iCloud collaboration for more Apple applications?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Today Apple released an update to their iWork for iCloud beta service. 

iWork for iCloud enables OS X and iOS users share design documets, presentations and spreadsheets on the internet so that collaborators can make changes using web browsers running on OS X, iOS X, and Windows devices.

Here are the new collaboration features:

Collaborator list: View the list of collaborators currently in a document.
Collaborator cursor: See cursors and selections for everyone in a document.
Jump to collaborator: Instantly jump to a collaborator’s cursor by clicking their name in the collaborator list.
Collaboration animation: Watch images and shapes animate as your collaborators move them around.

[for a list of further new features visit Apple's support site]

iWork apps aren't productivity apps any more

Although Apple calls this service iWork for iCloud Beta, they no now longer refer to iWork as a product on their website. http://www.apple.com/iwork now redirects to a page named 'Apple - Creativity and Productivity Apps' that page includes information on the three apps that used to be part of the iWork suite: Keynote, Numbers and Pages. It also lists the three apps that used to be part of the iLife suite (http://www.apple.com/ilife). The address of the combined page: http://www.apple.com/creativity-apps (which defaults to the iOS versions).

Perhaps the iWork brand survives in the service name because it was named earlier this year. When the service goes out of beta it might get a name change. The only other place Apple mentions the iWork and iLife is in the corporate definition that appears at the footer of every Apple press release:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

[More on Apple's evolving corporate definition since 1995]

Grouping iLife and professional software with iWork in this definition prompts the thought that Apple's online collaboration service might expland to include more Apple applications.

iCloud collaboration services

The new features show that iCloud can share collaborator events with very fine granularity. Instead of seeing the results of a colleague's edit once they've finished, you can see animation showing them making the change. You can also jump to the part of the publication, spreadsheet or presentation a collaborator is working on - so you don't miss their work if it is distant from where you're editing.

iWork for iCloud collaboration was big news in the Summer - it was seen as a catchup to Google Docs and a threat to Microsoft Office. It got the biggest demo at Apple's October announcements.

Apple doesn't act as if it is interested in people's work life - they don't court corporate purchasing. They want individuals to drive the adoption of their hardware, software and services. They leave corporate integration to others. 

Instead of treating iCloud as a big Google-like computer and filing system, Apple may see it as a conduit for making individual apps and tools work better.

I'm looking forward to iCloud for iPhoto, Garageband, iMovie, Aperture, Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X...