Although we do not hear the name « iWork » pronounced anywhere any more, it was the name for the trilogy of the full-blown productivity suite from Apple featuring word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications alternative to Microsoft Office. The “hard-client” version of these applications – namely « Pages« , the word processing app, « Numbers » the spreadsheet app, and « Keynote« , the presentation app – are usually available for free exclusively to Apple customers who purchased at least one of Apple hardware product such as a Mac computer or an iOS-based smart device such as an iPhone or iPad or at what I would call a reasonable price to be purchased separately by old-timers and early-adopters like myself.
However, Apple has also made web versions of these applications back in 2011. As of 2012, the software set was free to any purchaser of a new Apple product – a perpetual license is automatically granted to the associated Apple ID of such a customer so that they can download them for any of their Apple devices from Apple’s App Store.
Very few people know that the web application version of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are actually free for everyone who just signs up to obtain a free Apple ID and get access to iCloud.com (which is also for free) via this Apple ID even if they didn’t (and won’t) purchase anything from Apple. And because the iCloud versions of these applications simply run inside a web browser, you do not necessarily need a Mac or an Apple smart device to use them.
As mentioned above, the alternative “Office” productivity suite consists of “Pages” the word processor which is pretty much compatible back and forth with the files created with Microsoft Word, “Numbers” the spreadsheet solution with artistic style so that aside from creating and working with traditional spreadsheets, you can also create ones which look like product brochures with stylish tables and formatting with an impressive (but not extreme) compatibility with Excel, and the last but not least is the “Keynote” application which is a presentation application that works the “Apple way”. These three applications can import and export most MS Office files (except those loaded with VBScript macros), and they are even capable of producing PDF outputs. With Pages, it is even possible to export your document as an ePub file – great news for self-publishing book authors!
To use these applications, all you need is a browser and an “Apple ID”. Very few users know that on any computer, be it a Mac, Windows PC or Linux/UNIX machine – especially one freshly set up with any applications not yet installed except a default web browser coming along out-of-the-box, one can just log in to www.icloud.com and start working on .doc(x), .xls(x) and .ppt(x) files (or create them from scratch), share them by e-mail (with no e-mail client set up on that very computer) and even export them as PDFs – all just using a compatible browser.
At the time of this writing when Safari 10.1 is a month old since its release, iWork page on Apple’s web site acknowledged that iWork for iCloud works with Safari 6.0.3 or later, Chrome 27.0.1 or later, and Internet Explorer 10.0.9 or later. Although a recent version of Firefox should do fine as well, Apple does not seem to officially support Firefox, neither guarantees iCloud will work fine on it.