Apple overhauls productivity suite, takes iWork out of beta

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Apple overhauls productivity suite, takes iWork out of beta
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Can now use interface features in OS X and iOS.

Apple has updated the free office productivity suite bundled with its desktop Mac OS-X and mobile iOS operating systems, adding several new features designed to lure users away from Microsoft and Google.

The desktop editions of the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet and Keynote presentation applications can now use the Split View multitasking interface feature that lets users display two different documents side by side in OS X 10.11 "El Capitan".

Users with Force Touch trackpads now get haptic feedback when clicking on images in Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

New templates have been added to the Mac OS-X versions of the three apps, along with improved OpenType support for typographic features such as small caps, alternate glyphs, and fractions, with 10 languages now supported.

Apple has also improved compatibility with documents formats used in Microsoft Office, along with better export to non-native file types as well as sharing via cloud storage services such as Dropbox, and Google Drive. 

For iOS, the three productivity apps can use the 'slide over', 'split view' and 'picture in picture' multitasking features on iPads, and there is also support for the "taptic" interface technology on iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

Keyboard shortcuts now work with a wireless keyboard attached to iOS devices, and shared documents can be previewed in Safari and Google Chrome mobile browsers.

iWork is also now officially out of beta, three years after the browser-based productivity suite appeared.

Apple has made several improvements to the iCloud versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote, including improved sharing with restrictions and tracked changes, and collaboration with up to 100 people.

Word count is now available in Pages for iCloud, and it's possible to use keyboard shortcuts, animate charts, use inline and floating tables, edit endnotes and add comments.

Images up to 10 megabytes in size can be used, and Apple has added close to 200 new fonts for the productivity applications, and also bumped up the maximum document size to one gigabyte.

All versions have received improved accessibility with VoiceOver now supported for body text, document manager, comments and editing functions.

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