While it got overshadowed by major OS and hardware updates at WWDC, Apple’s iWork productivity suite is moving onto the web this fall. If you want a sneak peek, though, now’s your chance.
This version of iWork on the web is the apparent successor to iWork.com, Cupertino’s previous (and ill-fated) attempt to allow users to work with their iWork files on the web.
Allowing users to access and edit their iWork files through iCloud is a big competitive step for Apple, pitting them against Microsoft’s Office 365 web interface, as well as Google’s venerable Google Drive service. While iWork currently lacks the raw penetration of Office and the co-editing potential of Google Drive, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple is looking to directly compete with both companies and try to pull in market share from its legion of iOS users.
The beta for the iWork web interface is currently open to anyone who wants to try it. To access the apps, go to beta.icloud.com and enter your Apple ID and password.
The interface should seem familiar to users of the iOS version of iCloud, though the grey linen background has been replaced with a flatter gradient, in keeping with other design changes Apple is making to its apps.
Though I haven’t spent an extensive amount of time with the beta, my minimal testing shows a system with a lot of promise. Syncing documents between my various devices and the web app was nearly painless, and the interface feels clean and responsive.
I opened up one of my Keynote presentations, and it ran perfectly in full-screen mode, complete with 3D transitions, all straight from the web. If you’re a heavy iWork user like me, and you find yourself away from your devices but need to get a hold of one of your documents, this seems like an excellent way to do just that.
My one pet peeve is that it is currently only possible to share a document by emailing it through your iCloud email. Other than that, though, it seems to be a great start.
UPDATE: It seems like the beta is only open to registered Apple developers, but if you want to give it a shot, it’s possible to register your Apple ID as a developer account for free. Follow this link, enter your Apple ID, and you should be good to go.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.