Apple manages to make spreadsheets interesting
Apple is well-known for the stylish design of its Mac computers, but it also brings a strong visual flair to its software.
The iWork suite includes word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs, but despite being essentially mundane office software it has some striking visual effects.
Perhaps the best example is the Numbers spreadsheet program. Rival spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel tend to focus on the number-crunching side of things, but Numbers includes templates for tasks such as creating school reports or a holiday itinerary, and adorns these templates with eye-catching graphics, tables and charts that illustrate the numerical data attractively.
This new version of iWork adds several new types of tables and graphs to Numbers, but also includes more than 90 new maths functions that allow students and business users to crunch numbers more seriously.
The Keynote presentations program also has new visual-effects features. There are new options for creating animated text effects, such as Swing, which makes text look as though it’s being flipped over as you advance from one slide to the next. There are also new transitions that make pictures or text fly off a slide and then bring new items zooming onto the next slide.
However, the most powerful new feature is the Magic Move animation tool. This allows you to add text and graphics to a slide and then create ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of that slide. Keynote will then automatically animate the text and graphics so they smoothly change shape or position as you move from slide to slide. This makes it easy to create very sophisticated animation effects in just a few seconds.
The Pages word processor has been given a more modest upgrade (some new templates, a mail-merge option and an outline tool), but it’s still good for quickly creating attractive page layouts.
Experienced business users may prefer the Mac version of Microsoft Office, but iWork is a good option for home users and students who need an affordable and easy-to-use office software suite.
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An attractive and affordable suite of office software for Mac users Good points Affordable and easy-to-use; compatible with Microsoft Office Bad points No database program included
£69 (five-user family pack £85)
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